"there's nothing that can bring down the appeal of such a hilarious, inventive and utterly enthralling experience. "
You switch the game on, the word Nintendo appears. Then, the N64 logo is seen, shaking and moaning with fear. Checking behind it to see no-one's coming. Suddenly, Conker jumps out of the darkness, and growls while slicing the logo in half with a chainsaw, replacing it with the Rareware logo. This is a metaphor for what you will see in this rest of the game. It's goodbye kiddy Nintendo image and hello Rare's Conker's Bad Fur Day.
A game which originally started out as the cutest platformer ever (And yes, that was scientifically proven) Conker's Bad Fur Day eventually evolved into a **** filled, **** faced and highly original game. **** for all the family! Or, er, maybe not.
After their disappointingly 'familiar' Banjo Tooie, Rare have redeemed their name as brilliantly novel perfectionists. The transition between the cutesy bouncy world that made up this game many days ago and the dark massacre hosting plains that litter the game's ever creative levels is unbelievable. And it's not just an average run and jump platformer tacked on to a bunch of fart jokes and swearing, it's superb. But perfect it ain't.
The story is ridiculously simple and simply ridiculous, but serves it's purpose. Conker (A squirrel) falls asleep in a field one night, after getting extremely drunk. He wakes up the next morning, hung over and wanting to find his way home. And your control in the game starts there. Soon into the game there is a Panther King introduced to us, he has spilt his milk *resists urge to make awful joke*. His weasel professor (Who has no legs and carries a squeaky German accent) concludes that this is because on of the legs of his table is missing, thus sending the piece of furniture flying when the glass was placed on it. The only solution, he explains, is to find a red squirrel (Guess who) who can be used to prop up the table leg.
Bizarre, no? But there are actually some very interesting plot developments at the end (The cut scenes before and after the final boss contains more big money surprises than most other full games put together). And seeing it progress is strangely fascinating. The characters are all an interesting lot, and some good attempts are made at creating genuinely moving moments. Although I'm not the most emotional guy in the world, I could easily see that the more poignant moments in the story (few as they were) were lovingly crafted and thankfully devoid of shallow emotions or manipulative cliches.
But creative as it may be, the story is nowhere near the best part of the game. Rare realise that, although flashy graphics and sound are nice, gameplay comes first. It's unfair, it's frustrating and it's over all too quickly. But it's the most compelling game I've ever had the pleasure to play. It's constantly surprising, fantastically rewarding and never ever repetitive. It's a platformer alright, but not as we know it.
The first section starts you off nice and easy. Standing on the outside of a small vegetable patch, Conker walks (Or tries to, being hung over you constantly stop and make comments to yourself that you'll never drink again, which is a nice touch) around and eventually enters the patch, encountering a disturbing (and also drunk) scarecrow called Birdy.
Now, although the opening cut scene had references to alcahol and such, it is only here that the game's genuinely funny style is fully apparent. He explains to you that strewn throughout the quest are big pads with the letter B on them. Standing on them will activate a skill that can only be used while standing on the pad (A slingshot for example) or will only be used for a limited amount of time (Becoming drunk).
Game Designer: Sir, I was wondering what you thought of our new game plan.
Rare Executive: Hmmm, I don't know, where are all the pick ups?
Game designer: Well there is the money, rewarded for completing the game's tasks.
Rare executive: But that's all in plain view. Where are the things hidden out of sight that will take learning 37 new moves and at least eleven solid days of combined walking to uncover?
Game Designer: Well sir, we, er, thought that would be a bit pointless, it might put the player off. we thought why not just offer the fun stuff and cut out the unnecessary exploring
Rare Executive: *Slaps game designer*
That's what you'd see happen in most of Rare's meetings, but the boss must have been in a particularly good mood when Conker's BFD was being developed. YES, there IS money to collect. But you get that for completing the main tasks (The game is linear, so you'll complete all the tasks) and that's just to give you a sense of satisfaction (And to make sure you don't skip anything).
So that's all the basics. So without the restraints of item collection you are free to play the game as it is. And what a tremendously enjoyable game it is. It absolutely HAS to be the most varied platform game (Hell, most varied game full stop.
Some of the tasks you perform are, in essence, normal platformer routines. But they are presented with such vigor and humour that you can't help but love it. Rolling a boulder over the side of a cliff or down a tunnel to crush an enemy? Sure, it's not original. But transform that boulder into a giant ball of dung or the genitalia of a recently expired boss, and you're laughing all the way. There are so many highlights in this game that it would be impossible to list (and unfair to spoil) them all. Entice a bull into a wooden board where it will get stuck, jump on top of it to gain control, and use it to shove a cow over to some prune juice? (Where the cow will get diarrhea and run away) Fantastic.
These little set pieces though are nothing compared to the levels of all round atmospheric genius. The 'It's War' level recreates the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan with astonishing accuracy. And suddenly being thrown into the midst of it all, running for your life with other soldiers (The numbers of which rapidly deplete) and ducking for cover behind metal structures, is all breath-taking. And, despite it's cartoon appearance, amazingly convincing.
Just minutes later in the first level, you must creep around an eerily silent interior with machine guns. You've got to watch every corner because more often than not, vicious Tediz (Teddy Bears that have a thoroughly frightening scratchy gravelly voice that utters 'kill' and things like that) will leap out from behind boxes to alarming music and start attacking you. This should produce a few thrills.
