Thanks to the staff of OnlySP, I am inviting you to come on a journey through our 50 favourite games. This week brings a blast of nostalgic memory and a creatively crude cartoon aesthetic.
#23. CONKER’S BAD FUR DAY, by Daniel Pereira
For anyone playing video games in the late 90s and early 2000s, developer Rare created some of the most memorable experiences within the industry. To this day, many of the studio’s titles are revered as pure classics when compared to the competition, leaving most gamers genuinely shocked when they meet someone who has never played them.
Titles such as Goldeneye will forever be remembered by many gamers for being the crowning achievement of local multiplayer among friends. Similarly, Banjo and Kazooie remains a prominent figurehead to which platforming games are still compared to today.
Unfortunately, Rare flew too close to the sun following its acquisition by Microsoft, but not before releasing other gems that might have flown under the radar. Releasing in 2001, Conker’s Bad Fur Day resembled an experience similar to that of its Banjo cousins, but further examination demonstrates that this cannot be further from the truth. Within the first few minutes of the game, Conker’s reveals that it fully intends on wearing its M rating with pride – this not only came as a shock when compared to Rare’s portfolio at the time, but simultaneously provided a breath of fresh air for an older audience on the Nintendo 64.
As the title suggests, Conker’s Bad Fur Day sees the titular red squirrel in what appears to be the worst day in his life. After spending all of his money getting drunk at the local bar, he soon realizes that his girlfriend was kidnapped in his absence by the Panther King.
The motive behind this abduction is to ultimately find a red squirrel to replace the missing leg of the Panther King’s side table. With a plot so obscure, one may find themselves unable to take the narrative seriously, yet Conker’s over-the-top presentation of character and plot development make it all worthwhile.
Throughout the story, Rare has crafted a narrative that is littered with vulgarity and adult themes. The juxtaposition of this M rated story and the colourful animation of the level design found within Conker’s serves only to accentuate the obscurity of this incredible game.
At its core, Conker’s is a spoof on other properties found within the entertainment industry, while even mocking its own existence in some cases. Not a moment in the game exists that is anything but a reference to an outside movie or story. From dodging bullets à la The Matrix, to watching a giant turd recite the final words of the Wicked Witch of the West as he is flushed down an endless void of his own excrement, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is littered with moments that allow the player to laugh out loud and join in on the game’s own shameless roast.
For many gamers, Conker’s represents a fond memory that is often lost in modern gaming. I remember very fondly being only a child and experiencing Conker’s for the first time. Back then, video rental stores were still prosperous, and as a child I would often ride my bike down to my local store.
With only enough money scavenged up to make one rental, I browsed the Nintendo 64 aisle numerous times before settling on a game that featured a red squirrel on the cover traversing through levels that were reminiscent to that of Banjo and Kazooie. Thankfully, the cashier did not seem to care about the laws preventing the sale of an M rated title to an obvious minor, and with that I made my way home to play this seemingly harmless game.
One could imagine my surprise when the game almost instantaneously throws censored vulgarity and blatant adult themes before my seven-year-old eyes. Knowing that I should not be playing this game only made me want to play it more, as the cartoonish premise made my young eyes not want to turn away.
Now that I am older, I am able to fully understand every innuendo the game has to offer, but that does not diminish the genuine joy Conker’s brought me as a child growing up. To this day, the encounter with the Great Mighty Poo is still my fondest gaming memory, as you will find difficulty not laughing at a giant turd singing at you about how he wants to shove you up his own rump. Moments like this kept me returning to that rental store, just so that I could hold onto the game for another week.
For Conker’s to cement itself within my life as one of the greatest video game experience I will ever have was not difficult, and as the years go on I discovered that I am not the only one. Over time, Conker’s Bad Fur Day has developed a cult following from many within the industry, due to the uniqueness of its premise and delivery.
For a long time now, rumors have been circulating about a potential sequel to the title, yet nothing is ever concrete. Regardless of if a sequel happens or not, Conker’s Bad Fur Day remains one of Rare’s crowning achievements, thus resulting in one of the greatest games ever made.
Thanks so much for joining us for a look at Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Come back next week as we look at another game with great personal significance. In the meantime, you can follow OnlySP on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and why not join the OnlySP Discord too?