Conker's Bad Fur Day Review
The premise of the game is gimmicky, but after its sordid skin is peeled away, a true gem of a 3D platformer is revealed.
Nintendo has come a long way since it refused to allow blood in the SNES version of Mortal Kombat. For better or worse, this sort of content decision has earned Nintendo the reputation as the Disney of the video game industry. While parents know they can trust Nintendo to provide good clean fun for their children, the spend-happy over-18 market has instead found solace in the PlayStation's wide selection of games intended for adults. Hoping that it's not too late to change public perception, the Nintendo 64 now features the most boundary-pushing piece of software ever to hit a video game console: Conker's Bad Fur Day.
Conker is a squirrel that looks just like any other character from previous Nintendo games. But underneath his cordial exterior lies a trash-mouthed rodent with a penchant for booze, wild women, and lewd conduct. Conker's twisted tale begins at his local bar, where he tosses back a few too many drinks with his war-bound friends before stumbling out into the rainy night. Drunken, confused, and vomiting profusely, Conker becomes lost and eventually blacks out. When he comes to his senses, he finds himself in a world unlike he, or anyone else for that matter, has ever seen before--a world full of gutter-mouthed cogs, LSD-dropping demons, bosses with giant testicles, and a panther king that rules minions of seemingly inept weasels. It's a demented world, and Conker's only desire is to somehow escape and catch up with his girlfriend, Berri. While little more than just a setup for the game's content, the story makes no sense until the end of the game, when several plot twists help to explain things a bit.
In the early going, Conker's BFD indulges heavily in lurid situations that provide some genuine belly laughs. Throughout the course of the game, you'll see an opera-singing boss made entirely out of crap, graphic depictions of morose scenarios (like a firing squad), and furry creatures being ripped in half or blown to bits. At first, it all seems surreal. After the initial shock wears off, the humor becomes contrived at times. Nonetheless, Conker's BFD is like a good book. You can't wait to turn the page and find out what happens next. Blood, guts, feces, and swearing dominate the subject matter, and the game's design is targeted squarely at adults as well as children. Instead of having to collect exorbitant amounts of items and figure out where to use them, context-sensitive pads give them to you when you need them. Standing on the pads and pressing the B-button awards Conker with one-use items, special costumes, and extra abilities. Although you may meander virtually anywhere you choose, the game progresses in a linear fashion.
Another one of the game's aspects, which will appeal to the older crowd, is the dead-on movie spoofs that pop up with alarming regularity. One portion mimics the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan right down to the soldier-looking-for-his-arm bit. Scenes from The Terminator, The Godfather, The Matrix, and many more also get the Conker treatment. While it's really nothing new for the genre, the gameplay variety in Conker's BFD is excellent. In addition to the traditional jump, climb, swim, fly, and attack staples of 3D platformers, there are first-person shooting levels, racing levels, some simple puzzle elements, and plenty of minigames. The game reveals its heritage through some of the objectives, like carrying objects through gauntlets, which would be right at home in Banjo-Tooie. The platforming elements can be difficult at times thanks to a stubborn camera, but the majority of problems come from figuring out what to do instead of actually doing it. When compared with games like Banjo-Tooie, the linearity of Conker's BFD cuts its length considerably.