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Conker's Bad Fur Day

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Conker's Bad Fur Day
Conkersbfdbox.jpg
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Chris Seavor
Designer(s) Chris Seavor
Artist(s) Don Murphy
Writer(s) Robin Beanland
Chris Seavor
Composer(s) Robin Beanland
Series Conker
Platform(s) Nintendo 64
Release
  • NA: 5 March 2001
  • EU: 6 April 2001
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Conker's Bad Fur Day is a platformer video game developed by Rare and released for the Nintendo 64 console in 2001. As part of the Conker series, the game follows the story of Conker the Squirrel; a greedy, heavy-drinking red squirrel who attempts to return home to his girlfriend. It features a single-player mode where the player must complete challenges that involve jumping over obstacles, solving puzzles, and fighting enemies, and a competitive multiplayer mode that supports up to four players.

Although Conker's Bad Fur Day is visually similar to Rare's previous Nintendo 64 games Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, it was designed for mature audiences and features graphic violence, alcohol and tobacco use, profanity, vulgar humor, and pop culture references. The game was developed over four years and was originally intended for a family audience; it was retooled into its current form because previews were criticised for being both too cute and similar to Rare's earlier platform games.

Upon release, Conker's Bad Fur Day received critical acclaim from video game journalists, who praised its visual appeal and smart, funny humour. The game sold well below expectations due to limited advertising and a release towards the end of the Nintendo 64's life cycle, but has since earned a cult following due to its unique styling. A remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, was released in 2005. In 2015, the game was included as part of the Rare Replay compilation for Xbox One.

Gameplay[edit]

The player can travel from one level to another through the game's overworld. Each area has a distinct colour theme.

Conker's Bad Fur Day is a platformer video game where the player controls Conker the Squirrel through a series of three-dimensional levels.[1] 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.[2] 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.[2]

Unlike Rare's previous platform games Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, Conker's abilities are simpler.[2] The player can run, jump, and smack enemies with a frying pan. Conker can also swim underwater for a limited period of time, climb ladders or ropes, and push objects.[3] To regain lost health, Conker can eat pieces of "anti-gravity" Chocolate that are scattered throughout the levels.[2] The game employs "context sensitive" pads that allow Conker to gain different, temporary abilities when pressing the "B" button atop them.[2] 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, while others pull out his shotgun, throwing knives, and slingshot. They also serve to inform players of what needs to be done next.[2]

The game includes a multiplayer mode where up to four players can compete against each other in seven different game types: Beach, Raptor, Heist, War, Tank, Race and Deathmatch.[4] In Beach, a team of players must go up through a beach and into a waiting escape vehicle, while another must stop them by firing at them from fixed positions.[3] Raptor involves a team of players controlling raptors to feed a baby dinosaur while another controlling cavemen who have to steal dinosaur eggs.[3] Heist engrosses players in the robbery of a bank, where the goal is to retrieve a cash bag from the centre of the level and run with it to the team's vault without being damaged.[3] War can either be a traditional capture the flag mode or Total War, where players have to get the other team's gas canister and use it to release a chemical gas that annihilates the enemy.[3] In Tank, players fight using tanks and chemical canisters that release a lethal gas.[3] Race is a racing mode which provides two variations of the same course. Items can be acquired and used against opponents.[3] Finally, Deathmatch is a standard deathmatch mode where players fight against each other in shooting style from a third-person perspective.[3] Players can set multiple options for each game, such as score limit, number of lives, and inclusion of computer-controlled bots.[4]

Plot[edit]

Conker's Bad Fur Day follows the story of Conker the Squirrel, a red squirrel who embarks on a quest to return home to his girlfriend, Berri, after a night of binge drinking with his friends.[5] 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 servant, Professor Von Kriplespac, to solve the problem.[6] When Von Kriplespac suggests the use of a red squirrel as the fourth leg of his table, the Panther King sends his minions to capture one.[7] During his quest to return home, Conker finds wads of cash scattered throughout the land and becomes sidetracked from his goal. This led him to embroil himself in a series of increasingly absurd and often dangerous situations, including having to recover a bee hive from enormous wasps, confronting a giant opera-singing pile of feces, and getting drafted into a war between grey squirrels and a Nazi-like group of teddy bears known as the Tediz, which Conker ultimately destroys.[8]

When Conker finds Berri, Don Weaso, head of the Weasel Mafia, enlist them to rob a bank.[9] After entering the vault, Conker and Berri find that the bank scene was an elaborate trap set by the Panther King to capture Conker.[10] While confronting the Panther King and Von Kriplespac, Berri is gunned down by Weaso. Afterwards, an Alien creature bursts out of the Panther King's chest, killing him instantly. Von Kriplespac explains that the Alien is one of his creations and that he had planned to use this opportunity to kill the Panther King and escape captivity.[11] He then reveals that they are inside a spaceship, which he activates and takes into low orbit. From there, he instructs the Alien to attack and kill Conker as revenge for destroying the Tediz, which were also his creations.[8] While Conker battles the alien with the aid of a robotic suit, the game suddenly freezes. Conker expresses disbelief that Rare did not test the game properly, and asks the programmers to assist him.[12] The programmers give Conker a katana and teleport him to the Panther King's throne room, where he decapitates the alien. Conker is then crowned the new King of the land.

