Conker's Bad Fur Day
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Rare
  • Publishers:
    • US Rare
    • UK THQ
  • Released:
    • US 03/05/2001
    • UK 04/06/2001
Score: 75%

This review was published on 03/25/2016.

Conker's Bad Fur Day is a 3-D platform video game developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64. It was originally released in North America on March 5, 2001, Europe on April 6, 2001, and Australia on May 25, 2001. The game was published in North America and Australia by Rare and THQ in Europe. This is the second game starring Conker, following Conker's Pocket Tales, which was released for the Game Boy Color in 1999. Early on during its development, Conker's Bad Fur Day went under several different names, such as Conker's Quest and Twelve Tales: Conker 64. The prototype was criticized for being too cute and too similar to another N64 title developed by Rare called Banjo-Kazooie. Shortly thereafter, the title vanished from the public eye, and rumors of its cancelation began circulating. In actuality, the game underwent a massive transformation, having been converted from a family friendly title to a mature rated game. When Conker's Bad Fur Day finally released, it was met with adoration from critics, though it didn't sell too well. Regardless of all that, the game is fun to play, and that's what truly counts.

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As the title implicates, the game chronicles the story of a furry red squirrel named Conker. On the day of his 21st birthday, Conker decided to go to the bar and drink some alcoholic beverages with his friends. After a whole night of binge drinking, Conker drunkenly staggers out of the bar, pukes on the street, and attempts to return home to his girlfriend, Berri. He loses consciousness on the way there, and then wakes up with a massive hangover in an unfamiliar land. Meanwhile, the dreaded Panther King, ruler of this strange land, notices that his throne's side table is missing one of its legs. The Panther King then orders his paraplegic weasel scientist, Professor Von Kriplespac, to deal with the matter. Kriplespac suggests that they use a red squirrel as a replacement for the table's fourth leg. Wasting no time at all, the Panther King deploys his soldiers to search for and capture such a creature. Now lost, Conker must find his way back home while avoiding the Panther King's forces.

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This is, by far, one of the best looking games on the N64. Nothing even comes close. The graphics are so good in Conker's Bad Fur Day that it barely even resembles an N64 title. More specifically, the characters look fantastic. The polygon count is quite high for the system, leading to sophisticated character models that are very well animated. Whenever characters talk, their mouths move realistically with decent lip syncing. The lighting effects also look amazing. Somehow, the N64 is able to accomplish all of this without the Expansion Pak, which was an add-on that expanded the system's technical specs by enhancing its internal memory. The only visual blemish this game has is that the textures are a bit muddy and stretched out. Also, the game occasionally drops in frame rate when there's too much going on. It's those things that'll remind you that this is still an N64 game, despite how good it looks.

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Another technological achievement this game has going for it is the stellar voice acting. Practically every line of dialogue is voice acted, and that's quite a feat, because there's a lot of it. This is especially impressive for the N64, because the cartridge format doesn't allow for as much storage as a CD, and voice acting typically takes up plenty of space. Rare must have done some serious work to get it all to work. To further sweeten the deal, the voice acting itself is quite good, not just due to the spot on performance, but also because of the remarkable writing. Part of that might just be because the script is both written and spoken by actual English speakers, as opposed to originally being in Japanese and then having to go through a rough localization process. Either way, it sounds good and contributes greatly to the game's humor and overall appeal.

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A big focus of the game is its crude brand of humor. It's got copious amounts of blood and gore, alcohol and drug use, sexual jokes, scatological humor, and tons of profanity. South Park would be an apt comparison. Oddly enough, Conker himself never swears, but everyone else sure does. There are also a fair amount of pop culture references and scenes that parody certain films, like A Clockwork Orange, Saving Private Ryan, The Terminator, Jaws, The Matrix, and more. The juxtaposition of cartoony characters being embroiled in all these adult situations makes it all the more amusing. One portion of the game has you helping a king bee cheat on his wife with a rather well endowed female sunflower. The undisputed best scene in the game involves a giant monster made of feces singing opera; the immeasurable absurdity is what sells it. As is evident from that scene, the humor is sometimes borderline juvenile, so this won't be everyone's cup of tea. However, if that sort of thing appeals to you, then this game will be right up your alley.