And if you're looking for chills, then you need look no further than the level set entirely in and around a vampire's mansion. First enter a misty graveyard with your shotgun (Given to you by a hilariously irritable grim reaper with a high pitched English accent) and blast away any Zombie rodents that come hunting for your blood. Then enter the dauntingly huge and mysteriously silent mansion, to be greeted by a vampire. He was going to eat you but it turns out that the towns folk are attacking his house and he needs your help to catch them as his meal. Then, without warning, you are a vampire bat, flying around and scooping up wandering villagers into your claws, after blinding them with dung and dropping them into a crusher (Accompanied the whole while by a surprisingly rousing Castlevania-esque violin melody. After that search the mansion for blood thirsty zombies once again.Tthe way they spot you and then come running moaning with audible hunger, is chillingly memorable.
I won't spoil any more gameplay surprises, as discovering the new challenges and themes around every corner is one of the best parts of the game. For once, instead of being rewarded for your efforts with a shiny object, you are given a highly original and always fun piece of classic platforming. And to me, that's much better than receiving another generic gold trinket.
The game is full of crude (but amusing) innuendo, and various film references that are fun to spot. Some are obvious, like the piece of sweetcorn who is suddenly grabbed by something out of view and then pulled under the surface of poo screaming (a la Jaws). Others are more subtle and harder to spot, like the Blair Witch style kiddie hand prints on the wall of the vampire's mansion. Other sexual and toilet jokes also prove to raise a smile (And quite often will make you laugh). 'Now that's what I call a platform game!' conker remarks, readying himself to bounce to a higher ledge on a flower's extremely large pair of bosoms. Oh and how can a review of this game go without a mention of the ultimate poo joke: The great mighty Poo. A large poo beast who sings a side-splitting opera song to you as he throws, er, himself around. It's got to be the funniest moment in gaming ever. You'll never forget it.
As well as a mind-bendingly fun and compellingly varied main game. Rare has squeezed quite a decent multiplayer mode out of the game as well. None of them are particularly excellent, but nearly all of them are well worth a go, and may catch on to sit among veterans like Goldeneye and Mario Kart. These include tank deathmatches, hoverboard races, bank heists and war simulations. A lot of effort was obviously put into everything.
But here's the catch: although it may be fun and competent, the multiplayer isn't enough to make up for the very short length of the game. It may seem like the game is long because there's so much to do. But it's over in a flash (A flash being, for me, just under fourteen hours). Lots of the sections are very fun to replay (And there's a handy little menu that lets you replay all of the sections). But this still doesn't make up for the disappointment that is felt when it dawns on you the game is over. It should have been twice as long ideally.
There are other little faults as well. For one, the first person view is terrible. Instead of, logically, giving you an ACTUAL first person view, it just zooms up behind Conker's head. And if the developers didn't realise that his head would obstruct everything, then surely they must have seen that his DAMN HUGE SQUIRREL TAIL would! Don't expect to ever accomplish anything with this view. In fact, the camera as a whole is pretty bad. It constantly waves around and goes where you don't want it to. Not very helpful in a platform game really. And because of this, the harder sections will be made even MORE hair-tearingly tricky (Bald players will be searching for the hair of a family member and/or cherished pet).
Rare have presented to us a technical marvel of a game though. If there was one example of the N64's abilities, then this is it. The detail to your surroundings is just jaw dropping. The characters' animation makes them looks just as they do in their promotional rendered stills. Emotion is conveyed clearly through their expressions, as they wander around these marvelous levels. the quality of everything is just so high, the terrific lighting effects, the outstanding animation and the epic, colourful and stylishly designed levels. This game is a treat to look at. Rare have wrung every last drop out of the N64.
The music is inspired. Instead of being cute and plinky plonky like in all other platformers (Although the jazzy hub theme is slightly cute) the score only serves to intensify the already tangible atmosphere in the game. And all to stunning effect. The amount of speech in this game is impressive too (And all by only three actors. Plus there's one just for the Great Mighty Poo). It's all very well acted with obvious character and enthusiasm, absolutely priceless comic timing (Although the British accents doesn't seem to have been to everyone's liking). As good to listen to as it is to look at.
So despite its pretty large faults, there's nothing that can bring down the appeal of such a hilarious, inventive and utterly enthralling experience. I'd love to score it a ten, since it often deserves it, but it's carelessness in the mentioned areas keep it from reaching potential perfection. Don't even think about renting it, it's too good for that. Buy it, play it, remember it.
Command and Conker
+ Instantly different and refreshing
+ Consistently funny
+ Inhumanly compelling
+ Brilliant fun
+ Daringly original
+ Excellent and simple controls
+ Not cluttered up with unnecessary extras, it's all about the gameplay
+ Well above average multiplayer
+ Unrivalled atmosphere
+ An increasingly interesting plot
+ Perfect presentation: Sound AND graphics
+ Numerous film references
+ For once, a game that genuinely surprises you at every turn.
+ You'll never get tired of some bits.
Conker's Bad Fur Game
+ Intensely irritating camera in all areas
+ Disappointingly brief
+ The fall distance it takes to get hurt is pathetically tiny. It's small I know, but annoying
+ Often very very hard to the point of homicidal behavior.
If you like this...
Banjo Kazooie - N64: A different kind of platformer, but still wildly inventive fun from Rare.
Resident Evil - Playstation: Relive the Zombie section in this polished and tense survival horror
Community review by maxh (Date unavailable)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Conker's Bad Fur Day review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!