Conker's Bad Fur Day: History of the Adult N64 Game Explained - VRGyani News and Media


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Conker's Bad Fur Day: History of the Adult N64 Game Explained

While Mature-rated games were always available in Nintendo consoles, the company is publicly known for making family-friendly videogames filled with cute characters. The Nintendo Switch is doing an excellent job in shifting this false perception, as Nintendo keeps inviting third-party games to their online store; nowadays, you can even find hentai on the Nintendo Switch. However, long before online stores even existed, Conker’s Bad Fur Day slipped a game into the Nintendo 64 filled with sex jokes, drug abuse, and Hollywood spoofs.

While the N64 was home to other Mature-rated games, such as Doom 64 and Resident Evil 2, those titles were clear about the violence and horror they featured. However, by only glancing at Conker’s Bad Fur Day, parents could easily think their children were just playing another 3D platformer starring a fluffy protagonist. At least until the bee and the flower start to have sex. Really loud sex. So how did Rare, the producer of Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, end up doing a game about a drunk squirrel? And why should we feel lucky they did? Pour yourself a glass; this is going to be a wild journey.

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All for the Punchline

The history of Conker’s Bad Fur Day begins in 1996, long before the game was even in pre-production. That was the year Nintendo launched Super Mario 64, a revolutionary game that opened a whole new dimension for platformers. So, of course, every gaming studio began to race against the clock to surf on Super Mario 64’s success wave and launch the next 3D platformer hit before their competitors. That’s why Rare decided to drop its in-development RPG Project Dream and reuse the dead game’s engine to develop two 3D platformers at the same time: Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Quest. The first, featuring the iconic duo of bird and bear; the second following the adventures of a cute acorn-loving squirrel.

We all know how Banjo-Kazzoie turned out to be excellent when released in 1998, but Conker’s Quest would never see the light of day. Nintendo presented both 3D platformers in 1997’s E3, but they had such a similar concept that some couldn’t even realize they were two different games, while others thought that Banjo-Kazooie was the superior game. Unsure about Conker’s Quest’s success, Rare decided to rework some of the game’s main features.

It’s curious to note that, in 1997, Conker was featured in Diddy Kong Racing, as Rare wanted the public to know their future cute mascot. Even more curious is that’s (now part of IGN) 1997 description of Conker’s Quest says that the game “make[s] gamers feel as if they're playing through Disney's movie version of Bambi.” Things would indeed change before the game would be released.

By 1998, Conker’s Quest name was changed to Twelve Tales: Conker 64, and Rare had added a multiplayer mode to the game to allow players to enjoy both a cooperative and a competitive mode. The campaign of Twelve Tales: Conker 64 would feature two main characters, Conker and his girlfriend, Berri. Each character would have their own gameplay sections, with Conker focusing on frantic platforming and Berri using a dino-pet to defend herself from enemies. In only a year, Twelve Tales: Conker 64 presented a whole different game from 1997’s Conker’s Quest, trying to set itself apart from Banjo-Kazooie. However, this reworking delayed the game’s development, and after Banjo-Kazooie was released, Rare became concerned that another kid-friendly title would not sell well enough. To make matters more complicated, a Game Boy Color game featuring Conker was being developed by another team at the same time, as Rare initially hoped the character would gain a lot of traction with the public.

Twelve Tales: Conker 64 descended into development hell while the creative team tried to think of new solutions to make Conker relevant in a market that was flooded by 3D platformers featuring family-friendly protagonists. The answer came in 1999 when artist Chris Seavor pitched a whole new concept to Rare leaders Tim and Chris Stamper. Seavor wanted Conker’s game to have a mature narrative that followed a hero that makes things even worse by trying to help everyone. Seavor also wanted to amp up Conker’s violence so that it could depart entirely from the cute-hero formula. The Stampers liked the idea so much that they made Seavor project leader.

