Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Nintendo 64

Conker’s Bad Fur Day was a surprising 2001 release – on the Nintendo 64 – for British developer Rare, in collaboration with Nintendo.

What is surprising about it is that it is an “adult” game – meaning: it contains cartoon characters behaving in ways that you don’t normally see in a Nintendo game, like vomiting on people’s shoes, making sexual innuendo, and using mild swear words.

The game begins with a cinematic Clockwork Orange-style scene, with Conker (a squirrel) looking over the top of a glass of milk as the camera slowly tracks backwards while a pseudo Beethoven musical score warbles away in the background. You know – or at least should know – at this point what kind of game this is going to be… And that is: extremely satirical, and with maybe a bit of a screw loose…

When Conker’s Bad Fur Day eventually gets going the first thing you have to do is get rid of Conker’s hangover, which is an unusual way of introducing a player to the game. Then you go on a surreal 3D platform adventure, full of Pythonesque characters, toilet humour, silly and poor taste jokes, endless tasks and puzzles, tons of film references, and of course the occasional boss battle (including one where you fight a giant turd).

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a game that will appeal to adults who like puerile humour, and also to children as a “forbidden” game that “must not be played under any circumstances”, but they all do… It’s actually not that bad in terms of its ‘adult’ nature, and doesn’t contain anything too contentious, which is why Nintendo allowed Rare to make the game in the first place.

More: Conker’s Bad Fur Day on Wikipedia

Shadow Warrior 2, PC

A modern remake of the classic 3D Realms shooter is a great idea – the original adventures of Lo Wang (the lead character in the Shadow Warrior games, and the character you play in this) were a lot of fun.

Cutting straight to the chase: Shadow Warrior 2 is absolutely brilliant! Not only a fitting tribute to the 1997 original, but also a hugely entertaining and surprising game in its own right. Surprising because developer Flying Wild Hog has really expanded the remit of the first-person shooter with Shadow Warrior 2 and mixed-in some very interesting RPG-style elements into the gameplay. Also surprising because the detail in the game is just relentless – weapons; upgrades; skills; enemies; bosses; jokes… There is so much to take in that it sometimes feels hard to keep up!

One aspect of the gameplay that I think is interesting is in how missions are played-out. Rather than you just shooting your way through a linear path, missions often give you access to a large area to explore, and multiple objectives. Enemies seem to respawn zonally, and checkpoints also save your location zonally, which allows you to either take your time and search every nook and cranny (at the expense of having to fight more enemies), or just completing the objectives and getting the flock out of there. Once you’ve completed a mission you can teleport back to base (yes, teleport!) and turn in your missions, as well as buy stuff from shops. You can have multiple missions on the go at the same time, all of which can be accessed on a beautiful map. Plus, you can even ‘free roam’ missions you’ve previously completed, which is good if you want to go hunting for secrets or just grind more stuff. The structure of the game is very well thought-out though, and is quite original, possibly even innovative.

Weapons-wise: wow! Shadow Warrior 2 is just nuts. Nuts as in: crazy. Not only are all the weapons phenomenally modelled, lit and animated, but they mostly feel amazing to use too. They can all be enhanced, via three upgrade slots, into which you place your chosen upgrades. Some upgrades enhance firing rates; others allow you to duel-wield certain weapons; others might even penalise you slightly, as well as enhancing your capabilities. You acquire more weapons than you can equip, so must choose eight to go in your weapons slots. You do have access to all the weapons you’ve acquired through your inventory, though. Some weapons are more interesting to use than others. Depending on your taste you’ll find yourself ditching certain weapons as you progress, and turning to others as your favourites. My particular favourite is the chainsaw, although the various swords can be very effective. The basic shotgun (The Hauer) has a nice feel too. And the dual Uzis… And the dual Magnum Desert Eagles… As I said: the weapons are just crazy fun! Some even have ‘exotic’ features that only work under certain conditions. Discovering all that the weapons have to offer will take a while.

The humour in Shadow Warrior 2 is another strong feature of the game. The dialogue is chock full of wise cracks, silly proverbs, and politically-incorrect (and very funny) jokes. There are loads of eye-opening visual gags too. Not to mention plenty of gore. Shadow Warrior 2 really is a treat to giggle and hack and slash and blast your way through, although it is very much an ‘adults only’ game with quite a bit of swearing, and cannabis plants (in pots) littered about a few secret areas. Ha.

Shadow Warrior 2 is so over-the-top you could call it a satire. The developers have done a wonderful job of creating a highly-detailed and varied world, with incredible graphics and atmospherics, and lots of nice touches, like the weather changes at your base camp. The movement mechanics are fast, beautifully-balanced and interesting, like – for example – the cool double jump that Lo Wang can do, and the no fall damage. Plus: the athletic climbing and jumping he does around the landscape – like a veritable Spider-man. Plus, special attack moves that you can unlock as you go. You can even collect upgrades in the single-player game that help you in online multiplayer… I haven’t even mentioned multiplayer… As you can imagine: it’s absolute mayhem.

