Conker’s Bad Fur Day Review

Its heart might be clouded by too much alcohol, but its intentions are good and they materialize almost perfectly

cbfd1Conker’s Bad Fur Day is an appropriate title for the cute squirrel’s grand adventure on the Nintendo 64. However, depicting a full twenty-four hours in the life of the visually lovable character, the game could have easily opted to borrow the label of the literary work “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. What starts out as a simple night out with some friends, quickly unravels into an unfathomable sequence of outrageous occurrences that, not satisfied with frequently crossing the line of what is morally decent, seeks to entertain through sheer offensive spectacle. And almost everything about it is so wonderfully done that anyone who has the capacity to stomach the title’s madness will to oblige it.

The partying takes a wilder turn than expected, and Conker – who wisely phones his girlfriend, Berri – decides to stay a little longer. After drinking himself to total drunkenness overnight, he stumbles out of the shady bar with one clear goal in mind: going back home; that is, if he can remember which path to follow. From that point on, and having to deal with a character that totters and punctually stops to throw up as he walks, players must lead the way.

Eventually, Conker takes an aspirin and rids himself of his shameful state, but that does not stop the game from taking turns that are completely absurd. While the squirrel becomes sober, the software itself never recovers from its inebriated condition; it gets progressively more insane with each passing segment, and it is not ashamed to throw profanities, obvious sexual innuendos, and flashy brutality on the screen.

cbfd3What truly sets Conker’s Bad Fur Day apart from the many great platformers that had the Nintendo 64 as their home, other than its M-rated label (which does not seem to be a category high enough to envelop all of its content), is its progression. Where Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong 64 were neatly segregated into a hub and multiple worlds, Conker’s Bad Fur Day goes for a looser approach: the game’s setting feels like a seamless junction of different scenarios on which the absurdity takes place.

Such structure plays right into the hands of the idea that the journey occurs during an uninterrupted one-day timespan. It feels like everything is a solid succession of tasks and activities Conker must do to either please the creatures he bumps into or escape the evil plans of those who seek his destruction. It is a relentless string of deeds that get more unpredictable and lunatic by the second.

On his way home, besides having to cope with his geographic amnesia, Conker ends up as the target of the evil Panther King: the ruler of the land who, advised by his highly intelligent scientist minion, is on a desperate search for a red squirrel, an animal whose size is just perfect to serve as the repairing piece of the broken leg of his coffee table (such is the ludicrous nature of the game). Consequently, the variety of situations the unheroic protagonist has to get out of is flooring.

cbfd_6That fact generates gameplay opportunities that are wide-ranging, and Rare takes full advantage of it to build a game that never touches on the same ground more than once, keeping players pleased with a constant stream of unforeseeable turns. Conker will surf on lava, ride on dinosaurs, swim in poop, participate on a twisted rodeo, almost annihilate a civilization, go to an atrocious and extremely entertaining war, find himself in the midst of a horror story that includes zombies and a vampire, and much more.

Although some of the segments are not that fun, a few specific ones, in particular, feel more like chores than interesting challenges, the game is a victory in the sense of having the players’ brains fully intrigued by what is coming next. Its set of experiments in gameplay (which even feature a few more traditional platforming tests) is commendable even if it sometimes misses the mark.

Another factor that greatly contributes to the game’s sense of continuity, is its cinematic quality – which, as far as the Nintendo 64 goes, is completely unparalleled. From its very first second, where both Rare and Nintendo’s logos are displayed as if they were part of the opening credits of a movie, to the various clever spoofs of landmark films that populate the game, and its impressive dialogues that are fully voice-acted, Conker’s Bad Fur Day feels and plays like a scatological movie that encompasses ridiculous circumstances.

cbfd4It is, by all means, a great technical achievement that extends way past cinematography. The game, whose cuddly look and colorful whimsical world would be right at home on a child-oriented effort, is one of the system’s best-looking works. Its visuals are incredibly smooth and run perfectly well, but most important than that is the fact its art style is so finely tuned that it is able to embrace romantic lush environments, terrifying locations, disgusting effects, and high levels of gore and put them all under the same cohesive umbrella. If Conker’s Bad Fur Day did not exist, it would not be absurd to label the blending of such an heterogeneous mixture as impossible.

By itself, the game’s main quest does not hold enormous amounts of value in spite of its greatness: it all rounds up to something between eight and ten hours of gameplay. That short length can mostly be attributed to the lack of anything resembling a collectible, which is something that will definitely please those who are annoyed by the collectathon nature of most platformers of the era.