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Doing away with most of the collectibles, Conker's Bad Fur Day is more of a standard platformer than Rare's previous exploratory collect-a-thons like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. Conker's abilities are simple; he can run, jump, smack foes with a frying pan, and do a helicopter tail thing to hover briefly. He also learns a couple of new techniques along the way, like the ability to swim underwater. For the most part, the game itself is fairly linear. It's essentially a series of 3-D environments filled with obstacles to jump through and kooky characters to stumble upon. There are also occasional puzzles to solve. The focus tends to be more on the comical cutscenes involving the eccentric characters Conker meets on his adventure, making the actual game play more of an afterthought. It does get the job done, but you'll find better platforming in other games. That's easily this game's greatest weakness.

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Slight variety is added to the core game play in the form of context sensitive pads. Standing on these things will let Conker use unique abilities or items he can't normally. The things he's able to do on these pads are tied to the specific area he's currently in, changing based on context, hence why they're known as context sensitive. For example, Conker may pull out a slingshot he can then use to shoot down enemies, a flamethrower to violently burn down some bats, or throwing knives. He may even turn into an anvil to crush anything that's beneath him! It's generally not immediately obvious what a given pad will do until after Conker stands on it. This creates a small level of excitement when encountering a new pad, as you never know what Conker will do next. Context sensitive actions were something that started becoming prevalent during this era of gaming. Conker's Bad Fur Day wasn't one of the first games to do it, but it did do it well.

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The game is divided into several chapters. Each chapter has its own self-contained story, but what's more interesting is that chapters tend to differ in game play. One chapter has Conker turn into a bat, and his mission is to feed an evil vampire blood by flying around, abducting villagers, and then tossing them into a giant meat grinder. At times, playing different chapters can feel like you're playing a different game altogether. The most drastic of these is the section of the game in which Conker is drafted into a war against a group of Nazi-like teddy bears. This portion of the game plays primarily like a third-person shooter, as Conker guns down his opponents in intense firefights. As far as variety goes, this is good, though there are times when it backfires. One example that comes to mind is a frustrating segment where Conker has to ride on a barrel; the thing is hard to control and the slightest wrong move results in death. All the different styles of game play make Conker's Bad Fur Day a jack of all trades, master of none.

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Up to four players can compete in seven different multiplayer modes: Beach, Raptor, Heist, War, Tank, Race, and Deathmatch. Most of these modes play like third-person shooters. In the Beach mode, one set of players control a team of helpless villagers that must escape, while another team of players try to stop them as the Nazi teddy bears. Raptor has some players control raptors and some players control cavemen; the raptors have to feed a baby dinosaur with the cavemen while also defending their eggs from theft. Heist involves players robbing a bank, where two teams compete to see who can get the cash first. In War, you can either do capture the flag, or another mode where players are tasked with taking a gas canister to the opposing team's base to wipe them out. Tank is the same, except everyone's in a tank. Race is a wicked cool hover board race. Lastly, Deathmatch is, unsurprisingly, a simple death match with mostly guns. The multiplayer in this game is fun and creative; don't be surprised if you spend hours on it.

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Phenomenal graphics, awesome voice acting, and great humor are the badges Conker's Bad Fur Day wears on its shirt. The game play, however, is the game's weakest link. It ranges from average to good, never quite reaching great. There's lots of variety, but not all of it is good. Merely adequate is the best way to describe the game play in Conker's Bad Fur Day. The crude, sometimes juvenile humor is an essential component to the game, so whether or not you enjoy it hinges on whether you're into that kind of comedy. The multiplayer is really good, though, and may be worth it all on its own. In the end, it can't be denied that the game is good as a complete product, even if some of its individual parts are lacking.

Word Count: 1,680

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