At the time of this game’s release you would have never expected to see something such as this, especially on the Nintendo 64. Sure, the system had its fair share of mature titles, but nothing of this caliber. To see a game with the aesthetics of your typical cutesy platformer filled to the brim with such vulgar language, crass humor, as well as mature violence make its way onto a Nintendo platform, especially from a company whose previous 3-D platformers for the system were the exact opposite, was unheard of. Conker’s Bad Fur Day did just that. Rare dared to go the extra mile with this game, and while it was unfortunately a financial failure it managed to succeed in its primary goal: Being a hilariously crude and fun platformer.
You play as Conker the Squirrel. He is no longer the child-friendly critter from Diddy Kong Racing or Conker’s Pocket Tales. Now he is often drunk, inconsiderate, and has a skimpy girlfriend named Berry. One night after an evening of binge drinking, he finds himself lost in a strange land and desperately tries to find his way back home to his girlfriend. From here on the plot makes no sense and simply serves as an excuse for Conker to get stuck in ridiculous situations. Obviously storytelling is not the game’s focus, but rather it’s the hilarious writing and over-the-top scenarios that pull everything together. If you aren’t a fan of scatological humor and crude characters and settings, you are going to detest this game. Even I am not a big fan of most of this humor and I still find the jokes hilarious. You’ll encounter a big breasted sunflower, tour a mountain made entirely out of feces, help a foul-mouthed cog that needs the “assistance” of a few female cogs, face off against a giant broiler with brass balls, and many other crazy moments. Given that this game is inspired by shows such as South Park it should be no surprise to see stuff like that. There are also dozens of different movie references and settings scattered throughout the game. Some tend to feel a little stale seeing as how the references are more of a product of their time, but they can still get laughs.
Gameplay is Bad Fur Day‘s other strong suit (no surprise given Rare’s previous works). At first it seems like a basic 3-D platformer where you go about performing menial tasks like collecting a few items or simply reaching a specific point. By exploring the levels and completing said tasks you earn money, which is needed to progress to new areas. What makes the gameplay more special, however, is the introduction of Context-Sensitive Actions. By pressing the B button at specific spots when a lightbulb makes a ting noise, Conker will be given an item that will help him out with a specific problem. Need to shoot down some pesky dung beetles? Press B to pull out a sling shot. Need to free a redneck pitchfork from a noose? Press B for throwing knives. How about facing hoards of the undead? Press B for a handy shotgun. There are plenty of other off-the-wall moments that require the use of context-sensitive actions that I simply won’t spoil.
Aside from basic platforming, there are a few other gameplay styles thrown into the mix for a touch of variety. One area will have you hover boarding in order to get back your stolen cash, while another will bring the inception of third-person shooting and have you facing zombies, and so on. These gameplay styles are topped off with excellent control and top notch level designs (though a few parts in later chapters have their frustrating moments). In addition to single player there is a surprisingly robust multiplayer with seven different modes ranging from deathmatch, to capture the flag, to racing.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is also a technical marvel for the Nintendo 64. The game offers a variety of rich colors, lighting and particle effects, and excellent textures. A few character models and lip syncing look off, but for the most part everything looks great and animates nicely. Not to mention the extensive amount of voice acting and cinematics. This pushed cartridge gaming to its limits.
Because of the content of this game, it was quite obvious that Nintendo wouldn’t want to heavily advertise it. As a result, it was a financial flop and it wasn’t able to gain as much recognition. It didn’t help that the game was released close to the end of the system’s life. But over the years it has grown a larger fan following and Rare even made a gorgeous-looking remake of the game for the Xbox in 2005. If one wants to get into this game, I would probably recommend the remake (despite a few questionable omissions and censoring). For fans of crude humor, platformers, and avid N64 collectors, this is still a must own.