Remember back in late 99 - early 00, when the N64 was marked for death, a dying system? And every large-size N64 project was being called 'the last great N64 game'? Well, this is the longest death scene ever, and it's on one hell of an amazing winning streak. Mario Tennis, Paper Mario... and Conker's Bad Fur Day.
Everybody has read the press: BFD is vulgar. Not R-rated as such; they beep out the F word. But lots of shit and bastard and oddball British slang word that you won't even recognize as curses because they all sound like fake sci-fi swear words. You know, git, tish, bloody, etc. There's a bit of sex, mainly in terms of objectifying women... and lots of fart comedy. But under all of that is a wildly solid game that never stops amazing you on all fronts... graphics, gameplay, design, details, extras. If this game doesn't get N64 Game of the Year, there better be one damn good game that beats it. (So far, Paper Mario is the only competition.)
I'm not going to bother with Conker's storied past - how it went from cutsey kids pablum to over-the-top obscene - because that is all secondary. Now that we can all play it (and not just gape at rude screenshots), BFD is all about gameplay.
Basically, it's a 3D free-roaming platformer, with all the 'worlds' attached instead of being discrete levels. Think Sonic Adventure Dreamcast instead of Sonic 2 Genesis. Each world area contains 4 to 8 mini-quests, usually nicely dovetailed into one another. Often, you'll enter an area with no particular goal in mind, and just dope around until something cool happens to you.
And that's kind of the theme to the whole thing. Conker really isn't the adventurous sort; this isn't Captain Conker's Amazing Squirrel World Adventure. Conker is just wandering around waiting for things to happen, hoping that it's nothing dangerous... sometimes the goal is money, sometimes the goal is just to get the hell out. I've been playing for 12 hours and haven't even gotten to the whole squirrel war scenario that was alluded to in the opening cinema. (The intro sequence is incredibly long... which can be a struggle if you're trying to get an impatient person introduced to the game.)
Here's some of the quests you'll encounter (and if this doesn't interest you, you're either a total prude or a non-gamer):
* collecting sentient cheese slices to feed to a flatulent rat
Answer: Because it's funny.
Connecting Conker's quests is a ceaseless stream of movies, detailing Conker's journey back home, and the goings-on of his missing girlfriend and the milk-spilling problems of the evil Panther King. Oh yeah, this isn't another game where some stupid villain wants to rule the world or kidnap a princess. The Panther King just needs something to prop up his broken table, and Conker is exactly the right size. Every other game in the world needs to take plot lessons from BFD.
Here's something else that'll amaze. Every single cutscene uses real voice audio. You don't have to read text aloud, the characters all talk. Every single scene. I have to ask, where in the hell are all these audio files hiding on that cartridge? I also have to ask, why do all other games suck in comparison? Another audio bonus is that BFD runs full 5 speaker Surround Sound. God, is that bliss. You'll hate playing all other games after just listening to BFD.
Visually, it's a stunner. Conker himself is very well animated... the vaunted facial expression system from the original Conker concepts is beautiful. His whole face will change when running, jumping, waiting... not just switching to another face graphic, but with actual individual cheekbone, eyelid, pupil, chin and mouth movements. The worlds, although mainly blocky, are bright and varied; there are ample transparency effects and minimal texture duplicating. And it doesn't even require the RAM expansion pack! How can this be? Rare is just that good at coding for the N64, I guess. They should get the Nobel Freaking Peace Prize for this game.
Quibbles. Well, the manual doesn't seem to mention that the Right shoulder button puts you into look mode, which can make a huge difference in helping you get the lay of the land. Sometimes, abrupt camera changes between scenes can throw you off, particularly if you're in a tight, narrow spot and not used to using the N64 joystick in a 3D platformer.
I was also minorly irritated when I had no idea what to do to keep the game moving. This is a problem in all 3D adventure-style games, but particularly in one that's so loose with regular goals. In the disco level, it took me quite a bit of walking around to find the sober-up station, just because I kept overlooking it. The barrel guy who wants money sent me back through some levels looking for money I had ignored the first time through.
All in all, I've had no need of any cheats or hints; the game just flows from level to level. The general rule is, if you wander around enough, you'll eventually trigger the cutscene or find the hidden area to escape. In that regard, I'm worried that BFD is a tad too easy. But, this has been some of the best, most varied, funniest, and highest quality platform gaming of my life... over 12 hours with no end in sight is remarkable. In terms I'm sure Conker would appreciate, it may not be hard, but it sure is long. And worth every inch.