The king of the N64-era platformers.
Conker the Squirrel is not your average friendly red squirrel that would be featured in a variety Nintendo games. He’s an alcoholic, sex-crazed, greedy squirrel that only wishes to get home after a hangover. His adventure didn’t start out this way. Originally, Conker’s tale was going to be played out as a Banjo-Kazooie kid’s game. Instead of making another game with just a cute little fuzzy animal, Chris Seavor had other plans. He turned the rodent 21 and turned him into the complete opposite of what Nintendo had allowed previously. But unlike other series that are crude just to be crude, Conker’s Bad Fur Day actually has a terrific plot that’s full of parody and creative genius.
As mentioned previously, Conker is trying to get home to his girlfriend, Berri, from a hangover. The land in which Conker is traveling is run by the Panther King, who’s table to hold his milk is missing a leg.. He sends his goons to look for a red squirrel to fit the role of a 4th leg for his table that is broken thanks to the suggestion of his mad scientist servant, Professor Von Kriplespac. Conker travels through the land, finding loads of cash and encountering comedic dangers and puzzles. The parodies of different films range from The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, A Clockwork Orange, The Godfather, and several other mainstream movies. The pieces fit perfectly into the story and it never feels forced. It feels natural and even without a general knowledge of these films, you’ll still be able to laugh. In other words, Chris Seavor is a very creative and funny guy.
The game plays much like most platformers of it’s time, such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. There’s a giant map with points of interest that are unlocked by finishing certain events in the story. You collect cash as a checkpoint system to show you completed events and unlock new areas, much like Banjo’s musical notes. You eat chocolate pieces to restore health. It’s very typical in those areas. Where the game excels in gameplay is the variety. You’ll mainly battle using a frying pan straight out of Looney Tunes but eventually gather dual-action machine guns. The platforming puzzles are challenging but never feel forced or boring. There’s even a fun racing mini-game that feels like Mario Kart meets Road Rash. It’s not completely fresh, but if you enjoy platform action-adventure titles, this is top notch quality.
For it’s time, the graphics and sounds were amazing. This game had so much data it used a rare 64MB cart to store it on. It’s also one of the first games to feature proper audio-sync with voices, which made the game feel more realistic than it’s platform counterparts. It was pretty rare to also have a game fully voiced on the N64 then. And the voice acting is brilliantly diverse, giving each character a life of it’s own. The score isn’t bad either. A lot of the themes are catchy and sound really great, thanks to the Dolby Digital technology backing the game (again, rare for it’s time). The graphics were pretty amazing too and really showed how powerful the N64′s hardware was. The lands are bright and colorful as are the characters. There’s so much detail put into each area that it feels like a completely new game every time you stepped foot on somewhere new. You have to remember too that during this era, console games didn’t have near as many details as Conker’s. There were individual finger movements on some characters in a time where boxed hands were good enough. On top of that, the lack of distance fog (used to limit draw distance and keep the frame rate smooth) and the high draw distance helped dwarf all other graphically achievements from other Nintendo 64 titles. In all, this is the best looking and sounding game on the N64. It’s perfect outside of very few frame rate dips.
There is multiplayer that’s full of diversity and a host of player options. There’s death match, capture the flag, racing, and more. Each mode is a plot from the main game. While it was definitely a lot of fun during it’s time, we live in a different time now. Trying to get friends over to play a split-screen title isn’t as easy as it used to be. Especially an older game with a tooth controller. However, if you have someone to play with, the modes still hold up. My favorite mode is still Raptor. You face off against a raptor and a team of Uga Bugas (cave men). It’s much like another old title called Giants: Citizen Kabuto. The goal for the raptor is to eat as many Uga Bugas as you can while the Uga Bugas’ goal is to take as many raptor eggs as they can to their hideout. It’s creative and still a lot of fun. Luckily, there are bots for some of the modes, but they’re targets compared to playing with a real pal.
There’s not too many games that can make you laugh and keep you entertained the entire time through. Most cutscenes in today’s game bore me. For a game that’s over 10 years old, it’s amazing how well the game still entertains me during a cutscene. The bottom line is if you enjoy platform games, comedy, and solid gameplay, give yourself a bad fur day.