Conker's Bad Fur Day
|Conker's Bad Fur Day|
North American box art
Conker's Bad Fur Day is an action-platform video game developed and published by Rare for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was Rare's last game for the console, released on 5 March 2001 in North America, and on 6 April 2001 in Europe. The game stars Conker the Squirrel, a greedy, heavy-drinking red squirrel who is attempting to return home to his girlfriend. The gameplay is composed of various challenges like solving puzzles or racing vehicles, split across multiple levels. The game also includes a multiplayer mode where up to four players can compete in seven different game types.
Conker's Bad Fur Day was in development for four years and was originally intended for a family audience, but was redesigned and marketed to a much older demographic. It features graphic violence, sexual themes, strong language, toilet humour, and several film parodies. The game received very positive reviews from video game publications, which praised the game's graphics, audio, and presentation. The game sold poorly due to limited advertising and a release towards the end of the Nintendo 64's life cycle, but earned a cult following due to its unique styling. A remake, titled Conker: Live & Reloaded, with enhanced graphics and a different multiplayer mode, was released for the Xbox in 2005.
The game follows the story of Conker the Squirrel, an alcoholic red squirrel, who is attempting to return home to his girlfriend Berri after a night of binge drinking with his friends. Meanwhile, the Panther King, ruler of the land that Conker is lost in, finds that his throne's side table is missing one of its legs and orders his quadriplegic weasel servant, Professor Von Kriplespac, to solve the problem. Kriplespac suggests the use of a red squirrel as the fourth leg for his table, and therefore the Panther King sends his minions to search for one and capture it. As Conker searches for his way home, he finds himself embroiled in a series of increasingly absurd and often dangerous situations, including having to recover a bee hive from some enormous wasps, confronting a giant opera-singing pile of feces, being turned into a bat by a vampire, and even getting drafted into a war between grey squirrels and a Nazi-like group of teddy bears known as the "Tediz," which Conker ultimately destroys.
During his quest to return home, Conker finds wads of cash scattered throughout the land, and becomes sidetracked from his goal. In the final chapter of the game, Berri and Conker are enlisted by Don Weaso, head of the Weasel Mafia, to rob a bank. When they enter the vault, they find that the bank scene was an elaborate trap set by the King and Don Weaso to capture Conker. In the ensuing confrontation, Berri is killed by Weaso, and a Xenomorph suddenly bursts out of the Panther King's chest, killing him instantly. Von Kriplespac appears and reveals that the alien is one of his creations, and that he had planned to use this opportunity to kill the king and escape. Afterwards, Kriplespac activates his spaceship and enters low orbit; from there, he instructs the alien to attack and kill Conker as revenge for destroying the Tediz, which were also his creations. Conker pulls a switch that opens an air lock, pulling Von Kriplespac and Berri's corpse into space. After a brief battle, the alien lunges at Conker, when suddenly the entire game freezes. Conker expresses disbelief that Rare apparently did not beta test the game properly, and breaks the fourth wall to ask some software engineers to assist him in his current situation. The programmers give Conker a Katana and teleport him to the Panther King's throne room, where he decapitates the alien. As a result, he is crowned the new king of the land.
Conker then comes to the grim realisation that Berri is still dead. He attempts to ask the programmers to bring her back to life, but realises that they have already left. Conker then gives a closing monologue, in which he discusses appreciating what one already has instead of always wanting more, stating that "the grass is always greener, and you don't really know what it is you have until it's gone." The credits roll, and afterwards Conker is seen back at the same pub he was seen in at the start of the game, drowning his sorrows in Scotch whisky. He drunkenly exits the bar as it begins to storm outside, and leaves in the direction opposite the one he took previously.
Conker's Bad Fur Day is an action-platform game where the player controls Conker the Squirrel through a series of three-dimensional levels. The game features an overworld where players can transition from one level to another, although many are initially blocked off until Conker earns a certain amount of cash. Each level is an enclosed area in which the player can freely explore to find tasks to do. The gameplay mostly relies on figuring out a way to help other characters by completing a linear sequence of challenges. These challenges may include defeating a boss, solving puzzles, gathering objects, and racing opponents, among others. The result is always a cash reward, which aids access to other areas in the overworld.
