Interesting Conker's Bad Fur Day is. The first thing I noticed is that "for mature audiences only" is plastered all over the packaging, and it's also the first thing you see when you start up the game. This idea is reiterated in order convince you (or, rather, parents) that, despite cutesy art/sound style of the game, they're not kidding about it. Gore, sexual references and sweary words abound (though "mature" isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind when describing some of the humor).

Conker's low-level game mechanics are adequate, and very similar to those of its predecessors (Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, et al), but the high-level gameplay is much closer to that of a surreal Infocom text adventure -- there is almost no repetition between levels; your goal is different in each, and so is the way you have to go about achieving it. And there's very clearly a storyline. Not a very coherent one, but it's there and it's sharp.

And the game is HARD! This is probably the hardest video game (that I would still consider fair) that I've ever played. As with all the best Rare and Nintendo games, the learning curve is admirably shallow, but by the time you reach chapter seven, your abilities (and your frustration threshhold!) will be severely, uh, tested. Chapter eight is the longest in the game and unbelievably difficult. If you doubt, remember that this is coming from someone who routinely breezes through Super Mario Brothers inside 45 minutes (without warping, of course).

If you still doubt, then, for all I know, Conker will be easy for you.

Technical. The models are as detailed as you'll ever see on the N64, and the textures are as crisp as can be expected. The worlds are, of course, huge. Rare has also licensed The Miles Sound System and made good use of its MP3 decoding routines, so there are voices throughout (why they didn't do this for Perfect Dark rather than just downsampling, I have no idea).

The cut scenes are all very well done. Obligatory derision of full motion video goes here.

The music is excellent. A very wide variety of styles. We finally get to hear some of the team's groove-oriented work (in the Rock Solid dance club, lavaboarding sequence, and Matrix-esque bank heist), and there's still plenty of melody-oriented material to go around. It sounds like much of the music uses loops, now that that much more sound can be put on the cartridge.

This is probably the last really big release for the N64, and you would not do too poorly to make this the last game purchase for the system. Me, I'm still harboring the insane hope of a Super Mario 64 2.

This game is absolutely rife with zany quotes. Here's a few examples:

"Have you ever sat on a piece of Gothic architecture for two hundred years? Gets right up your arse, you know. I thought it was time to move onto a bridge, say. And I'm not moving now."
"Isn't it a little early in the day to be discussing Gothic architecture?" - Our hero Conker, talking with a large, irritable, sore-bottomed gargoyle blocking the path.

"Duct tape? I'll give him a duct tape! ****ing arsehole... I'll bring him down here, I'll show him where ze duct tape is, I'll show him where to stuff it!" - Resident mad scientist weasel known as "Zer Professor", obviously annoyed over the latest inane assignment he's gotten from the Panther King.

"I'm gonna take my big bone, and smash that puny squirrel!" - Buga the Knut, big jealous caveman guy with enormous bone club and a supposedly "big boner", threatening our hero after he catches the eye of Buga's best girl Jugga.

"I can't be arsed with this bloody ridiculous contraption! Whose idea was this anyway?" - Gregg, diminutive Grim Reaper-type, having trouble with the loudspeaker he uses to overcome his naturally squeaky voice.

With this kind of insanity, who needs Engrish-laden meme farms like Zero Wing?

WARNING
unappealing content plus minor spoilers lie below


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here be dragons
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Good enough.

Let me start by saying that the experience of playing Conker's Bad Fur Day is really what I would hope it would be like if I ever were to try LSD. For a quick refresher, the game details the misadventures of a cartoonish red squirrel attempting to find his way home after really tying one on the night before. The most truly surreal moment of the game comes after you enter the Dung Beetles' mountain, and meet the, uh, dread monster of Poo Mountain.

So. Here I am, late at night, playing merrily along in the Dung Beetle zone, and I enter the mountain, and after hearing the woeful tale of the monster of Poo Mountain (is this strange enough already? yes, it is.), I am presented with anthropomorphic corn, which a voice from below demands I throw in the center of the room.

After feeding several of these to the beast that dwells below, it rises up before me, a fearsome looking sort of poo-demon. No problem. "Ah," think I, "the boss." I sit back and expect some inane button-pressingly mindless combat. At which point, the giant poo monster opens its feculent mouth and says:

"Mi mi mi mi...."

For LO! This is no ordinary giant poo monster. This is a giant SINGING poo monster. A giant - singing - poo. With a deep, authoritative, and beautiful operatic voice. Upon realizing that what you are seeing is not the result of a petit mal seizure, there can be but one thought running through your head:

What kind of drugs do you need to take to come up with this stuff?
and where can I buy them? (optional)

To see the lyrics that the Great Mighty Poo will serenade you with, node your way over to Chucky Poo's Lament.