In 1999, Rare would release Conker's Pocket Tales for the Game Boy Color, a cute adventure game that reintroduced the fluffy character to the public as a happy squirrel who just can’t get enough of those acorns. Behind the scenes, though, Twelve Tales: Conker 64 was undergoing an extreme makeover. A classic would soon be born to challenge everything Nintendo stood for.

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What’s So Great About Conker, Anyway?

The first change Seavor made on Twelve Tales: Conker 64 (which would eventually become rebranded to Conker's Bad Fur Day) was to rework a section where Conker must carry a beehive back to their rightful owners after it got stolen by evil wasps. The challenge was too dull for Seavor, who decided to add something funny by making the beehive display machine guns that destroy the wasps once the player finished the mission. That section, still present in the final game, rewards the player with a punchline, giving them the satisfaction of being part of a joke. The Stampers loved the result and gave the team complete creative freedom to make even more punchlines. Well, almost complete creative freedom — a Ku Klux Klan joke was cut, probably for the best.

The production of Conker’s Bad Fur Day took a creatively frantic turn. Designers, artists, and even musicians all wanted to contribute by adding new punchlines. Violence was soon not enough, and the team started to add adult jokes. Soon movie parodies would also be a part of the game. Each gameplay section of Conker’s Bad Fur Day is built around a specific joke, which makes its gameplay as varied as possible. Few games are so chaotically glorious as Conker’s Bad Fur Day.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a game that includes a boss fight against an opera-singing giant pile of crap while also letting the player get drunk and use pee to fight demons. The whole story is perverted, as Conker blacks out during a poker night and has to go back to his girlfriend before she gets mad at him. But, of course, that doesn’t stop him from being a jackass who flirts with other women, steals money, bribes guards, and makes fun of a caveman with a small penis. Even the opening credits of Conker’s Bad Fur Day are subversive by having the protagonist destroy the N64 logo with a chainsaw!

Sales Are for the Moment, Legacy Is Forever

As stated, Nintendo was willing to feature mature, violent games in their consoles, like Mortal Kombat 4 and Perfect Dark, to please the kids who grew up with the NES and were already turning 20. But Conker’s Bad Fur Day was a different kind of beast, angering Nintendo so much that the company refused to distribute the game in Europe (THQ took up the job instead). Parents worldwide were also not happy to find out that Rare’s cute squirrel mascot was now cursing, gambling, and smoking cigars. Take into account that Conker’s Bad Fur Day was released in 2001, when the Nintendo 64 was at the end of its commercial life, and it’s not hard to understand why the game sold poorly, with less than 55 thousand copies sold.

Even so, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a cult classic, resonating through generations. And it’s easy to see why. Conker’s Bad Fur Day has a Matrix section with bullet-time slow motion, a Dracula spoof where you play as a bat, a Saving Private Ryan level where you fight Nazi-teddy bears commanded by a demon-possed girl. The gameplay is uneven, and some sections are better than others. But the sheer commitment of building an entire game for the sake of punchlines is worth praising, especially with a dedicated team that used all they have learned through development hell to have the time of their lives.

Besides that, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a rare game without a happy ending, as Conker must face the consequences of his own actions and ends up lonely and depressed, even though he imagined he would get everything he wanted. Conker’s Bad Fur Day uses its Mature rating both for the jokes and for the emotional darkness of its plot.

Unfortunately, Microsoft shelved a Conker’s Bad Fur Day sequel soon after it bought Rare in 2002. A 2005 remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, was also a massive disappointment to fans, as the team was ordered to censor some sensitive sections of the game, butchering the “Great Mighty Poo” song in the process. And so Conker met his ultimate fate, trapped in the files of a company that refuses to use the IP to its full potential. Since Live & Reloaded, Conker’s was supposed to have an episodic adventure inside Project Spark, which was canceled after a single episode. The only other appearance of the character was in Young Conker, a HoloLens project that stripped the character from all its adult content. Even so, the N64 adventure still holds as an adventure that’s surprisingly fun even for today’s gaming standards. More importantly, Conker’s Bad Fur Day lives on as proof that a team of geniuses and lunatics were able to sneak an improbably adult game in a Nintendo console.

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