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Conker's Bad Fur Day is an action-platformer video game developed and published by Rare. It was exclusively released for the Nintendo 64 in 2001 and is Rare's last game published for the console. The game was in development for four years and was originally intended to be geared towards a children's audience; however, it was then redesigned as a teen and adult platform game. It features graphic violence, sexual themes, mature language, toilet humor, and several film parodies. A remake, titled Conker: Live & Reloaded, was exclusively released for the Xbox in 2005. It features enhanced graphics and a different multiplayer mode.
The game stars Conker the Squirrel, a Rare character who previously appeared in Diddy Kong Racing and Conker's Pocket Tales, as he attempts to return home to his girlfriend. The gameplay is centered on random encounters, where players are challenged to complete specific tasks in order to progress. The game also includes a multiplayer mode that up to four players can compete in seven different game types. Despite its limited advertising and poor sales, the game received very positive reviews from critics, who lauded its graphics and audio. It also earned a cult following due to its unique styling. It has also gained controversy due to its content.
The game follows the story of Conker the Squirrel, a greedy, heavy drinking red squirrel, as he attempts to return home to his girlfirend, Berri. 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. As Conker searches for his way home, he finds himself embroiled in a series of increasingly absurd and oftentimes 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 gray squirrels and "Tediz".
However, Conker keeps managing to find wads of cash scattered throughout the land, and in his desire to find them all, he is sidetracked from his ultimate goal of returning home. 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 get into the vault, it is revealed that the bank scene was an elaborate trap set by the King and Don Weaso in order to capture Conker. In the ensuing confrontation, Berri is killed by Weaso, and an alien suddenly bursts out of the Panther King's chest, killing him instantly. Von Kriplespac then appears and reveals that the alien is one of his creations, and that he had planned all along to use this opportunity to kill the king and escape.
Having activated his spaceship that immediately launches into low orbit, Kriplespac instructs the alien to attack and kill Conker as revenge for destroying the Tediz, which were also his creations. However, Conker pulls a switch that opens an air lock, pulling Von Kriplespac and Berri's corpse into the vacuum of space. As the alien lunges at Conker, the entire game suddenly locks up. Conker expresses disbelief at the fact 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 then teleport him to the Panther King's throne room, where he subsequently decapitates the alien. As a result, he is crowned the new king of the land. Conker then comes to the grim realization that Berri is still dead. He attempts to ask the programmers to bring her back to life, but realizes that they have already left. Conker then speaks to the player in a closing monologue, in which he discusses what it means to appreciate what one already has instead of being overcome with desire and envy for superficially better circumstances, stating that "the grass is always greener, and you don't really know what it is you have until it's gone".
Conker's Bad Fur Day is an action-platform game where the player controls Conker the Squirrel through a series of free three dimensional levels. The game features an overworld where players can transition from one level to another, although many of which 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 in order to encounter tasks to do. The gameplay mostly relies on figuring out a way to help several 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. Besides this, he also has 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 in order to slam into the ground, and some are also used to pull out his shotgun, to activate his throwing knives, slingshot and so on.
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 assume the control of the Frenchies and must go up through the beach and into a waiting escape vehicle, while others must stop them by firing at them from fixed positions. Raptor involves players to control raptors in order to feed a baby dinosaur, while others to play as cavemen that have to steal dinosaur eggs. Heist engrosses players in the robbery of a bank, where the main goal is to retrieve a cash bag from the center of the level and run with it to the team's corresponding vault without being damaged. War can either be the traditional capture the flag mode or Total War, where players have to get the other teams gas canister and put it in a specific place to release a chemical gas that annihilates the corresponding 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 the multiplayer version of a racing minigame within single player mode. And finally there is the 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, among others.
Even though this game did well in both the United Kingdom and United States, it fared worse than expected, in part because of its early 2001 release: a year later, the Nintendo 64 was discontinued after the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Another factor was Nintendo's fear that the game would shatter their family friendly image. Even though it was to be published by Rare themselves, Nintendo felt that parents might accidently buy the game because of the cartoon squirrel who had appeared in other, kid-friendly games, and not realize it was intended for the 17-and-up crowd. As the image of the game's box above illustrates, Nintendo demanded the box feature a larger-than-usual "M for Mature" rating graphic, as well as a disclaimer "warning this game is not for anyone under 17"- both highly unprecedented moves that signify the company's fears. Nintendo of America refused to even acknowledge the game in their Nintendo Power publication, and all advertising was limited to late-night cable television and ads in Playboy.
It's believed that Nintendo's poor promotion of such a critically lauded game was one of the defining factors in the friction between them and Rare (Rare left Nintendo for Microsoft in late 2002). Despite everything working against it, the game has enjoyed a cult following, actually growing in popularity despite it being for an older console.
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