Why Conker Went From Cute To Crass

Rare's Conker used to be a nice little squirrel. He was cute, he had polite friends, and he was going to be starring in a very Nintendo platformer for a Nintendo console.

Yet as you probably know, that's not how things ended up.

In the late 90s, as Rare was following up their success with Nintendo's Donkey Kong, they decided to create their own cute mascot character. Well, after Banjo Kazooie, their second cute mascot character. They ended up with Conker, an adorable squirrel.

Conker was due to appear in a game called Conker's Quest, which was essentially a Mario 64 clone, only with a squirrel instead of a plumber. That game then had its name changed to Twelve Tales: Conker 64. It was paraded around at E3, shown off in a few gaming mags, and then...disappeared. You can see some original footage below.

It would re-emerge months later as something entirely different. The game we now know as Conker's Bad Fur Day. Gone was the cuteness, replaced with obscene humour and over-the-top violence. It was one hell of a turnaround. So why the change?

The character's creator, Chris Seavor, has a great interview up over on Gamikia, in which he explains that it was a crowded marketplace - Conkers was up against not only Mario but Rare's own Banjo Kazooie - more than anything else which led to the switch.

And the tone the title eventually settled on? "The trick with any new game when you're trying to pitch it, and this applies across the board, whether you're doing a FPS, MMO whatever is : What does this game do that's different to its competitors? Humour, toilet or otherwise, was ours."

And would be for many years to come, as Conker went from Nintendo 64 to Xbox, with a rather strange and terrifying pit-stop on the Game Boy along the way.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


    Nobody ever remembers Conker's Pocket Tales.

    Also, why must you tease me with articles about one of Rare's best games? They'll never be awesome again as long as M$ keeps pulling their strings.

      I still have my copy of Conker's Pocket Tales in my bedroom.

      I have Conker's Pocket Tales too... :-)

    He didn't even ask why they butchered the already fantastic multiplayer in the Xbox version...

      Seriously! All they needed to do was just add the capability to play it on live/lan with more than 4 players and it'd be perfect!

      But no...class based 3rd person shooter ftl. :/

        I know right? I was so excited when the remake came out, only to be utterly confused when I couldn't find the proper multiplayer...

    This was a really bad interviewer. Seavor seems very honest and was probably willing to open up more about Rare but the interviewer just went on to more dull questions. Would have also liked to hear more about those cut jokes.

    Holy hell were the sound effects similar to Mario.

    Loved the N64 conkers Bad Fur Day not so much the XBOX one especially missed the refugee run from the original

    I don't think I ever completed Conker's Bad Fur Day (N64 version).

    I think I was up to the warzone bit but kept dying and rage quit.

    I never had a n64 so only played the xbox one and I really enjoyed it. Never like the mp though

    Was my favourite game on the N64, I clocked it so many times, not to mention the multiplayer. Favourite character was Greg the Grim Reaper, and his hatred of cats.

    I leant it to a friend and never got it back :(

    bad Fur Day was, imho, the best game on N64... swearing, singing, death and a boss made entirely of poo (was no doubt an inspiration to many later devs who made up boss fights that were shite!)

    it offended me even more that that XB version was censored. ie: The Great Mighty Poo didn't say s**t, it bleeped it out. That was the most offensive thing I had ever heard. So sure it had fresh new graphics, but had ruined everything else. Fools.

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