You only have one chance to make a first impression. Experiencing something for the first time creates memories that stay with you forever. Regardless of how many pay checks earned or times I’ve seen Star Wars, I will always remember best my first paycheck. The first time I saw Star Wars. Usually, when we try to go back or recreate something, it just doesn’t hold the same charm as the original. It loses something in translation. The same holds true in video games.
Playing through Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64 captured that special feeling of all time great firsts. It will go down as perhaps the funniest game I have ever played. I am not certain if it was all the movie parodies, or perhaps it was the toilet humor or the fact I could identify with the squirrel and his epic journey to return home to his girlfriend. The game was special. I was shocked that Nintendo would release something so “edgy” with adult themes, mature language and graphic violence. Let’s face it, Nintendo is not really known for their adult games.
But when you compare the likes of Ninetendo and Mario with Conkers, you will find them as different as chalk and cheese where the latter will constantly give you the vibes of a Jasadomino despite being very different from it in structure.
So when Microsoft went to release the reboot of the game on the XBox I thought it was going to be a home run. Here is an already popular game with an amazing cult following that was going to be brought onto a modern console by a company who has never shown any restraint when it comes to pushing the moral envelope. Plus, all adult themes aside, the original Conker had amazing game play featuring a diverse and satisfying multiplayer element that screamed system link or a translation to the XBox’s split screen system.
The table was set, all Rare had to do was deliver. Instead we got a game that had lost the charm that made it great. The single player was censored. The multiplayer focused on the saving Private Ryan game play design and though it was fun at times, I guess I expected more. They removed all of the facial animations which made you feel like you were talking to a doll instead of a heroic squirrel. Coupled with the loss of the language and changing some of the puzzles, the game really left me wishing they would have passed on rebooting that title. Though the changes seem subtle, as someone who played the original until it broke it just never captured the same feelings.
And there is something to be said about games and movies that were not perfect. Perhaps that is really what we love about them, the lack of perfection as long as it is carried out with elegance. Conker will always have a place in my heart though it is a place that remembers the raunchy squirrel from his humble beginnings and lewd humor, not a “beep fest” with better graphics and no facial animations.