When Rare first showed off Conker 64, it was criticised for being too close to Banjo-Kazooie: a cutesy and cuddly platformer. Rare took this on board and went the complete opposite direction: a violent and rude adventure filled with swearing. It starts off with Conker drunk and taking the wrong way home, resulting in a lot of misfortune.
The humour of Conker’s Bad Fur Day still holds up, with lots of snappy comebacks, rude jokes and lots of crazy things happening. The “amateur” feel of the voice acting (which is performed by the developers) actually works extremely well, with some brilliant British accents you generally don’t hear in games – like dung beetles with heavy scouse accents.
Throughout the game you’ll go through a mixture of settings, such ones you would find in other platformers (farms, haunted mansion, caveman themes), ones based on popular films like Saving Private Ryan and The Matrix and some which are quite unique to conker’s Bad Fur Day (like a dung pile). You’ll come across a wonderful assortment of characters.
Gameplay is fairly simple. You move around and jump, you have a longer second jump and a high jump. Across the map are context sensitive buttons. Press B on these and something special will happen – what exactly depends on the context of the button. They essentially give Conkey exactly what he needs at that time (as Conker himself describes it). The lives system also has an explanation, as told to us by Gregg the Grim Reaper, saying that Squirrels are a special case like cats (which Greg hates).
Unfortunately, these jumping mechanics feel extremely dated and have not aged as well as Banjo-Kazooie. Jumping feels delayed and it’s very easy to misjudge where Conker is in relation to platforms, meaning you’ll miss a lot of jumps and it will feel like the game is at fault because of it. On top of this, the camera is a pain to move and will give you horrible angles a lot of the time. Due to this, Conker’s Bad Fur Day feels incredibly clunky and is not fun to play.
It’s a big shame as everything else is so wonderfully done: the crazy plot, the fun designs and ideas, the charm of the swearing and violence from cute characters. Conker’s Bad Fur Day received no improvements for the Rare Replay version. There is a remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which was criticised for censoring more than the N64 version, but I do wonder if it’s nicer to play. I’ll be finding that out soon.