You might have heard of this amazing gem titled, Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It was released during the dying years of the Nintendo 64 on March 5th, 2001. And let me tell you, not many people bought it or played it. Everyone was too busy with the looming possibilities of next gen to care about this game. “Conker’s bad wah? I got my Dreamcast and waiting for the Playstation 2!” It also launched with quite a hefty price tag($70-80). At the time people we’re use to only paying about $40-50 for their games.
Also the cartoonish art style did nothing but confuse some people as they poorly advertised it to adults. “Uh, is this like a kids games or for adults?” Apparently people had trouble grasping a South Park vibe at the time. Moral of the story? The game was a massive flop but was one of the most critically acclaimed games at that time. This game to this day is still a true masterpiece and shows in retrospect that it was truly ahead of its time. Why is it such a masterpiece? Well, I’m here to tell you why, so strap in your butts. I’m gonna start from the beginning with my own personal story….
(Dream Cloud forms)
Well, I must have been about 10 years old browsing through Blockbuster where I would always stalk the video game section while my Mom was browsing the videos. I would always notice when they put up a new game. Back in the day I had no idea when or what new games were coming out so I just prowled every time I went searching for new box art. Walking down the aisle a game called to me. The box art intrigued me. I saw an awesome, fuzzy looking red squirrel holding a beer mug and a scantily clad grey female squirrel both leaned up against opposing sides of giant letters spelling: Conker’s Bad Fur Day. I instantly looked at the squirrel and remembered seeing a promo video of a similar looking main character in Gladiator attire from a Toys R’ Us Banjo Kazooie video. “Finally!” I thought, I never thought this game would ever come out. But it looked a bit different. I noticed in letters at the bottom “Advisory: This game is not for anyone under the age of 17.”
I couldn’t believe what I had read, “But this is by the people who made Banjo Kazooie!”. But looking at the back of the box and reading the rating content I was shocked. “Strong Language, Alcohol, Nudity, Blood and Gore.” Then I looked up at the back box art and everything was damn colorful and cute. I thought it was a joke. “There is no way this game is rated M. How? Why?” I thought in denial. It wasn’t until a few years later I found out the original vision was scrapped and the creators decided to take the game from a kiddy direction to a mature direction.
Regardless I was weary and cautious of renting the game. I was afraid the store clerk would say something to my Mom at the checkout forbidding me to play this game. My heart raced as I picked it up and put it back on the shelf. Will I get caught? Will I be able to rent this? I was in mental turmoil. Every possibility running through my head ended up with me being disappointed and embarrassed. I eventually decided to put it back on the shelf…
A few weeks later my Mom and I head to the local self owned video store for convenience (We liked to switch it up from time to time). It was a favorite spot but they rarely updated their game collection. Every time I went I either rented a game I played before or didn’t rent anything at all. But I saw it. Of all the new games they could have got, they had this one. It was destiny. To me it was like the ultimate forbidden fruit. The more I read “Not for anyone under the age of 17” the more I craved this game. Looking at it this time, I couldn’t take it. I decided to take a chance!
But I had to make sure it wasn’t the usual store clerk. He always remembered my Mom and I and would always talk to me about the games I rented. Cool guy but he would blow up my spot in no time. I peaked over and noticed it was a new guy. My palms began to sweat with excitement This game would be mine but my fears from blockbuster were still attacking my subconscious but I still decided to take that chance! It was time to go and I plopped the game on the counter with the back box art facing up where it all just colorful artwork and no warning label. The man rung us up with ease and didn’t say a single word but “Have a nice night.” I was floored. “I never thought it would be so easy!” I thought as I clenched my fist in victory.
Finally it was time to play it. Excited with what I may have gotten myself into, I plopped the game in my N64 and turned on the system. I was treated to a disturbing opening of it’s main character, Conker, revving a chainsaw and brutally slicing an innocent, screaming Nintendo 64 logo in half. No doubt foreshadowing the strained relationship between Nintendo and Rareware that was soon to come. Several minutes into the game I was already in love. It opened up with a lengthy cutscene, full voice overs, flawless graphics, superb animation and adult humor. It felt unreal.
The game felt like a twisted cartoon come to life before my eyes. It was filled with these hilarious lengthy cutscenes that helped bridge the story to the gameplay and it was brilliant. At the time, games like this were rare (no pun intended). The lip syncing was flawless and the characters were so expressive. It felt like I was playing a movie. The graphics, sound, animations and cutscenes were eons ahead of anything else the N64 had ever put out.
This game was doing things many games were not doing until almost post PS2 era. The amount of animations in this game are unbelievable. Everyone thought it was so cool when they saw in games like Uncharted (PS3) when it’s main character Drake would constantly react to his environment You jump in water, your clothes look wet. You walk by fire, and he shields his face. Enemies show up, you start to run faster and so on. Brilliant? Yes. But Conker’s Bad Fur Day was doing all of that awesomeness on N64 already.