However, Rare was smart enough to develop a very fun multiplayer mode that packs quite a punch. With a whopping seven modes that carry a great deal of variety, the game more than delivers on that front.

cbfd5In addition to the traditional free-for-all warring and an entertaining capture-the-flag, the multiplayer offers: Heist, where players – as weasels – must compete to catch and store fleeing bags of money; Raptor, where cavemen raid the nest of a violent tyrannosaurus; Beach, which features war refugees trying to find their way into a military base overrun by devilish teddy bears, who must protect it at all costs; and the self-explaining lava-surfing Race, and the chemical war of Tank.

Due to the many possible configurations each mode allows, not to mention the fact some of them can be played from very distinct perspectives, the multiplayer can more than double the time one spends with the game. And when four friends are gathered, it is a guaranteed blast.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is, then, able to stand out from its peers not only because of its obscene content and propensity to go far beyond what is morally clean, but also because of its many prowesses. It is an impressive work that displays great attention to detail and that dares to step outside the gameplay bones of its generational counterparts. Even though it is frequently remembered for being dirty to strong degrees, its colorful surface hides qualities that go far beyond excrement, blood, and beeps censuring bad words. Its heart might be clouded by too much alcohol, but its intentions are good, and it is able to fulfill them; even if it sometimes stumbles and vomits along the way.

conkers-bad-fur-day

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About Matt

A Brazilian gamer with a great love for playing Nintendo games, and a hobby of writing about his gaming experiences and thoughts. Even though that is what I mainly do for fun, I also love listening to music (especially rock) and watching movies (especially animations), so also expect a few posts on those matters.
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23 Responses to Conker’s Bad Fur Day Review

  1. I thought for sure a Banjo-Tooie review would be next. I’m guessing you’re staving that one off for a little later?

    I really need to play CBFD. It’s one of the few noteworthy N64 games I’ve never played.

    • Matt says:

      When I finished my Banjo-Kazooie playthrough I did think about tackling Tooie next, but I ended up getting Smash Bros (and replaying a game whose review is coming on early February) and I ended up not playing it.

      But I will take a ten-day vacation by the end of February, and I will be able to play Tooie and review it properly!

  2. Prof.mcstevie says:

    Been watching a playthrough and just saw them finish the War chapter…..oh my goodness I have never been so bored in my life by anything, it lacks a single nuance of fun.

    • Matt says:

      But that’s the best part of the game! =P

      If you did not like that bit, then you will probably hate the rest.

      • Prof.mcstevie says:

        I only disliked the War chapter because it felt so monotonous and bland, you can’t make war serious with these kind of characters and art style. You can’t remove the entire joke meta humour style you have been building up the entire game. We start with buxom sunflowers and now….not even a chuckle? Get outta here.

        • Matt says:

          I see your point.

          It is indeed the least humurous chapter of the bunch. However, gameplay-wise, it is the strongest one.

          • Prof.mcstevie says:

            Funny, the escape from the self destruct sequence looked horrendously luck based due to poor camera controls and N64 era depth perception on thin red lasers.

            • Matt says:

              I never really felt the indoors segments are luck-based. When Conker steps out of the base and onto the beach, though, and the Teddy bears come after him with bazookas, I believe there is a random element to it. I have always dreaded that part.

              Maybe there is something I am missing on that session.

              • Prof.mcstevie says:

                There is a lot of things coming from nowhere in the dark with gratuitous damage that just irks me. Like most games I’d likely up the brightness a few integers when playing it, never trust a games default.

  3. INK1ing says:

    I love me a little Conker. I replayed it a few years ago and while the controls were a little clunky, the bawdy humour and variety of gameplay more than made up for it. That beginning where you can’t jump and only shuffle along to due Conker’s paralysing hangover is great.

  4. So, worth the high price?

    • Matt says:

      I live in Brazil, so I am not sure how much the cartridge is going for in the US. Plus, since games here tend to be on the expensive side (Wii U games, for example, are going for 90 dollars), I grew up to be more tolerant when it comes to how much I am willing to spend on a title.

      I checked eBay and it seems like they are on the $50 to $70 range, is that correct? If that is the case, as great as the game is, I am not sure it is worth that price.

      • Ooh, Brazil. Do you know a podcast called Radio Free Nintendo? It’s a great show, and you might be interested as just a few episodes back there was a pretty in-depth discussion on there recently (episode 411) about Nintendo in Brazil.

        As for CBFD, I’m based in the UK, and $50 to $70 is very cheap compared with what the game goes for in these parts… collectors have gone absolutely nuts for it (pun intended) and looking on ebay the game costs MINIMUM £100 (that’s approx. $150). And a boxed version went for £200 recently… :O

        My understanding is the price only went up very recently on Conker, two years ago the price was similar to the US price. Now it’s as expensive and sought after as the really rare stuff like Panzer Dragoon Saga on Saturn or a limited edition of Symphony of the Night on PS1.

