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ups: extremely funny, great voice acting
downs: short, dated

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Conker Live & Reloaded
game: Conker Live & Reloaded
four star
posted by: Laurie Taylor
publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
developer: Rare
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ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 12:20 PM Mon Aug 15th, 2005
last revision: 01:44 PM Tue Aug 16th, 2005

Click to read.Conker: Live & Reloaded is an updated and expanded version of Conker\'s Bad Fur Day, which was released on the Nintendo 64 at basically the end of its life. The late release of Rare\'s last game for the N64 and the old console wars - remember when the console wars were between Sega, Sony, and Nintendo - led to a smaller than anticipated distribution of Conker\'s Bad Fur Day. The original Conker was set to make a bit of gaming history by combining platforming stereotypes (fluffy small creature fighting against evil, like Sonic in some ways) with foul language, adult situations, and parodies of mature-rated films (like A Clockwork Orange). While the original Conker was far from lost and forgotten, it still didn\'t get the time and recognition it deserved. It\'s a bit late now, but the release of Conker\'s Live and Reloaded promises to ensure that Conker will remain in gaming and in gaming history as it should.

The first Conker issued in an era when Nintendo was primarily kid-friendly; in a time before Resident Evil on the GameCube, a time when Nintendo didn\'t include blood. The raunchy humor and alcohol references were also a rare treat in 2001. Yet, the subsequent release of Grand Theft Auto III and the opening of the Mature market has tempered the radical nature of Conker\'s adult humor and gameplay. The newest Conker is a great game, even while not quite as revolutionary as it was in 2001.

Overall Conker: Live & Reloaded plays like it is - an extremely well-designed and rendered game. The graphics on it are stunning both during the cut-scenes and in-game play. The game begins with a drunken Conker calling his girlfriend Berri. Next, Conker leaves a message on Berri\'s answering machine while she obliviously aerobicizes, flexing and twisting her voluptuous and scantily-clad furry body. Conker wanders home drunk, passes out, and then finds himself lost and still drunk when the game begins.

The game has film parodies-of the Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, and many others-sprinkled throughout. These inclusions are fabulous because of their humor and because they show how games can reference films without becoming films themselves or existing as game-film crossovers. The films referenced are a bit older, but they\'re still memorable so the humor and references come across. The game story itself remains Conker trying to get back to Berri. However, the story is populated with such interesting, and often profane, characters as to be quite radical even with such a simple general plot.

For the actual gameplay, the introduction is a bit forced, with a scarecrow explaining, and re-explaining, how to use the B button on spaces marked with a \"B\" to activate context-sensitive helps. This is all wittily explained, but it\'s a bit lengthy since the cut-scene conversations can\'t be skipped the first time they play. The cut-scenes are fabulous though, and well worth watching; it\'s just sometimes more fun to ignore cut-scenes and just play. Gameplay from here progresses as in most platformers, with Conker jumping-and-hovering through a nice spinning tail move, running, and attacking. There\'s not as much fighting in the platforming levels as might be desired, but the gameplay is fairly solid with only minor handling issues. The visual and audio quality are great, as are the voice acting, stories, and characters.

As a standard platformer with a twist, Conker takes another twist when, part of the way through the game, the gameplay switches to that of a first-person shooter. This section of the game also plays rather well, but it\'s a bit bizarre to be playing one style of game and to then have it switch to another style. It transitions rather smoothly overall and the variety makes for a more interesting gaming experience.

The major improvements to Conker, aside from the revision of Conker\'s Bad Fur Day, are in the multiplayer Xbox Live play. This is akin to Bad Fur Day with its 4 player mode, but this iteration adds the ability to play using Xbox Live or through a System Link. In it, players can choose to be one of six combat specialists in multiple campaigns. The multi-player gaming expands Conker: Live & Reloaded to more than just an interesting blending of cute and corrupt.

Conker Live & Reloaded offers a great gaming experience, and a great movement in gaming because the Conker games cross the general borders between stereotypical kid friendly and realistic/mature games. However, the game is rather short. Multiplayer makes up for additional game play, but at some point players will want more. For those looking for a more kid-friendly approach, Conker also has Conker\'s Pocket Tales for the Game Boy Color. In it, Conker must save Berri from the Evil Acorn. For those looking for more of the stuff that makes Conker great-even without Conker himself-Raze\'s Hell focuses on killing cute, cuddly, and evil creatures-imagine killing mean-spiriting Care Bears. Even as a short game, and as a game released in a new gaming era with mature games, humorous takes on old gaming narratives like Destroy All Humans, Conker Live & Reloaded remains well worth playing.

Conker also showcases an additional rating-warning-for parents that miss that the cute creatures on the cover are smoking and carrying huge guns-that states \"Warning: This game is not for anyone under age 17.\" This could be part of a growing trend, especially with the recent Hot Coffee debacle, and it could help to reduce some of the insane arguments about games and violence.

An Aside
I\'d love to give Conker Live & Reloaded a glowing endorsement, but one thing holds me back, nausea. For whatever reason, some people get motion sickness playing games. It happens to me infrequently and normally the anti-nausea properties of ingesting a bit of ginger or ginger candy (or even ginger snap cookies) eliminates the problem. Old N64 games were always the worst for me in terms of inducing my nausea, and Conker Live and Reloaded is true enough to its roots in Conker\'s Bad Fur Day that it also made me sick even with an abundance of ginger. Anyone who doesn\'t suffer from motion sickness will have a great time with Conker; for those that have motion sickness, my only advice is to rent before you buy. Gamers will get a great game no matter what, it\'s just a matter of whether or not anyone really want to eat that much ginger.

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