Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a 3D platformer adventure for Nintendo 64 developed by Rareware. The main plot is sectioned into two parts. The first part is that Conker, an anthropomorphic squirrel, is out drinking with his buddies. After having a bit too much, our main character heads for home. However, being too drunk to see, he instead winds up in some unknown land with a bad hangover.
Conker’s overall goal is to make his way back home so he can get some sleep. The other part of the main plot is that an evil king, that often enjoys drinking milk, has a problem. The table he places his milk on keeps falling over due to uneven legs, and this causes his milk to spill onto the floor. So he has his evil scientist come up with a solution… which is… er… to place a squirrel under the short leg to make the table even. This is an actual thing that is seriously in the game. So… much of the hostility Conker encounters during his journey is because of this ridiculous plot device. Along the way, other events happen. Conker’s girlfriend gets kidnapped, he fights off a horde of zombies, he joins the army, and many other things. Much of the journey consists of doing tasks for others, usually in exchange for money.
The gameplay is fairly simple. You can run and jump as in most platformers. You can also do a tail twirl to slow your descent and reach longer distances. Plus, you can attack enemies with your tail. Some parts of the game will have their own controls, such as when you’re given guns to shoot or given other tasks to accomplish. Much of the game plays out with an adventurous experience. There are many different styles of gameplay thrown at you, with many areas giving you context-sensitive spots to do specific things for the given situation. You could be platforming, shooting, even racing, and who knows what’s going to happen on those context-sensitive spots? It keeps you guessing and adapting. You get money along the way for helping characters with their problems, but you can also find lumps of cash in hard-to-reach places of levels. This money is used to progress through certain points in the game.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day feels different than Rareware’s other platformers on the system. Unlike Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Banjo-Tooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a crude adventure filled with changes and excitement around every turn. You constantly are changing locations and playstyles while meeting lots of new characters all the time. Plus the context-sensitive spots give even more variety to all the already varied parts. You don’t learn skills that carry over. Instead, you learn new ways to play for the given situation and use those skills for that amount of time. Also, this is no cutesy platformer like the others. This game is rated M. There’s all kinds of swearing in here including everything short of the F word. There’s sexual references here and there. There’s lots of gross humor involving feces. There’s even a character that tries to commit suicide! It’s some pretty crazy stuff to show up on game for a Nintendo console. This shocking content most likely comes from the game’s late and limited release. Plus, instead of revisiting levels you’ve already done, most of the time you’ll be pushed forward in the world to points where you can no longer turn back unless you pick specific parts from a menu. This makes the adventurous nature feel like it’s really progressing.
The ever-changing adventure full of crazy and humorous moments has some questionable characteristics, though. One big problem is that, with all the different types of gameplay coming and going, it’s hard to give the game a difficulty curve. Changing the style of play can make the game easy one moment and very difficult the next, or vice versa. It all depends on what type of gameplay you are good or bad at. This also affects how much you’re going to like the gameplay in general as well, based on how you feel about all the parts. While it is mostly a 3D platformer, there are a few sections that throw that idea out the window, but not too many to disregard the genre. Another issue is that not everything is explained. Whenever you’re introduced to new gameplay, be it a new genre for an area or simply a context-sensitive spot, you are given a brief summary of the controls. In some cases, it’s very well explained, giving you all the information you need. Other times, it gives you very little to go on. The inconsistency creates a false sense of understanding the controls in parts, which can lead to aggravation until the other mechanics are worked out through trial and error experimentation. There’s also a strange lack of connection between the player and Conker. Most of this is due to Conker’s character. Conker starts off the game by drinking heavily in a bar while on the phone with his girlfriend, lying about how he’s too busy to go out that night. Now, I know this game is rated M, but we all know parents still got this game for their kids, who probably wouldn’t be familiar with drinking alcohol. Even for older audiences, it’s not exactly a great character trait to be taking your girlfriend for granted. Also, Conker tried to cheat on her at one point… another not-so-lovable trait. Whenever he helps people out, it’s always in exchange for cash. How heroic. So Conker comes off as a greedy, lying, unfaithful drunk that cares more about himself than anyone else. How is this a relatable character? Beyond that, the disconnect is furthered when you realize that most of the events and motivations in the game are there for the player and not for the character of Conker. Your girlfriend gets kidnapped, which is only revealed in a cutscene to the player. Conker never even finds out about it. The enemy that’s trying to get you is again only presented in a cutscene to the player that Conker never really knows. The character motivations for Conker are to get home and get rich on the way, while the player is given much more to strive for even though they’re playing as Conker. This disconnect makes the game lose a bit of its impact. Only a handful of moments actually have gravity to them. Also, the shock factor of the game wears off a bit once you know what’s coming.
Even through these flaws, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is still very impressive. It has more questionable content than any other N64 game you’ll find out there. It has lots of gameplay styles rolled into one. The changing styles and lands you go through make for one of the most entertaining journeys you’ll ever have. The music is catchy, the graphics are detailed, and the whole game has voice acting. Plus there’s tons of multiplayer modes to keep you and your friends occupied for quite some time. A big world, big bosses, and big adventure await. It might not be worth some of the asking prices out there now, but it’s certainly not something any N64 enthusiast can afford to miss. Play it, enjoy it, and then get ready to admit it’s a classic.