Thursday, 20 February 2014

Why I love Conker's Bad Fur Day

(I was gonna do this as a video, narrating it, as a subtle jab to another video I don't even deem worthy of watching -- but my dumb deep Dutch vocal chords don't allow me to do anything without sounding like a complete moron. Boo hiss.)

Conker's Bad Fur Day was my most favourite thing three years ago. The game was so dear to me because it was made by Rare - I'm betting that if Rare had no involvement, I never would've picked up the game in the first place.

Truth to be told, violent and/or questionable things couldn't interest me less at the time. I got into some anime about dogs killing each other... because it was about dogs. Similarly, I got into Conker because he wasn't some buff, muscular, middle-aged guy, but instead, a cute little squirrel.

Well, really, that's the catch; he looks cute and fuzzy, but in reality, he's got a severe drinking problem and ends up depressed.

The thing that made me interested in the franchise again, was the emotional growth of his character in the game. It is, compared to Rare's other works, really something different but all the more impressive. It's a funny game with a lot of hilarious, memorable parts and movie/game parodies, but the emotional part is, in my opinion, overlooked.

He starts out lost in the woods with a raging hangover. After a drunken scarecrow helps him to his feet again, he just wants to go home again. But going home isn't the option now - he travels through many weird locations, and, on the way, earns a lot of money by doing random favours for strangers. At the same time, he changes a lot as well. Whereas at first he's okay with everything that happens and is even friendly to some characters, as the game goes on he grows more bitter and jaded and doesn't shy away from doing more questionable things for his dear money.

Truth is, he's got his reasons. The world around him seems to either toy around with him, or hate him. Even his money cusses him out. Conker in his bad fur day is a far cry from his youthful self in Diddy Kong Racing.
So, almost at the end of the game, and the deepest low he achieves is robbing a bank together with his girlfriend for a sneaky mob boss.

And that is where it all turns around.
Berri ruthlessly gets mowed down by that mob boss weasel's gun. She breathes her last breath in Conker's arms, while he shakes her body, coaxing her to wake up. But she doesn't, and later gets sucked out of an air lock ('cause they're in space for some reason.) Conker's awesome quote of "get away from her, you bitch!" towards the Alien threatening her, doesn't amount to much.

The final battle happens but WHOOPS, lock-up! He talks with the programmer in a glorious act of fourth-wall-breakage, gets rid of the final boss, and ends up in the throne room. All the morons he's met during his journey are proud of him and crown him king. They're all elated. Except for Conker.
Conker thinks; "Oh crap."

Conker finally realizes just what a monster he had become. In a final act of materialism, fatigued by the decisions he took on his journey, he chose a bunch of weapons to slay the beast over the love of his life. And the programmer was already gone.
On his throne, the depressed red squirrel recites just what he only now realizes, looking up at the viewer with that glare of his one more time before it fades out.

"You don't know what it is you have until it's gone. Gone.

And the game ends. A depressing final ending. And oh, how it went horribly wrong. No big wonder Conker originally comitted suicide in the original ending of the game at some point.

Whereas the game started out as goofy and comedic, it took a sudden dramatic turn where we really began to understand Conker and how he became more and more rotten by every decision he made, and how much he screwed up at the end.

This, along with the fact that Conker's Bad Fur Day is the second-to-last big game Rare ever released for Nintendo on a home console, and maybe that fact makes it ironic -- just makes it hit really hard.

That's also why I'm slightly bothered that so many fan fiction casually brings Berri back to life, even if it isn't impossible in-universe. In my opinion, that completely ignores the perfect ending. I said 'fan fiction', but I have the strong feeling that if there was a sequel to Bad Fur Day, it would end up similarly.

It might be hard to miss, but it was noted one time that "it'll end in tears!" and really, did Conker and Berri even seem like they really loved each other? Maybe they once did, but they certainly didn't seem like it in the game.
Should she come back, it doesn't doubt me that Conker would mess up again. (I also had a dream recently that explored their relationship - how I see it, but alas, it was a dream. It seemed like canon, but it was merely a dream. Also, Conker x Pipsy = OTP for life yo.)

That ending just really made an impact to me.
Maybe there's media that does it better, but it doesn't have a cute fuzzy squirrel as its protagonist, I'm sure.

And that's why I love this game.

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