Solving Puzzles With Bullets and Pee: Celebrating Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Controversial video games have been around since the very beginnings of the medium. These games turn heads and raise ire for their use of edgy or blatantly offensive content which have drawn every reaction from petitions and boycotts to full-on legal battles. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is one such game, but it’s a little different from other games of its kind. Bad Fur Day was a revamp that came far out of left field for what it was, where it came from, and the time period in which it was released. It didn’t just flip the script on what we knew about Rare and their innocent little red squirrel. It lit the script on fire and put it out in a toilet, but in a good way. It was on this day back in 2001 that this unapologetically scatological adventure game hit the shelves and began a legacy.
It’s almost hard to believe that Rare took such a risk in releasing this game. The company was no stranger to mature themed games, having released games like GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark. However, Rare was also well-known for its current runs in family-friendly adventure games like the Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong series. The Conker series in particular had seen a family-friendly release with Conker’s Pocket Tales giving Conker his solo debut on the Game Boy/Game Boy Color systems. When Bad Fur Day was announced under the name Conker’s Quest for the Nintendo 64, it was easy to assume that it would be another “E for Everyone” foray into the adventure genre. How wrong we were.
After a few delays and a total retool of the game, we certainly got an adventure: one filled with busty-breasted sunflowers, opera-singing piles of feces, and teddy bears with fascist agendas. Bad Fur Day pushed the envelope, injecting the colorful and child-like world of Conker with mature themes and parodies that probably would have gotten most children grounded if their parents happened to walk in. It was such an unexpected move that Nintendo refused to feature the game in Nintendo Power and Nintendo of Europe refused to publish the game. Luckily, THQ stepped in to ensure that European fans would get their chance at this bizarre adventure.
Adult themes aside, it’s not like Bad Fur Day was a bad game either. Rare brought their usual A-game in a medium they were quite familiar with. Choosing to forgo the collect-a-thons that somewhat plagued games like Banjo-Kazooie, Bad Fur Day was more of a straightforward affair. Conker was tasked with completing challenges, such as solving puzzles and defeating bosses. There was some collection, but not nearly as much as other titles coming out at the time. Some criticized the game for being a bit shorter on this end, but ultimately it was a more streamlined and enjoyable experience without the lulls that come with having to gather tons of puzzle pieces to advance the game. The game also featured some of the best graphics and audio to be seen at the time, much of which arguably holds up to a certain degree even now.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day has a certain notoriety about it and honestly how could a game in which cartoon squirrels and Nazi teddy bears reenact the beach landing scene of Saving Private Ryan not? However, it’s more than just a series of edgy jokes. Bad Fur Day was Rare doing what it did best in its prime, which was craft memorable and engaging adventure games. Even without any of the adult notes for which the game was known, Bad Fur Day is still a proficient and enjoyable adventure title.