Robin Beanland – Conker’s Bad Fur Day

3 out of 5

Label: iam8bit

Produced by: iam8bit (vinyl production)

I wasn’t one of the “lucky” ones to be surprised and entertained by the standout crassness of Conker’s platformer on the otherwise generally family-friendly selection of N64 games.  I dig anthropomorphism and these style of games in general, I just never owned the system, and so missed the window.  Retrospective reviews have taught me the legacy, and releases of Grant Kirkhope’s Rare games’ scores on the iam8bit label gave me a taste for the potential of such things, so I was interested to hear what Conker’s Bad Fur Day sounded like on vinyl.

The A- and B-sides are downright delightful, and indulgent of the game’s notable tone.  While composer Robin Beanland pulls from the “zany” bucket of boppy songs – that is, when you look at a squirrel-led platform-hoppin’ game, this is the kind of music you expect – but he delivers it with all due zeal, and adds a plethora of, eh, nutty effects into the mix to give it a further dose of personality.  So while the general style may not surprise, the energy put into it makes it infectious.  And I’m not one to giggle at poop humor, but a track almost fully orchestrated by farts works because, like, it’s actually fully orchestrated.  That’s the kind of effort we’re talking about.  Some narration clips from “Conker” (Chris Seavor) round out the package.

And then… the C- and D-sides.  Having not played the game, I can only suppose things take a ‘darker’ turn in its latter half, but I would still expect the score to have some kind of pep to it.  While Beanland’s work on this part of the soundtrack still has plenty of interesting effects, it’s much more of a backgrounded score; more ambient than anything else.  It’s a strange turn, and it definitely takes out a good chunk of the personality, on up through the end of the game.  It very literally feels like two separate scores.

As usual, iam8bit would seem to have dodgy consistency with their recordings, but my copy of this is quite crisp, with bright – if fairly unremarkable – packaging.  Usual caveats apply for those coming into this with Conker-virgin ears like mine: nostalgia may enliven the experience a bit, but as a standalone experience, a great first LP is balanced out by a very midrange second LP.