As the King, Conker realises that he should have brought Berri back to life when he was negotiating with the programmers. He then calls out to bring her back to life, only to realise that the programmers have already left.[13] Conker 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."[14] After the credits roll, Conker is seen back at the same pub he was seen in at the start of the game. As it begins to storm outside, he drunkenly exits the bar, leaving in the opposite direction he took previously.

Development[edit]

Conker's Bad Fur Day was developed by Rare and directed by Chris Seavor.[15] The game was announced to be in development at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June 1997, under the title Conker's Quest.[16] A year later, it was revealed that the game's title was changed to Twelve Tales: Conker 64 and players would be able to control Conker in action-based settings and Berri in strategy-based settings, with the possibility of two player split-screen gameplay.[17] Early screenshots suggested that the game would be targeted at a family audience and feature cute characters and colourful settings. Rare had a history of making games of this sort and at first Twelve Tales: Conker 64 appeared to be similar. However, Rare was influenced by a critical reception of the prototype game's cuteness, resulting in a game design overhaul.[18] The fact that the game was delayed several times and not mentioned for almost a year led to speculation that the game was quietly cancelled.[19] 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."[20]

In 2000, it was announced that Conker was retooled into a controversial game titled Conker's Bad Fur Day with a large amount of scatological humour.[21][22] According to the developers, "We already had the main character (although he was eventually remodeled) and a good deal of code already written, so the best option seemed to be to change the game's direction. Mature humor was a key element."[23] Several aspects of the game were designed to attract an adult audience. Unlike in Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, item collecting was mostly discarded and character abilities were simplified with "context sensitive" pads.[1] The game also relies heavily on cutscenes and features a large number of film parodies.[1] 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.[24] Seavor, however, remarked that "pretty much 99.9% of the game remained."[24]

In 2013, the developers explained that they had originally drawn inspiration from their deep analysis of the gameplay and camera mechanics of Super Mario 64. According to them, "We were just copying Mario, weren't we? Which, to this day, is still the best 3D camera."[25]:8:10 A lot of time and care was spent on system performance optimisation, animation details, and audiovisual appeal. For example, to increase the number of simultaneous light sources to four, one programmer spent four months deciphering and rewriting the Nintendo-supplied Japanese-commented microcode for the Nintendo 64's Reality Coprocessor, while another microcoded the support for MP3, reverberation, and Dolby Pro Logic surround sound.[26]:0:40 A developer also spent weeks optimising the system's ability to display distant backdrops as texture tiles to enhance gameplay navigation and visual appeal.[25]:10:10 Due in part to its extensive vocal track, Conker's Bad Fur Day is one of the few Nintendo 64 games that features a 64MB cartridge.[27]

Conker's Bad Fur Day was first released on 5 March 2001 in North America. Advertisements for the game were featured in adult magazines such as Playboy,[28] and video commercials were geared towards an adult audience.[29] As Nintendo was known for its family-friendly games like Mario and Pokémon, the game was the subject of controversy. According to Rare, "Nintendo initially had concerns regarding this issue, because kids might confuse the product as being aimed at them, but I'm sure you'll agree if you've seen the box that Nintendo is making sure nobody makes that mistake."[23] Nintendo of America declined to acknowledge the game in its Nintendo Power magazine and KB Toys, which specialised in toys and video games for children, decided not to sell the game.[30] In Europe, the game was published and distributed by THQ on 6 April 2001, after Nintendo of Europe declined to publish it.[31]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
AggregatorScore
GameRankings89.28% (33 reviews)[39]
Metacritic92/100 (19 reviews)[40]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame4/5 stars[32]
Edge7/10[33]
GamePro5/5 stars[34]
Game RevolutionB+[35]
GameSpot9.3/10[5]
IGN9.9/10[1]
N64 Magazine89%[36]
Nintendo Life9/10[37]
Gameplanet4.5/5 stars[38]

