Games can be crude. They can be vulgar and offensive, sometimes overly violent or sexual. The video game industry has tried many-a-thing in order to captivate the audience, with some success at times, and failing miserably at others. There is one company, though, that stepped over every boundary, played with everything wrong and got out of it what I like to call a masterpiece. Yes, you have guessed it, I am talking about Rare and their infamous Conker’s Bad Fur Day for the N64.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a unique game from every point of view. The game’s universe and atmosphere are constantly changing to accommodate whichever franchise it’s parodying at the time, and with a plot that barely holds together but is so completely ridiculous it just adds to the charm of the whole, you can’t help but crack a smile every now and then at the over the top references. The game’s aesthetics are artistically interesting. Since there are so many different areas in the game, we get to see a lot of different art styles, which makes for a visually striking experience through and through. Even the music stands out most of the time, with entertaining, lively, jazzy themes to accompany you on your adventure. Gameplay-wise, the game is a huge melting pot of ideas, with different play styles in different areas as the story progresses.
What truly makes Conker’s Bad Fur Day stand out, though, is its constant depraved humour, its gratuitous violence at every turn and its over sexualization of just about every character and situation imaginable. It can feel immature at times, but when you take a closer look at it, you realize that it is simply another way of telling a story. Much like in a Tarantino movie, just about every aspect of the game is exaggerated and pushed to its limits in order to crank up the ridicule or make a situation way more tense than it needs to be. This way of not taking itself seriously is what lets the player simply hop along for the crazy ride that the game offers. Boy, oh boy, is it a ride. From beginning to end, Conker will surprise you with always more references to pop culture and a, quite frankly, insanely creative way to make those universes come to life on its own terms.
All that being said, and now that it has been established that Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a great game (at least in my opinion), I have to say that what really piqued my interest about this game is the way it handles so many sensible subjects. From dysfunctional relationships to war, to ruling over people and even altruism, it takes a (sometimes not so) clear stance on all of these without being afraid of hurting opinions or going overboard. I think this is what the industry needs the most today. Companies nowadays are afraid to make big commitments or state controversial opinions in their games, because they’re afraid they’ll be crucified on the public place, but this is precisely what we need in order to be able to have meaningful discussions about some of these subjects. We need people who are not afraid to take a stance and hold on to it. Plus, with all these super serious games that are coming out that are all about bringing the feels to their players, where is all the fun? Where do I go to get a good hearty laugh?
I’ll conclude by saying that I don’t think Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a game for everyone, and certainly not for children. That being said, it is also a whole lot of fun and I think it really does help think outside the box and be creative about a lot of things, while exploring the extremes about so many subjects. That can be beneficial to opinion formation. In the end, it is simply a game that will leave nobody indifferent. If it teaches you one thing, let it be this: you have to try things out for yourself before forming an opinion.