Conker's abilities are far simpler than those of previous Rare platformers, such as Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64. The player can run, jump, and smack enemies with a frying pan. Conker also has a few other physical abilities. He can swim underwater for a while until he runs out of breath, climb ladders or ropes, and is strong enough to push heavy objects. To regain lost health, Conker can eat pieces of "anti-gravity" Chocolate that are scattered throughout the levels. Additionally, the game employs "context sensitive" pads that allow Conker to gain different, temporary abilities when pressing the "B" button atop them. For instance, in the beginning of the game, by pressing the B button on the first pad he encounters, Conker drinks some Alka-Seltzer to wipe out his hangover, at which point players can proceed forward. Some pads can turn Conker into an anvil to slam into the ground, and some are also used to pull out his shotgun, to activate his throwing knives, slingshot and so on. They also serve to inform players of what needs to be done next.
The game also includes a multiplayer mode, where up to four players can compete against each other in seven different minigames with their own custom rules: Beach, Raptor, Heist, War, Tank, Race and Deathmatch. In Beach, some players must go up through a beach and into a waiting escape vehicle, while others must stop them by firing at them from fixed positions. Raptor involves players controlling raptors to feed a baby dinosaur, while others play as cavemen that have to steal dinosaur eggs. Heist engrosses players in the robbery of a bank, where the goal is to retrieve a cash bag from the center of the level and run with it to the team's vault without being damaged. War can either be a traditional capture the flag mode or Total War, where players have to get the other teams gas canister and use it to release a chemical gas that annihilates the enemy. Similarly, in Tank players fight against each other by using tanks and grabbing chemical canisters that can release a lethal corrosive gas, destroying all the tanks that are outdoors. Race is a racing mode which provides two variations of the same course. Items can be acquired and used against opponents. Finally, there is a standard deathmatch mode where players fight against each other in shooting style from a third-person perspective. Players can set a number of different options for each game, such as score limit, number of lives, and inclusion of optional bots.
Development and marketing
Development of the game was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June 1997. The game was originally going to be titled Conker's Quest, and later Twelve Tales: Conker 64. Players would control Conker in action-based settings or Berri in more strategy-based settings, with the possibility of two player split-screen gameplay. Early screenshots suggested the game would be targeted at a family and young audience and feature cute characters and colourful settings. Rare had a history of making games of this sort, such as Banjo-Kazooie and Diddy Kong Racing, and at first Conker appeared to be similar. However, Rare started to fear that the game would not be differentiated enough from other games, and critical mockery of "yet another cute platformer" caused the game design to be overhauled. Several delays, along with almost a year without mention of the game, led to speculation that the game was privately cancelled. Rare later clarified that the game was "still being worked on by a full team and with the same level of dedication as when it was first announced."
In early 2000, Rare revealed that Conker was retooled into a controversial game with lots of scatological humour. Inspired by South Park, game producer Chris Seavor revamped the graphics and attitude, and the title was changed to Conker's Bad Fur Day. Seavor himself voiced Conker in this new version, along with all the male characters in the game except the Great Mighty Poo, who was voiced by Chris Marlow. Louise Ridgeway voiced the female characters, including Mrs. Queen Bee and the Sunflower. Rare changed several aspects in the game to attract an adult audience. Unlike Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, item collecting was mostly discarded and moves were simplified with "context sensitive" buttons. The game also differs from other Nintendo 64 games by relying heavily on cutscenes and featuring a large number of film parodies. Some offensive content was censored under the supervision of Nintendo, including cutscenes with Pokémon and a joke at the expense of the Ku Klux Klan. Seavor, however, remarked that "pretty much 99.9% of the game remained." Due to its extensive vocal track, Conker's Bad Fur Day is one of the few Nintendo 64 games that features a 64MB cartridge.