Conker's Bad Fur Day received critical acclaim, with an aggregate review score of 92 out of 100 at Metacritic.[40] Many publications and websites declared the graphics were the best on the Nintendo 64.[1][5][38] 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.[1] Shane Satterfield of GameSpot went so far as to say that the game "makes other Nintendo 64 games look like 16-bit software."[5] 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 [like] it, and when he's pissed off players will actually be able to see his teeth showing in a frown."[1] Reviewers noted occasional drops in the frame rate, but most agreed it did not interfere with the gameplay.[1]

The game's audio and diverse vocal track were widely praised.[35] Critics credited the voice acting for its different accents and styles, with "cleverly lewd" scripts and "dead-on" movie spoofs.[1][5] Most reviewers agreed the jokes were clever and funny.[1][5][35] According to IGN, "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".[1] 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".[35] The soundtrack was praised 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.[5][35] Reviewers also highlighted the number of sound effects, with GameSpot noting that "there are literally dozens of sounds just for Conker's footsteps".[5]

The gameplay was highlighted for its unconventional context-sensitive systems. IGN credited Rare for reducing the number of items to collect and simplifying the moves with context-sensitive pads, stating that they "help keep the action shifting, refreshing, and always exciting."[1] In contrast, Edge remarked that the context-sensitive moments "threaten to make the title little more than a procession of barely connected and puerile minigames."[33] Game Revolution criticised the game's simplistic action, short length and linear nature.[35] Similarly, GameSpot noted that the game's linearity "cuts its length considerably".[5] The game's camera system was criticised by several reviewers. Geraint Evans of N64 Magazine felt that it does not allow players to properly judge their position within their surroundings,[36] while GameSpot remarked that it can get caught on objects or refuse to obey commands.[5] The multiplayer was described as inventive and was praised for its numerous options.[1][38] GameSpot, however, remarked that the multiplayer modes add some longevity to the game, but most "fail to stand the test of time."[5]

Conker's Bad Fur Day was awarded the 2001 BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Award for sound,[41] IGN's Game of the Month for March 2001,[42] and GameSpot's Best Platform Game for 2001.[43] In 2009, Official Nintendo Magazine placed Conker's Bad Fur Day at #97 on their list of 100 Greatest Nintendo Games Ever,[44] and GameTrailers rated it #1 on their list of Top Ten Funniest Games.[45] In 2010, UGO included the game at #3 on their list of The 11 Weirdest Game Endings.[46] Although the game fared well with critics in both the United Kingdom and United States, it sold worse than expected (only about 55,000 copies as of April 2001),[47] 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.[47][48] Nevertheless, the game has enjoyed a cult following due to its unique styling.[49]

Legacy[edit]

After the release of Conker's Bad Fur Day, Rare began development of a direct sequel referred to as Conker's Other Bad Day.[50][51] Chris Seavor revealed that the game would deal 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."[50] In 2002, however, Rare was purchased by Microsoft, who told them they were not interested in such a project.[50]

A remake of Conker's Bad Fur Day, titled Conker: Live & Reloaded, was ultimately released for the Xbox in 2005 to generally favourable critical reception.[52][53] Developers noted that it was difficult to port the game to the Xbox system because Bad Fur Day's microcoded performance optimisations had been deeply customised for the Nintendo 64 hardware.[26]:2:25 Conker: Live & Reloaded features updated graphics and a multiplayer mode that supports the Xbox Live service. Additionally, some aspects in the single-player mode were adjusted: several minor obscenities within the voice dialogue that are present in the Nintendo 64 game were censored at Microsoft's request,[54] the camera control was refined and improved with a zoom function, and an auto-targeting system was added to the game.[54]

After the release of Live & Reloaded, Rare began work on another game in the Conker universe titled Conker: Gettin' Medieval. The game was to be multiplayer focused and did not feature Conker as a main character, with Rare instead hoping to focus on other characters in the series. However, the game was ultimately cancelled.[55] Conker returned in a new episodic campaign for the sandbox game Project Spark. The campaign, titled Conker's Big Reunion, is set ten years after the events of Bad Fur Day and Seavor reprised his voice roles.[56] The first episode of the campaign was released in April 2015, but the remaining ones were cancelled the following September.[57] Conker's Bad Fur Day is also included as part of the Rare Replay compilation for Xbox One. The compilation was released on August 4, 2015.[58]

References[edit]

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  6. ^ Rare. 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. 
  7. ^ Rare. 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. 
  8. ^ a b Rare. 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! 
  9. ^ Rare. 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! 
  10. ^ Rare. 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. 
  11. ^ Rare. 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? 
  12. ^ Rare. 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. 
  13. ^ Rare. 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. 
  14. ^ Rare. 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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External links[edit]