Conker's Bad Fur Day is famous for its bad language, adult themes and profusion of poo, but it didn't start life as a mature-rated piece of software. Originally intended as a direct sequel to the cute and cuddly Game Boy Color title Conker's Pocket Tales, the game was started under the title Twelve Tails: Conker 64 and featured none of the adult themes that made the final version so infamous.
Chris Seavor - who left Rare last year - has spoken to our friends over at Eurogamer about the development of the game, its critical and commercial response and his time with the esteemed UK development studio, which is now part of the Microsoft family.
Regarding Conker, he said:
I did bits and bobs of work for this that and the other, and then we started doing Conker Twelve Tails, and then that all fell apart. I had an idea with that, so I took that, went to Chris and said, what about this? Let's make Conker a bit more mature and do something different with it? He said, great, go for it - not expecting much I imagine. Two years later we released it and it was critically acclaimed but not strong in sales, but there you go.
It was. It was quite a brave move I thought. I was surprised when they said yeah, okay. There are some bits in it where I look back now and I go, oh god, I don't know how we got away with that. I think Live & Reloaded [the sequel for the Xbox] was more dumbed down than the original Nintendo one, which is ironic.
I was quite happy with what it sold. But at the time other games at Rare were selling upwards of five, six million units, and you were being compared to that. So you get a game that sells a million, which by nowadays standards I'd say is pretty good, back then it was like, oh, it's only sold a million. Christ! We were up against stuff like Diddy Kong Racing, which sold immense amounts. Even Perfect Dark. So it got eclipsed a little bit. But the fan base was really strong. My name became associated with the character. Within that community it was quite a good thing.
Following the company's acquisition by Microsoft, Seavor found that his iconic creation was in contention for a remake, although he has mixed feelings about Conker: Live and Reloaded and admits he wishes he had done a proper sequel instead:
We did a few other prototypes that didn't come to much, and I did some graphics work on the side just within the company, because that's what I started doing, it wasn't design. And then Microsoft came along and said here's a load of money, we're going to do stuff now. And somehow we ended up doing Live & Reloaded. I'm still not sure how that happened. I'm still not sure that we shouldn't have done Conker 2. In fact I'm certain we should have done...it would have been a straight sequel. It would have been the day after or the week after. I designed quite a lot of it. The story is all done. That was all nailed.
The interview also touches upon another beloved Rare franchise - the fighting game Killer Instinct. Seavor is confident that a third game would find a receptive audience:
Killer Instinct, they've still got that. There's definitely a market for that game. XBLA for the original game, just tart it up a bit, stick some nice 3D graphics, keep the gameplay exactly the same. That would sell. I'm absolutely certain of it. But it's whether they'll just do it or not. I know what I'd do if I was in charge of the place, but I'm not. So we'll have to see where it's going.
You can read the full interview here - and you really should, it's an excellent read.