        • Matt says:

          Wow, I did not know the game’s price had gone up like that over there in the UK. That’s insane. I don’t have the box, but I guess I could get rich selling my cartridge. Only I won’t, because I like it way too much! =P

          I don’t know that podcast, but I will check it out because I am curious about what they have to say. Ever since the GC days Nintendo has been pretty much ignoring Brazil completely, which is weird considering it is a huge market.

          It is so ridiculous there is no such thing as a Wii U eshop here. Therefore, I am unable to get the Mario Kart 8 DLC and buy any other game online. Now, to make matters worse, their representative in the country just decides to stop releasing games here due to the taxes (which is understandable, because the taxes here are freaking obscene).

          Thankfully, I tend to buy my games in stores that have other independent providers, so I am set even if I am confident the prices charged by those stores will increase considerably.

      • They don’t have the Eshop in Brazil?! That’s just cruel! They just released Galaxy 2 as a downloadable title here in the states, $10 dollars for the first week (and although I still have the hard disk sitting among my greatest of shelves, I got the downloadable version anyway. Because Galaxy 2).

        • Matt says:

          The 3DS does have and Eshop. The Wii U does not. Don’t ask me what is the the logic behind that, because I certainly can’t tell you.

          I wanted to buy Child of Light for the Wii U, but I could not due to the absence of the Eshop, so I went with the PC version. Nintendo is basically refusing to get my money…

          I sent them an e-mail about it, but other than a relatively fast and nice reply, nothing happened. Now that their representative in Latin America is pulling out of the country, the chances the Wii U Eshop will ever surface around here are almost null.

  5. Interesting. From what I heard on the podcast it sounds like there is a way you can get the eShop by basically posing as a Canadian 😛 And from there you can of course buy retail releases as well as download-only stuff at what I presume are fair prices.

    As for CBFD, the irony is you could almost certainly make more money selling it on the UK ebay site than elsewhere, because even American copies of the game sell here for far more than the amount you said it costs in the US. Go figure. But I’m the same way as you and I wouldn’t sell it if it was a game I genuinely liked 🙂

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, that’s right, there is a trick where you create an American or Canadian Mii, and then set your console’s location to either country and then you get to access the Eshop with US prices. I avoid doing that because that’s breaking the law, even though it is a common practice and nobody really gets fees or is arrested because of that.

      I wanted to wait because I believed the Eshop would eventually come given there is one for the 3DS. Now, after the news of their representative pulling out of here, that does not seem very likely, and that Mario Kart DLC is really cool… =P

      I bought my CBFD cartridge many years ago, and I must have paid around 40 dollars for it. Now, here in Brazil, it is being sold for 150 bucks! So there is also plenty of moneymaking opportunities around these parts. But no one is getting my pretty cartridge!

      • Cool, that’s a pretty nifty workaround. I’d listen to the RFN segment and see what you think. Funnily enough it was someone emailing and asking whether they thought it was ethical to do that very trick. Their response was (to paraphrase) “Nintendo knows people are doing that and can easily trace it. They could stop it if they wanted but they haven’t and probably won’t. They are however keeping a close eye on how many people are doing it so that they can gauge the demand/market in Brazil, and it seems likely that Nintendo will make a big push in Brazil soon based on recent statements from Reggie.”

  6. I have always been interested by this game. I was surprised to hear about an adult game on the Nintendo 64 and, whenever I saw the game being played, it seemed to have a very strange story. My experience of the game consisted of a squirrel running through idealised countryside (like levels from more child-friendly platform games, such as Donkey Kong 64), a huge mound of faeces breaking into song, a spoof of the lobby scene from the Matrix film and a swearing gargoyle. No-one seemed to able to explain what the story was either. The description does make it seem like Conker fell asleep on his way home and has a series of dreams (which would explain the strange nature of the story and why it seems segmented). Does the story follow a definite storyline, with side stories? Or does it consist of a load of odd scenarios as Conker finds his way home?
    I have wondered if the game was intended to be a subversive spoof of the other platform games (like Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong 64), with luscious locations, animals characters, similar graphics and the character completing quests to please characters he meets, but with drunkenness, violence and gore.

    • Matt says:

      I don’t buy the story of Conker having a series of crazy dreams, maybe because I think it is an overused device and Rare knew better than go for that. I just think the dude, while trying to go back home, had a really crappy day that sent him in a collision course with a bunch of morally corrupt and mean characters.

      I do buy the the idea of it being a subversive spoof of other platformers of the time, though. It punctually spoofs a bunch of movies, so it would not be a surprise if the whole product was intended as a satire to Mario 64, the Banjo games, and Donkey Kong 64.

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