Conker's Bad Fur Day was first released by Rare on 5 March 2001 in North America. Advertisements for the game were featured in magazines such as Playboy, and video commercials were geared towards a mature audience. As Nintendo was known for its family-friendly games like Mario and Pokémon, the game was the subject of controversy. Nintendo of America declined to acknowledge the game in its Nintendo Power magazine. Similarly, KB Toys, which specialised in toys and video games for children, also declined to sell the game. In Europe, the game was published and distributed by THQ on 6 April 2001, after Nintendo of Europe declined to publish it.
Conker's Bad Fur Day received very positive reviews from video game critics. On Metacritic, the game has an average score of 92 out of 100, which is considered "universal acclaim". Many publications and websites declared the graphics were the best on the Nintendo 64. Critics noted that the game featured a number of technical effects that were uncommon at the time, especially for a Nintendo 64 game, such as dynamic shadowing, coloured lighting, large areas with a long draw distance, no distance fog, detailed facial animations, lip syncing, and individually rendered fingers on some characters. Shane Satterfield of GameSpot went so far as to say that the game "makes other Nintendo 64 games look like 16-bit software." IGN's Matt Casamassina praised the detailed 3D worlds, "fantastic" texture work, and cute character designs. He remarked that "Conker himself is equipped with an in-game facial animation system that realistically portrays his different moods as he travels the lands. When he's scared, he looks it, and when he's pissed off players will actually be able to see his teeth showing in a frown." Reviewers noted occasional drops in the frame rate, but most agreed it did not interfere with the gameplay.
Critics also gave high marks for the game's audio and diverse vocal track, which easily outnumbered that of other voiced Nintendo 64 games such as Perfect Dark or Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. The voice acting was praised highly for its different accents and styles, with "cleverly lewd" scripts and "dead-on" movie spoofs. Similar to Rare's earlier game Banjo-Kazooie, the soundtrack was credited for its different arrangements of specific songs that gradually change as players move from one area to the next, and for its rich and creative instrumentation. Reviewers also highlighted the number of sound effects. Satterfield observed that "there are literally dozens of sounds just for Conker's footsteps".
The gameplay was highlighted for its variety and unconventional context-sensitive systems. Matt Casamassina credited Rare for reducing the number of items to collect and simplifying the moves with context-sensitive pads, as they "help keep the action shifting, refreshing, and always exciting." By contrast, Game Revolution's Johnny Liu criticised its simplistic action, short length and linear nature. GameSpot pointed out that the game's linearity "cuts its length considerably". A criticism mentioned in numerous reviews was the "defective" camera, which "sometimes gets caught on objects or refuses to obey commands". The multiplayer was described as inventive and was praised for its numerous options. Shane Satterfield, however, remarked: "While the extra [multiplayer] modes do add some longevity to [Conker's Bad Fur Day], the majority of them fail to stand the test of time." Most reviewers agreed the jokes were clever and funny. According to Casamassina, "Is it over the top? Yes. Is it lowbrow? Yes. And yet, it's also very well delivered and smart too -- and it's funny. Really, honestly, funny". Game Revolution noted that the game "has its crosshairs directly aimed at the college audience" and that "it works perfectly for the peeps who've grown up with Mario and are now looking for someone less dorky".
Conker's Bad Fur Day was awarded the 2001 BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Award for sound, IGN's Game of the Month for March 2001, and GameSpot's Best Platform Game for 2001. In 2009, Official Nintendo Magazine placed Conker's Bad Fur Day at #97 on their list of 100 Greatest Nintendo Games Ever, and GameTrailers rated it #1 on their list of Top Ten Funniest Games. In 2010, UGO included the game at #3 on their list of The 11 Weirdest Game Endings. Although the game fared well with critics in both the UK and US, it sold worse than expected (only about 55,000 copies as of April 2001), partly due to its prohibitively high cost, advertisements exclusive to the older audience, and release towards the end of the Nintendo 64's life cycle. Despite these factors, the game has enjoyed a cult following due to its unique styling.
