By Bryan Smith on August 29, 2015 at 8:50pm
So “Rare Replay” has been released. Thirty games for thirty bucks. A pretty darn good deal, if I were to say so. We got “Banjo-Kazooie,” “Perfect Dark,” “Jet Force Gemini,” “Battletoads,” and more. The best thing in this game, however, is the ability to play the original “Conker’s Bad Fur Day-” as in the Nintendo 64 version. Rare celebrating thirty years is a charming thing. However, this doesn’t negate the sour taste of Microsoft buying out Rare. Seeing cutouts of old beloved games and characters being used by people who haven’t properly utilized them before gives me a bit of a sad feeling. “Rare Replay” is still pretty great though.
If we were to look at Rare’s history (not including games Nintendo has complete control of), the last game under Nintendo was “Conker’s Bad Fur Day.” Going by “Rare Replay,” Rare only had seven games since 2003 and three of those titles are… shall we say, very negatively looked upon in one way or another. I’m surprised that “Conker: Live and Reloaded” wasn’t included at all. I think it may have been to round out the numbers to 30 (and possibly for future content). Heck, “Jetpac” has its original and the remake version of itself, so… what gives here?
The obvious reason why a lot more people are excited and happy to see the N64 version of Conker being used is because it had a lot more heart and soul put into it. For the time, there was absolutely nothing, and I do mean nothing, like “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” before. Nintendo shat the bed when the original N64 Conker game “Conker’s Quest/Twelve Tales: Conker 64” got turned into this vulgar, ultra violent, sexual, mature game. Ads were shoved to adult magazines and showings and Nintendo refused to acknowledge the game in its Nintendo Power (rest in piece, good service). To this day, nothing has reached what Conker did back in 2001 and I doubt we’ll ever see anything like it again, especially how Microsoft approached “Conker: Live and Reloaded.”
So let’s get into some backstory for how the remake came to being. Obvious Microsoft buyout happened. However, Rare began development for the sequel for “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” referred to as “Conker’s Other Bad Day.” Sadly the buyout didn’t exactly let Rare go with the sequel. Microsoft wanted a remake of the original game, presumably since Xbox was the “big kids’” console and a mature title like “CBFD” would have showcased that. Oh how hindsight is a cruel temptress. What’s more interesting is that the remake was originally titled “Conker: Live and Uncut” with new multiplayer. With the conflicting things I’ve read, however, it seems that “Conker’s Other Bad Day” was supposed to get the new multiplayer that Rare wanted to do but Microsoft told Rare to completely redo the remake, which led to “Conker: Live and Reloaded.” Sad to say, we know where the rest of the story goes…
Now for those not entirely informed, “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” is considered the better game over “Conker: Live and Reloaded,” despite controls being… outdated. Why might that be? Going forward with technology should mean improvements, correct? Oh how I hate when things should be but aren’t. Let’s go over what the N64 version did right and where the Microsoft version falls flat.
Whoever’s decision was to add more censorship to a mature game like this when Nintendo of all company’s had more vulgarity should be shoved up the Great Mighty Poo’s mess plug. I mean how? How does one even think of making one of the biggest draws to “Conker’s Bad Fur Day,” it’s mature adult stuff, more tame? It was supposed to be “UNCUT.” Do you see the “Uncut” over there? Uncut means not censored- no bleeps or black bars. How?!
I think that to best way to rationalize this… bewildering decision is to consider what the people behind the remake where thinking. It seems Microsoft really didn’t understand what made the game special (and by extension what made Rare so special, as well). I hear something along the lines that they feared that retailers wouldn’t sell the game… despite “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” being sold at places like Toys “R” Us and Blockbuster. What really happened behind the curtains we’ll probably never know, considering Microsoft seems rather embarrassed to not even include the game for “Rare Replay.” One thing is certain though- Rare wanted to do many things with Conker, yet Microsoft had other plans for the infamous squirrel.
2. Removal of Challenges and Segments Without Much Else New
Now this isn’t particularly big compared to the censorship thing, but it is noticeable. I don’t see how removing content (let alone censoring crap) constitutes as a good remake. Addition by subtraction is a terrible mentality to go about game design in terms of going from an original game to a sequel or remake. Take a look at the opening segment with the gargoyle that actually adds instead of takes away. He doesn’t go down with a simple frying pan anymore. Conker questions what the hell happened and has to hit him again with a baseball bat to take him down. He even makes a snide remark at the developers to not pull any more surprises. I’d love to say they don’t listen, but… they actually do. Almost nothing else new, save for scarce scattered details, was added except for the online multiplayer.
Before we get into the removal of stuff, can we discuss how much of a big opportunity Rare and Microsoft missed to use the remake angle against Conker? This world is already a dick towards the squirrel to begin with. Why not go further and change things not only for Conker but for us as well? A remake can, and should, add at least a few new things. The amount of new things that are good can be counted on a hand, those being the said scene with the gargoyle, two costumes, a previously edited scene, and a cute little scene during an accidental execution scene… which doesn’t sound cute in retrospective.
Now where did they remove things that weren’t the curse words? It’s some of the challenges, such as the eel in the “It’s War” chapter. The original involved an eel to turn something on. With “Live and Reloaded,” all you do is a turn on a switch. While not a big offender, it felt like the people behind the game, whether it was the developers or the publishers, were trying to dumb down the game, which goes back to the censorship thing. Sure, the whole guess where you need to go thing is still there with the original challenges and gameplay, but it also feels inconsistent. Why not change enough to warrant a remake, aside tweaking the controls and graphics, or not change anything at all? “Live and Reloaded” doesn’t strike that sweet middle of enough change and stay true to the original.
