The game opens on a scene of a throne room, with a red squirrel sat in the throne, surrounded by various characters. The music, regal and dramatic, plays in the background as the prologue is narrated by Conker himself:
“Well, there I am, Conker the king; king of all the land. Who’d have thought that? But how did I come to this, you say. And who are those strange fellows that surround my throne. That you also say. It’s a long story. Come closer and I’ll tell you. It all started yesterday, and what a day that was! It’s what I like to call, a bad fur day.”
And for a Bad Fur Day, it was actually fantastic.
Originally, the game had started with the character that a few had been familiar with in Diddy Kong Racing. The character who laughed and was full of joy and smiles, just another character in the Rare/Nintendo universe, went from this cuddly interpretation, to one of beer, bullets and babes.
The game starts with the prologue above, and continues as we follow Conker through an evening out two days ago, in a pub with a “couple of the guys” who are off “to fight some war or something”. He lies to his girlfriend Berri over the phone, gets incredibly drunk, and stumbles off into the night to try and find his way home. He vomits on a stranger almost immediately after exiting the pub.
He awakens the next morning in an unfamiliar environment, and, as you talk to the alcoholic scarecrow in the field, called Birdy (not Beardy; he hasn’t got a beard), about how to find your way home, you begin to realise that this might not be the usual platformer…
So the gameplay centres around getting Conker home through the strange land that he inhabits, but along the way he becomes “side-tracked”, by cash and giant mostly-nude cave-women. But while he is finding his way home, the Evil Panther King is trying to find out why he cannot keep his glass of milk on the table. After calling in his top scientist, Ze Professor, he discovers that it has a slight gap where there should be a table leg. A few threats later, and Ze Professor is plotting war with his army of abomination creations, the evil Tediz!
And so, Conker plods through a selection of areas, trying to earn some cash and get home, and solving everyone else’s problems along the way. There are colourful creatures whom you may grow an attachment to, but the greatest characters in the game in my opinion are the baddies.
The multiplayer in the game is excellent, and sports dedicated maps and game modes. In the original N64 version (in my opinion the definitive version), such games included Raptor, where you could play as a team of cavemen stealing dino eggs to fry in your enormous frying pan, or as an enormous dinosaur and eat cavemen and bring them home for the baby raptors to eat.
Another, aptly called “Beach”, has you playing as the “Frenchies”, trying to cross the border and reach safety. You carry no weapons, by the way. On the other hand, you could play as the Tediz, and try to stop them crossing the border with Missiles, a Turret or a Sniper Rifle.
Then there were the two War games, Colours and Total War. In colours, you scramble from your base, across the field, into the enemy base and capture their flag, dash back across carrying the flag (disabling weapons whilst being carried), and pop it into your base. Its brother, Total War, is very similar, except that instead of a flag its a canister of toxic gas, and instead of taking it to your base you take it to an underground shelter that closes once it has been deployed, killing all outside the shelter.
In the Xbox re-release, the game modes had changed to a territory style multiplayer, where places mean points mean prizes. The maps were bigger, there were unique units with unique weaponry and more players could fight at once. But there were no raptors eating cavemen anywhere, and so it became a good multiplayer, but not as special as it had been before.
The Good Points!
The depth of multiplayer in the N64 version warrants a look all on its own, as does the comedy in the game. The character voicing was fantastic, as were the characters themselves. In no other game could you battle a giant, singing poo by flinging toilet roll at it (just google “the great mighty poo” for the full video) or shoot at scouse dung beetles (those are the voices usually associated with Liverpool, if you aren’t aware). You were also introduced to Greg, the Grim Reaper, with his short stature and squeaky voice.
The game was also very good at aping popular media, with clear references to films such as Dracula, Jaws, The Matrix and Alien all providing some of the best action/platform/comedy moments in gaming.
The Bad Points
The Xbox re-release. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a fantastic game, and it has a shiny new set of textures to make the game look very good. But there were some minor, irritating changes. For starters, some of the naughty words were bleeped. Nintendo did what Microsoft didn’t, and left them in for us. The multiplayer was different too, and not what I had grown to love. But aside from that, it was still an excellent game.
So, my opinion? If you have a still working N64, and a few controllers, pick it up. It’s not as cheap, but it is a brilliant game. After a few hours, you and a few friends could be pissing yourselves with laughter. And possibly on each other, as “urine” is also a weapon in one of the death match modes. Which is just lovely. If you don’t, have an original xbox, the game does play on 360, but of course multiplayer is local only.
Pick up the Xbox edition here: Conker: Live & Reloaded (Xbox)