After the release of Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rare began development of a new Conker game referred to as Conker's Other Bad Day, though it was ultimately cancelled. Designer Chris Seavor said that it was to be a direct sequel dealing with "Conker's somewhat unsuccessful tenure as King. He spends all the treasured money on beer, parties and hookers. Thrown into prison, Conker is faced with the prospect of execution and the game starts with his escape, ball and chain attached, from the Castle's highest tower." When Rare was purchased by Microsoft in 2002, Rare instead developed Conker: Live & Reloaded, a remake of Bad Fur Day which was released for the Xbox console in 2005. The most substantial changes over the original include updated graphics and a brand new multiplayer mode that could be played through Xbox Live, which features different character classes and game missions. Several adjustments were also made in the single-player mode: many minor obscenities within the voice dialogue that were present in the Nintendo 64 game were censored at Microsoft's behest, the camera control was refined and improved with a zoom function, and an auto-targeting system was added to the game. The game received generally favourable reviews from critics.
- Shane Satterfield (1 March 2001). "Conker's Bad Fur Day review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Windy Part 1. "Panther King: Ah. Professor. I have a job for you. As you can see, the table... / Von Kriplespac: Ze table! Ah yes. So, you have spilt ze milk again? That's not gut. Not gut! Let me have a look at it for you. Yes. I... I think I see the problem. I vill see vat I can do. You must give me a moment, though. I vill come back later."
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Windy Part 1. "Panther King: Hmm. Yes. Squirrel. I've heard of them. Yes. So? / Von Kriplespac: So it is simple, my liege. Ve need a squirrel, and ve put him here. You no spill your milk, ve don't get duct tape. / Panther King: Hmm... Gentlemen. / Guards: Yes, my liege? / Guards: Yes, my liege? / Panther King: Get me one of these red squirrels."
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Heist. "Von Kriplespac: Since this squirrel got rid of my Tediz, bastard, I zink ze latest addition to my plans is about to take shape. The incubation period is just about complete! Not a moment too soon! Yes, my liege, let us kill two birds vit one stone!"
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Heist. "Don Weaso: Okay, since your little escapades with those cavemen kinda put me outta business, now I need to replenish my funds. Here we have it, the Feral Reserve Bank! / Conker: Okay, but I'll do it on one condition only. / Don Weaso: What? / Conker: That I get an outfit that's as cool as hers! / Don Weaso: Deal!"
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Heist. "Panther King: Hmmm, yes, at last... a red squirrel... ...good! / Conker: A red squirrel! Oh, I think he means me. I don’t recognise this guy! Unless, he’s the fabled Panther King! But he lives just in stories, like my mum used to tell me to get me to sleep! Looks like he was real after all. The fairy Panther King! / Panther King: Who are you calling a fairy? / Conker: No, as in, like, fairy, as in ephemeral... like a fable, like a legend, you know, that doesn’t exi... doesn’t matter. / Panther King: Oh, no, doesn’t matter, not anymore, not for you. Weasel! / Don Weaso: Right here, boss. / Panther King: Your bounty."
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Heist. "Von Kriplespac: Ah! Come here! Ah! Such a beautiful animal! Even though he is about to... annihilate you, squirrel! Rip you limb from limb! You cannot help but admire... zis... beauty! His... power! His... poise! He is not a vonderful creature... is he?"
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Heist. "Conker: Hello? What's going on? Is this a joke? The game's locked up! Ha! I don't believe it! What! Is it the testing department's day off or somethin'? Hmmm... this gives me an idea. Um! Hello... Eh! If there are any software engineers that can hear me? Just eh. Type something in."
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Heist. "Conker: What? But I, no, you don't understand. I don't really wanna be king. Oh no, I forgot to, I should have brought Berri back to life. Oh no! Hello, programmer. Ah, they're gone."
- Rare Ltd. "Conker's Bad Fur Day". Level/area: Ending. "Conker: So there I am. King. King of all the land. And who'd have thought that? Not me. I guess you know who these guys are now. I certainly do. I don't want to know them. And, yep, I may be king and have all the money in the world, and all the land, and all that stuff, but, you know, I don't really think I want it. I just wanna go home, with Berri, and... I don't know... have a bottle of beer. Hmm. It's not gonna happen. It's true what they say. The grass is always greener, and you don't really know what it is you have until it's gone. Gone. Gone."
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