Ever since computers were invented, people have been creating lewd games to put on them. Cheap, dirty jokes and carefree sexual situations are just two aspects of the mature videogame market. With the advances in graphics that many of today's systems have, some games can be downright pornographic. However, a proud few games wear the parent-shocking, teenager-enticing label of Mature 17+ with dignity. These are their stories.
Most people think of the squirrel as a cuddly, cute and congenial forest animal. The people from Rare (Donkey Kong N64, Perfect Dark, Goldeneye N64) see squirrels as the bastards they really are. The bad squirrels of my college campus -- the ones that drank from pools of beer and occasionally ran around with cigarettes in their mouths -- come to the screen in Conker. Our hero and the game's namesake wakes up with a hangover and starts the game off trying to find home. He's a foul-mouthed little wanker who'd have Chip 'n' Dale running for the hills with his constant stream of invective.
The one nice thing about Conker is he's absolutely hilarious. Combining the perversions of the BBC's Benny Hill with the acerbic wit of a British stand-up, the people who put together Conker really busted the bank to find sick jokes with great laughs. The humor extends to the missions as well, and you'll most likely find yourself having to pee on things or roll giant balls of dung up hills in order to pass the level.
Originally an N64 game, Conker's update has two things: live play and awesome fur. Using the sweet graphics abilities that come from an XBox, creators were able to update imagery so the fur is as fluffy and realistic as possible on any system out there. While this may be a draw to the furries, the real aim in remaking Conker was to add the live multi-player. This is a lot of hype without real payback. The creators should have spent more time on control options, setting up a more user-friendly multi-play format. The number of people involved in multi-play also needs to be cut down. Small situations are swarmed with players, often making the game feel more like a rodent Vietnam than the Rainbow Six format it plays at using. Despite the additions, there aren't really any new jokes or story lines that the N64 version didn't have. What new additions there are seem slightly out-of-place, as if the people putting together the new material weren't fully married to the spirit of the game.
Conker's tunes spring from Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc. which had producer Nile Rodgers culling the talents of famed videogame scorer Robin Beanland, electronica act Rabbit in the Moon and Dweezil Zappa. Beanland, who was hailed for his work on the original Conker, Killer Instinct and Jet Force Gemini, tosses all sorts of styles at players from mock-ups of Disney tunes to slamming guitar. Rabbit in the Moon delivers a wild rendition of "Rock Solid" and Dweezil does his thing with several tracks ripped just for the game. The music is novel and fun, but it only complements Conker's running stream of vulgarities. The insidious and addictive humor of the squirrel chatter doesn't leave much room for listening to tunes.
Larry has been around for ages. In fact, I remember hacking my older sister's computer (which was easy in the early 90s) to play one of the earlier versions. That one included a lot of hitting on women and getting drunk. I didn't get it then, but I do now.
This version finds original geek Larry Laffner's nerdy nephew on a wild college ride. In a mash-up of American Pie, Animal House and Road Trip, this Larry bumbles his way about college in pursuit of beauty and booty. The goal, like most of the preceding games, is to find true love. This time it's in the form of a reality dating show. Larry tends to find slaps, insults and a lot of naked women instead. In fact, bedding women is the only way he can get on the show, and Cum Laude brings the casting couch back in a more feminist manner.
The amount of sex and debauchery in this game can even be bolstered by a code which allows the censor patch to be removed. This means those black bars that pervade nudie shots go away and you have some of the best graphics in the industry focused solely on three key spots of the body.
As for the soundtrack, it's about the same as college night at BAR Charlotte. Everything from "I'm Too Sexy" to "Girls, Girls, Girls" blares away, promoting the monotonous party demands that undergrad years are all about. I reminisced to the music of frat parties past, then remembered why I never attended another one after freshman year. Dated and one-note, this soundtrack isn't the kind of thing you want to hear on repeat.
If Magna Cum Laude seems a bit over-the-top, it is. Larry has never been a very decent guy, but his nephew drags the barrel with his not-so-funny one-liners and aimless wanderings. While past games gave creators at Vivendi a pretty big name to live up to, this game stinks of repetition and exploitation. I'm not saying Larry has to be a prince; just toss some above-the-belt humor in there, and give the brain something to do as you pass the hours on Larry's wild rides.