Years ago, when Rare Ltd were still making those amazing games that defined a generation, they decided to create a new cuddly character set for adventures with all the family, but then they scrapped it and made Conker instead. Released in 2001 for the Nintendo 64, Conkers Bad Fur Day was a bold move, not only because it featured a ginger in the lead role, it also set a new high for adult themed gaming, with its high quality gameplay and well written humor, there hasnt been anything that has come close to Conker.
Its not an exaggeration to state that Rare games probably wasted more teenage hours than Playboy, with their team responsible for some of the most popular titles of the era Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark (which also features a ginger haired protagonist) all bear the Rare R logo. Those where the glory days for Rare, before they were bought out by the men in suits at Microsoft, with most employees either leaving or being absorbed into different areas of its new father company. This demise of Rare can be seen in their most recent titles, Perfect Dark Zero turned out to be a painfully average affair, since then Microsoft have entrusted them with the great responsibility of producing the happy-smiley-family-fun Wii-wannabe Kinect Sports titles. A sad state for a company that used to own such a large section on gamers shelves. Our red-headed leads adventure is certainly not for children but it isnt widely offensive either, its more the sort of humor that adults find funny. The game starts out the same way that everyday of my adult life has begun; with a massive hungover. The players first task is to find an aspirin to sober up, an adult theme but not overtly offensive and this can be said for most of the humor within the game, mainly revolving around well implemented toilet humor and film parodies. There is also a fair share of graphic violence and some sexual themes, but nothing worst that a friday night in Slough. As a fourteen year old, the story and mature themes of Conker were absolute gold, I felt like I was being taken seriously as the adult I truly was, this was unknown to my parents who would have given me a stern disapproving frown if they would have seen some of the content and language used. The game doesnt mess about, it plays much more like a game set in the real world than in the computer game universe. Conker is rewarded with cash, rather than massive gold coins, stars or gems. The inhabitants of the world have human traits such as feelings, issues, bowel problems and sexual desires. Even the prolog when we see Conker after he has completed the game and has become king of everything (or something very computer game-like), he has the very human feeling that, the grass is always greener, and that life was better where he was to begin with, just hanging out with his friends at the pub. The story mode is easily one of the best video game adventures I have ever completed, but there is also extensive multiplayer that kept me playing for what was probably years. A surprisingly varied choice of modes, made Conkers the only multiplayer you needed when friends came over, or even alone the modes were challenging enough. In several the two teams are the squirrels (who look and act a lot like the allies of WWII) against the teddy bears (who are essentially Nazis - I always knew teddies were racist). Its much more fun to see blood, bone and brain matter of those fleshy squirrels hit the floor than the teddies brown stuffing. Conker was showered with critical praise, but much like a ginger step child the game was unpopular and failed to sell well, which as we all know means not much chance of a sequel. A faithful remake was released in 2005 with Conker: Live & Reloaded on the Xbox, a graphically spruced up exact copy of the original for a new generation of console, with a much furrier Conker and more detailed and polygon-ed environments. The game introduced new people the story and added some online multiplayer options, but has still failed to inspire a sequel. This article has been a long time coming and was actually one of the first games I wanted to write about, as it holds a large place in my heart. Conker is on my (very short) list of gingers that I like, along with Christina Hendricks and Damian Lewis, I strongly recommend playing either version of this game, your life will be better afterwards.