Hey guys, guess who wrote the only negative review again!
- Graphics are the best you are going to find on the Nintendo 64.
- The music is quite entertaining.
- The game is fully voice-acted and I must say that it's done quite professionally.
- Controls like a brick.
- Incredibly poor gameplay.
- Repetitive and childish humor.
- I genuinely don't want to play this.
The Bottom Line
Yes, I am doing the review in this style again. Partly because I have too little to work with and partly because I just got done moving an entire house full of laminate to the recycling-center. That aside though, "Conker's Bad Fur Day" is probably the game I have received the most requests for since I started reviewing games, but due to the price of the original cartridge (which tends to go for freaking 60 euros), I kept holding it back. Now that I have finally caved in, let's talk about the game and why I didn't like it.
The game actually started off pretty well, Conker the Squirrel wakes up in the middle of nowhere and has to find a way back home. The problems however become very obvious, very soon. After talking with a character I had to jump across a few platforms to reach a bridge, it seemed like no big deal to me because I am used to platforming, but Conker controls unlike anything I have ever experienced before. To jump you have to hold Z and then press the A-button, but at the exact right height you need to press A again to activate his hover (you won't get anywhere without that hover). It took me more than an hour to get used to this and when I looked up a Let's Play of other people trying it, they seemed to have the same problem regardless of whether they had played it before or not.
Controls are a constant problem in Conker and there always seems to be something buggering me about them. In the very first level you need to scale a giant tower at one point, in the same fashion as the carnival level from Banjo & Kazooie, but you always either let go, slip off or just miss the ladder altogether. Since Conker has no method of saving himself from falls (Kazooie's wing, Mario's ground-pound, Link's roll and etc.) this means you die instantly. Falls are also really weird, at one point I fell of a roof and took no damage, but after getting slightly higher on the roof and falling again I died instantly.
Okay, so the controls are terrible, but poor controls do not always mean that the gameplay itself is poor as well. Sadly, this time around it totally does. The first level of a game is supposed to draw players in and show off what they can expect later, therefore the first level is often not very difficult and involves little to no annoying mechanics. Mumbo's Mountain from Rare's true magnum opus comes to mind in this case. However, the farm-level that starts of Conker's Bad Fur Day is beyond tedious, the only thing you can do at the start is deal with a rat that is harassing some people. How do you do this? By walking halfway across the map to get some cheese for him, not spectacular, but not bad either. The problem? You have to do this roughly 3-4 times without dying in between!
That alone is simply retarded! Why would you start off your game with demanding that the player crosses the same obstacle course multiple times with no changes made to it? I was willing to forgive this by assuming that it was merely a way to open up the rest of the level and finally get the open-world effect that made other Rare games at the time so memorable, but once again this was not the case. What followed up after this aggravating fetch-quest was yet another one where I had to find 5-6 swarms of bees scattered across the map, this wouldn't be too bad, if they weren't placed at the most inconvenient points that make sure you die instantly when falling.
Writing all this down has made me realize that when people talk about this game, it is always about the humor (will get back to that later), but when you ask about controls and gameplay the conversation usually moves on. In some rare cases though, people praised the context-sensitivity buttons for been innovative tools that create variety in the gameplay. I can see where this is coming from, it's indeed clever that you can stand on a platform and press a button to get a new gameplay mechanic just for that moment. It makes sure that Rare didn't have to integrate a dozen or so actions in the standard control-scheme and indeed create any scenario they wanted without fear of restrictions.
What is my problem with them then? My problem is that they ruin any sense of thought, the second you walk into a new area and see that button, you have already figured out the puzzle. Let's just say you arrive in a room full of ghosts and see a context-sensitivity platform, the second you step on it and click the button you receive a flashlight. Would you, for even a second, doubt that the solution to navigating the room was using the flashlight on the ghosts? Now let's take the same scenario, but make the flashlight part of your basic equipment, along with several other tools and gadgets. The flashlight still seems like a logical solution, but if the other tools also relate to ghosts, you'd have to spend some time experimenting and maybe different ghosts react to different tools, meaning you'd have to switch and plan your moves.
Moving on to the humor... seriously guys? This is what caused hundreds of recommendations over the years? I don't mean to insult anybody, but this is a perfect case of liking something for the sole reason of it standing out, the same could be said about the insane praise given to Braid for been very artsy. Back on the Nintendo 64 violence and sex were very scarce and if they were in the game, they were very underplayed (no blood, no corpses and no openly stating that somebody was dead), so when a game like Conker comes out, everybody praises it for not doing this.
I would forgive this if Conker was genuinely clever, but frankly I must say that the humor will feel to most as repetitive and childish. Hearing a cartoon character swear or watching them get drunk may get a smile out of you once, but after a while it will lose all effect and become something that is just kind of there, to the point of it becoming awkward. Even more awkward is the constant vomiting and flatulence-jokes that show up everywhere all the time. Characters randomly release gas, there is an entire level early on dedicated to human and animal feces and even the intro shows characters vomiting. You'd have to be very young to get any enjoyment out of this.
While I would be willing to accept this all as merely the humor not been my thing, there is on flaw that genuinely affects the experience regardless of your age. This flaw is Conker's inconsistent behavior. Conker is at times downright psychotic, blatantly murdering anybody that he meets for no other reason than "because he can". Let's call this the Duke Nukem side of his behavior. I am sure some people would like this, but at various points in the plot Conker suddenly comes over as a genuinely sympathetic character. What kind of character does this leave you with? One moment he is using duct-tape to save the life of a wooden character he had met just an hour ago and a few moments later he is making jokes about the brutal murder on a baby dinosaur that accepted him as a mother he is about to commit. This behavior in turn results that Conker becomes a non-character, one that the player simply can't love due to the lack of any kind of characteristics. When Conker kills or at least witnesses the death of other main characters, all I could think of was how much rather I would have played as them.
So there you have it folks: a game that doesn't play well, isn't funny, requires no thought and is frankly obnoxious to sit through. I admit not always been immune to the powers of nostalgia, but to circle around a game whose only perk is that it stood out for been inappropriate for children at the time it was released is just downright silly. If they had worked more on making the game play more fluently and been less tedious, then perhaps Conker would fit right in with all the other high-quality puzzle/platformers from the 90's that people still love today, a status that while not as unique as it turned out, is at least a million times more admirable and rewarding.