There are so many great touches in Shadow Warrior 2 that it’s impossible to list them all here. Like the way Lo Wang reloads the shotgun (he throws the shells into the air and they land in the chamber). Or the funny fortune cookies. Or the ‘Blade Runner’ gun (or other tributes). Or the amazing ‘Photo Mode’. Or the ‘internal voices’. Or ‘The Bird’… The list is endless.

I’d go as far as to say that Shadow Warrior 2 is probably worth full price. I was lucky and got the game for free in the recent GOG.com 10th anniversary give-away, but if you weren’t so lucky then you should at least buy it in the next sale, especially if you like first-person shooters.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_Warrior_2
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/324800/Shadow_Warrior_2/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/shadow_warrior_2

Doom II, PC

Doom II: Hell On Earth (to give the game its full title) was released in 1994 and is the sequel to the infamous id Software blaster, Doom.

It uses the same engine as Doom (id Tech 1), but has more variety and is optimised to be more detailed and quicker.

The stand-out feature in Doom II has to be the inclusion of the double-barrelled shotgun – a weighty weapon that makes the standard shotgun feel like a toothpick. Giving monsters “both barrels” is highly satisfying. The new shotgun demonstrates the fact that really well thought-out and executed weapons can take a game like Doom to the next level.

Doom II is bigger, better and harder than Doom one. Not to mention more complex – the level designs are dark, clever, intricate and full of secrets. Some of the situations are truly scary – the game’s designers have set many traps with which to test the player. There are some great moments of tension too as you enter a room with the light on; pick something up; then the light goes off and you hear the growls of monsters… Cue gunfire.

Doom II is still incredible fun to play even now, even though the graphics are a bit dated and the engine doesn’t ‘do’ proper perspective. Ultimately: Doom and Doom II are a mixture of 3D graphics (the environments) and 2D graphics (the monsters, and everything else), and the engine is kinda ‘faking it’. Quake was the first id Software game to make everything truly 3D, and also simulate proper perspective and camera Field-Of-View.

See also: Doom and Brutal Doom

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doom_II
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2300/DOOM_II/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/doom_ii_final_doom

Doom, PC

id Software‘s hit shooter, Doom, blew the roof off the gaming world when it was first released in 1993.

It was the first First-Person Shooter that moved really fast and smoothly, and gave you a real sense of ‘being there’ when you played it.

Doom used a controversial mix of monsters, science fiction and satanic imagery to create an atmosphere unlike any other (at least until Quake appeared). It was also pioneering in its use of sound effects.

I remember very well Doom‘s initial (shareware) release and the ripple of excitement it caused in the gaming world. I was one of the first people to review it in 1993, for Maverick Magazines’ PC Player magazine, and revelled in its unbridled joy. Nowadays: Doom is legendary. You can still buy it, and people still play it. Doom II might have the better shotgun, but Doom one was where it all started.

See also: Brutal Doom and Doom II

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doom_(1993_video_game)
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2280/Ultimate_Doom/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/the_ultimate_doom

Doom review PC Player

Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Super Nintendo

This brilliant single and multi-player overhead shooter by LucasArts is a parody of every single horror and sci-fi film you’ve ever seen.

Chainsaws, zombies, UFOs, mummies, werewolves, demonic babies, spiders, shopping malls – you name it, the game will throw it at you during at least one of its 48 stages.

Two players can play Zombies Ate My Neighbors cooperatively, which is great fun. The aim being: to run around destroying monsters, and rescuing any human survivors you find along the way. Nice little touches, like the trampolines that bounce you over walls, and the potions that turn you into a monster, add variety to what is a fairly straightforward blaster.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a great party game too. A retro-gaming classic from 1993. Also came out on the Megadrive/Genesis, but the SNES version just edges it in terms of colourfulness.

Note: because we often have a set of retards running the world, and have a particularly vicious press when it comes to horror films and video games, the game was released simply as “Zombies” in Europe and Australia. A watered-down bastardisation of a title if ever there was one… The censors are always wrong, but in the case of this game they took a great title and turned it into kitty litter… Still a wonderful game though.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombies_Ate_My_Neighbors

Resident Evil 4, PC

The high-def Windows version of Resident Evil 4 looks a bit sharper than the GameCube original, but is essentially still the same great game.

The updated version (shown here) is the 2014 re-release called Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition.

Resident Evil 4 is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time, and for good reason. If you’ve never played it, you have never lived.

It’s on Steam. Wait for that sale. Then go get it.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_Evil_4
Steam: 254700/resident_evil_4__biohazard_4