3. Animations Look Soulless
(Note: In context, that picture above should be of shock and doubtful disgust, instead of mild concern. Stupid Sexy Sunflowers)
While the graphics do look nice, the new graphics come at the price of not looking lively. “Mass Effect,” for example, has their human characters look soulless as they try to act at a high school play level (no offense to those in plays during high school) where helmeted characters and robots are capable of emoting at Broadway levels. That kind of animation can be applied here.
Conker looks like a robot programmed to move as opposed to a cartoony red squirrel. He doesn’t emote like he should and did in “Conker’s Bad Fur Day.” This is a cartoony (yet adult) video game, and forfeiting that aspect hinders how characters look. “Live and Reloaded’s” Conker looks like he could fit right in with the cast of “Five Night’s at Freddy’s.” It’s funny (and sad) because the robotic nature of one of Scott Cawthon’s previous games made the cute, cartoony characters look terrifying, thus created “FNAF.” The charm of “Bad Fur Day” came from Rare pushing the N64 to its limit in what it could do, where “Live and Reloaded” looks cheaper and played it safe.
Also, side note, the text bubbles are worse in “Live and Reloaded” too. They scroll down to future dialogue before the characters say them, thus giving away the punchline of certain jokes. This kind of makes the robotic nature of this game look more apparent too, seeing the text and character motions aren’t natural.
4. Removal of Original Multiplayer
This is what many others call the second major offender to “Live and Reloaded.” Microsoft and Rare scrapped the original multiplayer. Many people loved the hectic but fun gameplay of “Bad Fur Day.” It took aspects from the single-player game and just said, “You know what? Have fun with three of your friends and kill each other with dinos, weasels, and squirrels.”
So then comes the “Live and Reloaded” multiplayer. It’s strange because the first trailer showed multiplayer for the original “Bad Fur Day” stuff, as in the first designs of the Tediz and grey squirrels. Of course, this was most likely still under the title “Live and Uncut.” Rare was hoping that the new multiplayer, the one we got for “Live and Reloaded,” would be for “Conker’s Other Bad Day” while the old one would be remade. As we know by now, that didn’t happen.
Now I won’t say the new multiplayer was bad at all. In fact, I think it had a story (a relatively small one at that) where Conker is a legendary hero for the war against the Tediz and the squirrels with new characters and the like. Heck, just look at the box art and you’ll see a new squirrel girl at Conker’s side that obviously doesn’t show up in the single-player. From what I hear, the new multiplayer was actually really liked for the online stuff when the servers were still up. Though come to think of it, this may be a good reason why “Live and Reloaded” wasn’t in “Rare Replay,” seeing they’d have to bring back old servers to play on. The multiplayer was rivaled by only that of the “Halo” series on the Xbox. While I can’t knock the quality of the new multiplayer itself, there’s something that doesn’t sit right. Maybe it’s just… it felt more like “Halo” than a “Conker” game.
I can’t specifically identify the wrong feeling, but I think it may have something to do with Nintendo and Microsoft. I won’t say that everything with Nintendo and Rare at the helm were all masterpieces- just look at “Star Fox Adventures.” The rest of their projects together, however, felt like Nintendo and Rare put all of their heart and soul into their games. It really felt like they had fun out of it. Microsoft, however, doesn’t hit that same vibe with Rare. Remember, “Conker’s Other Bad Day” was the original idea, which I think Nintendo may have allowed (though begrudgingly holding off on it for a while). It’s clear that the relationship between Rare and Microsoft is more “Do this, this, and this or you’ll be in trouble” rather than “Do just about anything you want, you little scamps. Just be home for supper at 5.” The online multiplayer feels more like it was something Microsoft envisioned to be something the “edgy and cool” kids wanted, which “Conker” really isn’t. Also remember, “007 Goldeneye” had multiplayer, but that was a last minute thing Rare decided because they thought it’d be fun. That “edgy and cool” mentality also went into “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts,” which… well, I think JonTron can tell you what want wrong there.
Then there’s “Project Spark” and “Conker’s Big Reunion.” That segment in “Project Sparks” is Rated T for Teens, for those who didn’t know. I think that speaks for itself.
JonTron is just perfect for these Rare analogies!
Up until E3 2015, I believed that Microsoft didn’t have a clue what they want to do with Rare and the IPs stapled to them. With Kinect and the lack of, well, anything, lackluster attempts just made the aspect more painful. Though with “Rare Replay” and “Sea of Thieves,” they may finally understand that Rare is a valuable tool to use. Perhaps instead of mandates that probably went into “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” and “Conker: Live & Reloaded,” letting Rare do its own thing will benefit Microsoft greatly. Heck, we may finally see “Conker’s Other Bad Day” in the future. Or they could just sell Rare back to Nintendo in the same vein of Fox should sell the movie rights to the “Fantastic Four” following “Fant4stic.” However, I have some newfound trust in Microsoft following “Rare Replay” and “Sea of Thieves.”
Funny that “Sea of Thieves.” “Banjo-Kazooie” started off as “Project Dreams,” where it was about pirates. “Sea of Thieves” is also about pirates. This is the tongue-in-cheek stuff Rare is known for. I think we may be onto something here folks.