Saturday, June 18, 2011

Retro Reviews: Conker's Bad Fur Day

Conker's Bad Fur Day was released in 2001 developed and published by Rare.

In the history of gaming there are many games that started out one way and come out much differently. Conker's Bad Fur Day is probably the most extreme example of that. In 1997 the first incarnation of Conker, Conker's Quest (and later Twelve Tales: Conker 64) was to be a cute, family friendly affair staring Conker and his chipmunk girlfriend Berri. It was to be much in the mold of Banjo-Kazooie and other 3D platform games of the era. Conker was even in Rare's Diddy Kong Racing in all his high-pitched squeaky voiced glory. There was even a Game Boy version released in 1999 that starred Conker in his cute mode. But in 2000, Conker was revamped into the form that we all know and love. While the game had the cute appearance of the early versions, the game featured swearing, gore, a ton of feces, numerous references to genitalia and more movie parodies than you could shake a stick at. This all came together to create unforgettable and hilarious experience at the end of the N64's lifespan.

Conker is in many ways a standard issue platform game from the 64/32-bit era of games. You lead Conker through the incredibly strange world he inhabits just so he can get home back to every furry's dream girl, Berri and sleep off the massive hangover he got at the bar the night before. Along the way he'll run into gangster wasps, a rather annoyed Death, a King and Queen bee in peril, a buxom & ticklish sunflower and even a giant singing blob of living poo. That is just a sample of all the character he runs into as Conker is unknowingly also trying to avoid being captured by the Panther King to be made into the fourth leg of a broken table.

Conker plays much like Banjo-Kazooie in that if you know how to play that you'll pretty much know how to play it. Conker's big differences in how you progress through levels. Unlike B&K nonlinear hub style, Conker's world is connected and linear. You rarely hang out in one area for very long, usually just long enough to complete a few tasks and collect money (kind of similar to jiggies or stars but less the main point of the game). So relatively speaking Conker is much a stripped down version of a classic 3D platform game, a step back on a ton of collectables per stage that Rare was known for. Another big game play feature is the "context sensitive" buttons that give Conker the ability he needs at that time, such as alka seltzer, throwing knives, a sling shot or beer just to name a few. The great thing about the game is the variety, you'll never do the same exact thing twice and by time you get tired of that particular stage's theme you'll be on to the next one and getting used to a new game play mode. There is even a fun multi-player mode that covers a whole bunch of different game styles, from king of the hill style to fortress defense. And they also have their own sense of humor so they are worth checking out for that.

The only flaw in the game play I'd say is the camera. It really likes to work against you especially when you trying to make a big jump as it'll sometimes go out of position sending you in the wrong direction or unable to see where you trying to reach. You can get around it most of the time but some areas may have you pulling hair out trying to figure out which way to go because the camera disoriented you.

The graphics in Conker's BFD are some of the best on the N64. Even before it's new tone, Conker impressed people especially with the facial animation of Conker. Conker displays a wide range of emotion in the game and it is all expressed very nicely on the N64. The rest of the game is also very colorful for the most part showing the game's roots as a cutesy platformer. The textures are a bit muddy but aren't bad for the N64. I'd say this is all because the N64 expansion pak let Rare do a whole lot of really cool stuff. Only problem is that the frame-rate can get a bit jittery, especially in the most hectic parts.

The audio in the game is also great, some of the best on the N64 at that. While the music is appropriately inappropriate (cute music over the depravity) the voice acting is some of the best I've ever heard. While a tad muted, the various characters and especially Conker all come across as very memorable and if you can't read them they provided us with speech bubbles for some of the harder to understand characters. Also the game features a giant singing pile of poo. Which may be humanities greatest musical achievement. Seriously, if you haven't heard this song, go here now. Your ears will thank you.

In the end if you like N64-era platformers and appreciate a surreal and funny gaming experience chock full of memorable scenarios and references, you cannot go wrong with this classic game. If you want a pleasant reminder of what Rare once was, it is even better.


+ Extremely funny with plenty of movie parodies
+ Classic but streamlined 3D platforming gameplay
+ Great N64 graphics
+ Very good voice acting
- Twitchy camera
- Sometimes suspect framerate

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