Posted on February 21, 2013
My Top 100: #15 – Conker’s Bad Fur Day
It wasn’t the homage to A Clockwork Orange in the intro that got me thinking Conker’s Bad Fur Day was going to be something quite different. It wasn’t the fact that the story was about a cute, cuddly little squirrel with a massive hangover who just wanted to get home. It wasn’t even the constant barrage of foul language, or the suggestion that a male bee would only be interested in pollinating a sunflower because she had (*ahem*) “big stigmas”.
It was when I saw the warning labels written all over the box, and when the clerk at Blockbuster Video asked “You’re 18 years old, right?”
Never in my life had I tried renting a game only to be asked that particular question. Silent Hill, Turok games, Perfect Dark, Mortal Kombat II all the way through to 4, and not once was I ever carded for renting any of these violent games. Good thing, because I didn’t turn 18 until September of ’01, about eight months after trying to rent Conker.
“Yep, I am 18 for sure, man!”
The guy behind the counter had come to know my face from my countless lunch trips to that mini-mall, and though he could have easily assumed I wasn’t quite 18 yet, he let me walk out of the store with it.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the game, though. I hadn’t bought any EGM‘s for a while, and my Nintendo Power subscription had run out a year earlier, so I knew nothing of its existence. The game was made by Rare, and although I hadn’t played Banjo Kazooie (or Tooie), that’s pretty much what it looked like from the back of the box. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it all that much, but it was worth a shot!
I popped it in, turned it on, and I was plopped into a world of fairytales and talking animals, all of which might be inspired by stories from our childhood. After a quick explanation of the game’s context-sensitive controls from the intoxicated scarecrow named Birdy, I grabbed my trusty frying pan and set off on an epic adventure.
One of the things that makes Bad Fur Day so great is the way the world is structured. You start off in a cave at the mouth of a waterfall, and after you get accustomed to the controls a bit and exit the area, you’re brought to this game’s version of Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64. From this main area, there’s a door that leads to every single level in the game, even though they’re not all accessible right away (which makes sense).
The world is so vividly colourful that you can’t help but explore every corner of it. “What’s over here? Oooh! Why is there barbed wire here? What if I climb up this narrow path with vicious worms attacking me? Why does that sign say ‘Don’t go this way’?” If you explore enough, progressing in the game will just sort of take care of itself.
For example, after helping a sobbing Queen Bee retrieve her nest that’s been stolen, you travel on down the path a bit further to find easily aggravated dung beetles, guarding their mountain of poo. A door opens, you explore some more, make new friends, help them out, beat a boss, come back to the main area, explore some more, find areas that are now accessible, repeat… it’s that simple.
The context-sensitive controls come into play when you stand on a “B” platform (self-explanatory, really), and it pretty much lays it all out on the line for you, right there – “here’s a weapon, and we’re pointing you in the direction of potential targets… figure it out!” Some of the later levels pay homage to zombie and Dracula flicks, Saving Private Ryan, The Matrix, and Aliens, so at around the half-way point, the game switches its focus on action rather than platforming.
The game itself is incredibly fun, because you just never know what Conker’s going to find himself doing next. Whether you’re throwing toilet paper into the mouth of an opera-singing poo monster, getting drunk and urinating on lizards made of fire, or chasing down cavemen thieves on your rocket-propelled surfboard, chances are pretty good that you’ll be having a good time doing it.
2005’s Conker: Live and Reloaded for Xbox gave the graphics and some of the controls an overhaul, as well as a few new multiplayer modes. The writing and humour were back, but there was a catch; unfortunately, the game was censored a fair amount for this release, which is strange… you’d think that, with more recent games of the time pushing the envelope quite a bit, Microsoft wouldn’t mind allowing Rare to get more vulgar than they did for a Nintendo 64 exclusive. I guess not!
If ever you find either version of the game, though, PICK IT UP! You won’t regret it!
That weekend I rented Conker for the first time, I couldn’t dedicate quite as much time to it as I wanted to. The ESApalooza\Battle of the Bands at my school was coming up, and my guitarist friend Tom and I had a jam session scheduled the day after renting the game. We were in the process of trying to find a drummer, so I wasn’t really in a position to skip this in favour of playing a video game.
I was in the same class as the drummer guy’s sister, and when she first mentioned that he played drums, I jumped at the opportunity to jam with him. I didn’t know him all that well, but with nothing to lose, Tom and I packed up our amps and headed out to his place.
The room he had his drums set up in wasn’t that big. It smelled like garbage, and we had to keep our shoes on because the floor was so cold. Tom and I didn’t really have a list of songs to jam, but he and I knew what songs we could both play. Unfortunately, the drummer guy didn’t really know any of the songs we knew, and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the only song we could all jam together, without any issues.
Although he was a pretty nice kid, and not the worst drummer I had ever heard, we left his place pretty discouraged. Time was running out on finding a drummer before the show, and we wanted enough time to be able to get to know the person, and have fun with the whole process of practicing and getting ready.
We moseyed on back to Tom’s place, and when I called Mom up to see if we needed anything in town, she informed me that the power had been out there for quite some time. For the next few hours, Tom and I surfed around iMesh and Napster to see what tunes would be fun to play at the show. We had no clue if we were even going to find a drummer in time, but we at least wanted to be prepared in the event that we did!
In the end, I was able to join a band with two friends I didn’t even know played music. With Justin and Max (and backup guitarist Tom), No Complaints hit up ESApalooza 2001 with a vengeance! Yeahhhh, buddy! What a fantastic night that was!