"Ah, you cursed squirrel, look what you've done. I'm flushing, I'm flushing! What a world, what a world. Who would have thought a good little squirrel like you could destroy my beautiful clagginess!" - Chucky Poo

Once upon a time, Rare created a happy little squirrel named Conker. Conker, it seems, was to be the star of "Conker's Day Out", yet another Rareware platformer. In this proposed game, the intrepid Conker found himself lost and far from home, and had to search for the right way back to his squirrely domicile.

Nintendo and Rare realized, however, that Yet Another Cutesy Character Platformer was probably not the way to go on a system that already had a nasty stigma of being "just for kids." Thus, Conker's Day Out, planned for a 1999/2000 release (Rare is never very good about release dates anyway) was quietly shelved*, and underwent a process of significant revision.

Conker's Bad Fur Day was developed by Rareware and published by Nintendo. The game was released in the US for the Nintendo 64 on March 6, 2001. (The European version was released on April 6, and there was no Japanese release.) The box cover and cart label are simple, with "Conker's" scribbled in red at the top and "BAD FUR DAY" in blocky text over a black background. Conker (holding a beer) and Berri are leaning against the logo.

As of this noding, CBFD is one of the most common N64 games, as it was somewhat overproduced, on top of being released late in the N64's life. Thus, it's as cheap as dirt; don't pay more than $10 for the game MIB, and don't pay more than a couple dollars for the cart alone. N64 emulation is still spotty, so any attempts to emulate this game will generally require a pretty beefy computer.

Conker, after a long night at the local pub, the Cock and Plucker, has found himself...well...he's not quite sure, but he's sure it's not home. Stuck far from home (being chased by weasels who plan to use him as a table leg), Conker needs to find his way back, and, along the way, make a lot of money, help whoever he has to to get by, and keep Berri from dumping him for standing her up.

Conker's Bad Fur Day is the antithesis of games like Banjo-Kazooie. It's rude, it's violent, and it's...well...the game the ESRB was thinking of when they created the "Mature" rating. (There's even an extra note on the front of the box that says, "ADVISORY: THIS GAME IS NOT FOR ANYONE UNDER AGE 17.")

CBFD is certainly only for adults, if not actually mature in the traditional sense of the word. Whether it's the generally gratuitous violence (even minor attacks send spurts of blood flying, as in Mortal Kombat) or excessive profanity (everything but f--- is uncensored), or having to battle a giant singing poo, the game earns its rating.

Unlike certain lame attempts at "adult" humor, CBFD is really, really funny. The dialogue is perfectly delivered; Conker is delivered with the perfect balance of cuteness and dementia, Zer Professor is suitable insane, and the minor characters all have a sort of low-brow British accent that suits the game perfectly.

If you watch carefully, you will probably spot quite a few movie references in CBFD. The opening scene is almost identical to the opening scene of A Clockwork Orange, for example, and the game references the Matrix, The Wizard of Oz, Jaws, and many others.

The big problem with the game, sadly, is that the gameplay itself is really pretty inane. Conker spends most of his time falling off of things or climbing ropes, and most of the challenge is due to the terrible, terrible camera. Even a skilled player will spend lots of time running into giant blades that seemed further away than they actually were.

Why would you want to play this game? Besides the incongruity of its existence (it was the first M-rated game Nintendo ever published, as well as a truly adult game on a pretty kid-oriented system), it's just hilarious. This is one of the funniest games since The Secret of Monkey Island.

Why might you want to take a pass? The game, in between the funny parts (which, to the game's credit, means that most of the game is fun), isn't much fun. You'll spend lots of time falling from great heights, or climbing the same damn three ropes to get that bundle of cash. Even the various odd minigames and weapons can't eliminate the intermittant tedium.

Conker's Bad Fur Day isn't for everyone, but as long as you aren't too young to get the jokes or easily frustrated, this is one of the N64 games to have.

* - All evidence of the cutesy Conker was not eliminated. Rare also released Conker's Pocket Tales, a mediocre Game Boy platformer showing the nice Conker, and nice Conker was a character in the (utterly forgettable) Diddy Kong Racing. According to Rare, however, Conker's Pocket Tales and Diddy Kong Racing show the young, still-innocent Conker, before he grew up to become the profanity-spewing squirrel of CBFD. Oh well. (Thanks to Servo5678 on the heads-up about Diddy Kong Racing.)

Sources: GameFAQs, Servo5678, Sasha Gabba Hey!/J. Totale, a good memory

Sasha Gabba Hey!/J. Totale sez: J. Totale says Interestingly, when the game was advertised on TV here [in Australia] the word "poo" was bleeped out, yet the phrase "eat my scat you little twat" was present in its entirety.

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