If you owned an N64 at any point in time, you should be ashamed of yourself if Conker’s Bad Fur Day doesn’t ring a bell. The raunchy, pop culture reference stuffed, action/adventure game starring every adults favorite squirrel released by Rare definitely made a name for itself. As Conker’s BFD is on my list of top 5 Nintendo 64 titles, it’s easy to say I went nuts with excitement when I saw the reveal trailer that Conker would be making his return as a part of Project Spark, the Xbox One title that gives everyone the ability to be their own game developer.
The aforementioned excitement propelled itself out of a tempered glass window on the 10th story of a building after spending $5 and the very short hour that part 1 of Conker’s Big Reunion provided. Big Reunion was clunky at best; hindered by painful frame rate drops (that drop from low to lower), clunky controls (you’ll love the platform-jumping sections!), and just enough nostalgia to keep me running through the entire experience. The story takes place after the events of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Conker wakes up hungover (which was awesome) and is informed by his scarecrow buddy, Birdy, that a reunion is being held at the Cock & Plucker bar (the same bar from BFD). However, upon trying to enter the bar, he is informed that he has to pay his past due, $300 bar tab. The entire story, or lack thereof, of part 1 revolves around you fighting off Tediz and navigating through three different “levels” to obtain the money you owe. When I first started up the game, I was happy to see that you still wield the signature frying pan, Conker’s form of a double jump is still using his tail as a propeller, and the controls felt like a classic action/adventure game at heart. Sadly, the frame rate painfully drops immediately after any sort of action hits the screen, and the controls just feel really blocky. When trying to land on platforms, there was multiple times where I landed but still overshot due to the inadequacy of the controls. I think these problems may lie within Project Spark in general and it definitely hurt the experience. Personally, I do like the idea of Conker having his new home within the Project Spark world. I think it’s a very creative idea, and the user content I messed around with after playing Big Reunion was enjoyable. The problem with Project Spark being the host of this game, however, is that I think most of the problems I had were solely due to the limitations of Spark. Easily the best example of these flaws, and the most frustrating experience of the whole package was during a boss battle. You have to hide behind boxes during the bosses laser attack, and run to specific spots in order to incapacitate the boss. Almost every single time I attempted to stop behind the proper box to keep myself from getting hit, Conker would overshoot it due to the screwy controls. I almost gave up on the game from the damn near 10 attempts it took me to finally defeat that boss segment. Also, when attempting to jump on certain platforms, it seems like there is some type of graphical glitch that makes it so you have to execute a double jump from a slight distance away and hover onto the platform, rather than just being able to jump on it fluidly. One other thing, the first person segment felt like it was running on the Nintendo 64 because it played so poorly. There was a lot left to be desired from Big Reunion and I hope they make a lot of tweaks for the future installments.
There are definitely some enjoyable aspects of Conker’s Big Reunion despite the impression that I absolutely despised it (I wanted to love it so bad!). My favorite part of the experience was the stealth segment. While simple, it was challenging enough and definitely the most fun I had playing the game. The nods to the Metal Gear franchise were awesome as well. Big Reunion definitely isn’t nearly as raunchy as Bad Fur Day in any regard, but Conker’s drunken antics and remarks are still plentiful, and there was a few laughs brought to the table. The combat was about as fluid as the game would allow it to be, and it was fun enough to keep me trudging through.
The best parts of Big Reunion had to be the environments and the voice acting. Chris Seavor reprised his roles as Conker and Birdy, and that was the biggest leg the game had to stand on in terms of enjoyment. The biggest thing Project Spark has going for it is that the art style of the game is very vibrant and pleasing to the eyes. The inclusion of Conker-esque objects and environments really made the game look exactly as I had hoped. The graphics aren’t incredible, but the environments still were solid.
Conker’s Big Reunion was probably the biggest disappointment since Duke Nukem Forever. What was a great idea with a ton of potential was heavily damaged by gut-wrenchingly painful frame rates, graphical glitches, and controls so choppy, you’d think they were a sioux chef. The empty story still provides a few laughs that feed solely on aged toilet humor and pop culture references; as expected from our furry friend. Even the small $5 asking price is about $4.99 too much to spend on Big Reunion. If you’re dying to play it, I recommend going all-in and spending the extra $5 to get all the Conker content so you can make your own, better Conker successor when you’re done missing simple platform jumps.