Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

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Conker’s Bad Fur Day

As i’ve said a few times before, buying N64 games back when I was a kid was expensive. Very expensive. With price-tags of up to £60 per title, I could only afford to buy a game once every blue moon.

It just so happens that one game I did end up paying full whack for was Conker’s Bad Fur Day – and I think I ended up getting my money’s worth.

Starting of development life as the sickeningly twee looking and kid-friendly Twelve Tales: Conker 64 – developers Rare made a complete u-turn, deciding to make the game an adult, swear filled romp instead.

It was an inspired move, and the game has a freewheeling charm that’s still refreshing today as a result.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

Unlike the bloated collectathon that was Banjo Tooie (released around the same time and also developed by Rare), Bad Fur Day is a more linear and focused experience – and has aged better as a result.

I say focused, but the game boasts such an eclectic mix of settings and genres it’s hard to keep up.

Starting off with a bright and colourful farmyard stage, the game then has you climbing a mountain of faeces, and then throws you into a prehistoric world – and that’s just for starters.

The game has a deceptively simple way of tying all these wildly different concepts together though, and that’s through the use of ‘context sensitive’ buttons.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

Simply put, these are pads which you can stand on, press B, and are given a relevant tool to help you in your current predicament. Whatever that may be.

Teetering on a thin walkway with bats attacking you? Press B on the relevant spot, and your fire off a flamethrower that sees those bats bite the dust within seconds.

Need to attacks a giant boiler’s brass testicles? Press B, and you can whack them with a pair of bricks.

A deviously simple way to inject even more unpredictability into affairs, these buttons are fortunately used reasonably sparingly – otherwise they have made the game’s design feel a little too amateurish.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

What’s really surprising when looking back at the game is how simple many of the challenges are, and how they sometimes only feel fresh due to how they’re set up.

An arena based combat section is nothing new for example, but riding a velociraptor and making it tear terrified caveman limb from limb is.

The game is also bolstered by some truly stunning bosses, and to list them all here would be to ruin the surprise.

One is much better known than all the others though, and is still as mad, operatic and quotable now as the day the game was released.

In terms of presentation Bad Fur Day is still impressive as well. The graphics may now appear a bit angular and fuzzy by today’s standards, but the full speech used in cutscenes and the quality of the game’s script still stands up.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

The humour is strictly lowbrow of course, and there are perhaps a few too many film references and parodies – but it’s genuinely amusing stuff for the most part.

The game’s flaws still stand out though, and against modern titles they look even worse than they did back in 2001.

The camera is very poor, and you’ll be wrestling with is by using the C-buttons a lot of the time. In terms of difficulty the game can also be very unforgiving, with the latter parts of the war section in particular being controller-smashingly unfair.

Another element of the game that is bemusing is the lives system. When you lose all your lives you see a game over screen, but once you’ve started up your save file you simply start from the latest checkpoint where you were before. What’s the point?

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

It’s nonsensical design choices like this that can end up making the game feel a little dated, but they’re not enough to stop the game from being worth playing.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is still a genuinely brilliant experience, and one that can be as frustrating as it is laugh out loud funny.

If you can persist through the occasional low-points the game offers up a mad-cap quest that hasn’t been seen before or since.

It’s just a shame that the game is so damn rare nowadays, mainly due to being released right at the end of the N64’s lifespan.