When you got Conker wet he walks with his clothes literally dripping wet and walks funny for a couple of seconds until he dries. When you’re an chasing a enemy you have to catch, Conker shouts at them and holds out his arms with a mean face. When an enemy is chasing you and gets close, Conker banks his head back and runs faster in a funny motion. At one point in the game the Conker’s leg is sprained and he actually limps around the stage. When I first saw that as I kid I could not believe the attention to detail. Conker reacted to his environment everywhere he went and he was always doing something new and funny. Every single animation was finely tuned. Just play the game and place the controller on the floor, you will simply have a blast seeing his standing animations. It ranges anywhere from him drinking a beer, reading a porn mag, taking a hit of his bong and so much more. It’s hilarious.
The gameplay is where this game truly shines. They just don’t make games like this anymore. This game is an action platformer but man, did this game have so much variety. At the core you’re Conker running around on these vast open stages where you run, jump and whack enemies with your trusty frying pan, helping the fellow locals of each area. But there’s more to it, there was never a moment in this game you weren’t experiencing something new even til the last few seconds of this game. Every chapter a new but simple gameplay element is introduced. But bam in the next chapter it would be like it never existed prior. But that’s the beauty of this game, almost every moment is a unique experience to one another. This is back when games introduced some unique game play aspect for only certain levels to only have it playable only for that specified part of the game. It made these moments all the more special. This proves that less is more.
At one point in the game you’re stealing back a beehive from a group of psychopathic, gangster hornets to return it back to it’s owner; a depressed, fat queen bee who has been crying non-stop because her husband left her for another woman. Another part you’re riding a tiny, vicious baby T-rex in a prehistoric setting brutally gobbling up little cavemen. You fight through a war that parodies Saving Private Ryan, you transform into a bat in a stage that’s parodying Coppola’s Dracula, in another you’re dressed as Van Helsing and shooting zombies. Let us not forget an epic boss battle with a giant opera singing poo monster called “The Great Mighty Poo.” Truly one of the most unique moments in gaming. I could go on, that’s only the tip of the iceberg of weird places this game goes. Every moment of this game in the true sense of the word was an adventure. You never knew what would be next.
The games humor and levels are based around film parodies or something original. During this era and even now games are trying to be more serious, mature and story based. This game didn’t give a crap about any of that, it only cared about having a good time and made sure you were too. Rated Mature? More like rated Immature. And I mean that in the best way possible.
And how the hell did it’s cute fuzzy main character get into such a mess? All because he was getting drunk at pub with some friends and on his way home he took a wrong turn. The game’s story is essentially Conker just wanting to get home to cozy up against his lovely girlfriend, Berry but he has to find his way back home first. But man does this little guy get into some shit!
But believe it or not though, through all the wackiness, violence, and toilet humor the game actually leads up to quite a depressing and sad ending. It’s certainly not what anyone was expecting and it stays with you long after beating the game. The game has a moral and shows that sometimes when you’re caught up in the moment you lose sight of what’s really important. Also that gaining power comes at the cost of those you love. By the game’s end Conker is just a lonely squirrel filled with nothing but regret. A theme as an adult I could relate to more than ever.
But I will never regret taking a chance and renting this game. The game was too expensive for me to buy as a kid and I was way too paranoid to ask my Mom to buy it for me so I always went back and rented it. The regular store clerk did actually give me shit one time for renting the game but in a joking manner. This game actually changed my life and brought me to a whole new love for gaming.
The game was original and they just don’t make games like these anymore. Rarely do games try to have a sense of humor or try new things. This game still holds up to this day and must be played by any gamer who truly loves games. If you consider yourself a gamer who plays games on all consoles with no stupid fanboy allegiance you are doing yourself a disservice not playing this game. This is back when games didn’t need patches just to get it to work! This game is bug free and honestly doesn’t have much problems. Sure the camera can be wonky at times. Yeah, the humor is a bit outdated but you’ll still get a chuckle here or there.
I also say skip the xbox original. It’s good but doesn’t have the same awesome multiplayer, the facial animations aren’t as good, it highly censored (Wtf?) and there were a few other slight changes I didn’t approve of. Conker doesn’t need damn pants! Whether you experienced the N64 game when it came out or not, playing it now, your jaw will still drop seeing how the hell these geniuses at Rareware (RIP Nintendo Rareware) were able to push the N64 to the absolute limits. I play this game every year or so and I can’t help but always have a smile on my face playing this great game.
P.s. This game was originally under development as Conker’s Quest then later changed to Twelve Tails: Conker 64 before it eventually became Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It’s was a platformer that was actually designed for kids and had Rareware’s staple of being a collectathon. The game received harsh criticism at E3 as being another “kiddie rare game”. Rareware took offense to that and trolled everyone turning it one of the most twisted games ever made. I always wonder how different my life would be if this was the game that originally came out but I’m glad I got what we got. Seeing gameplay footage it looked nowhere as good as what we did get. However I do love Conker’s Bad Fur Day but man would I kill to play this scrapped version. Check out this footage if you haven’t already!