When Nintendo comes to mind, one of the key things about the company that I think about is that they are a family-friendly developement house; they prefer to develop games that create a specific atmosphere that allows individuals to sit down and play their games with the hopes of not being offended and be fully entertained. For the most part, I believe they achieve this. Whether it’s New Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword or Wii Sports Resort, I can honestly say that anyone of any age group could get some form of entertainment from these titles. When Rare was developing second party games under Nintendo, their development style along with the types of games they developed didn’t differentiate that much from Nintendo’s. The majority of Rare’s games could be enjoyed by nearly anyone and was just as popular as Nintendo’s iconic franchises and in some cases, even more so; whether it was Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong Country, Goldeneye 007 or Diddy Kong Racing, their games were hits for each of their respective systems and this led to an astounding relationship between the two powerhouse companies. There was one game, however, that seemed to put a rift between them however, and that game was Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day wasn’t always the game we know it as today. Before becoming what it is, it was previously titled Twelve Tales: Conker 64 and was going to be your typical platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. Rare decided that there were too many platformers on the system like that already and chose to take Conker in a completely different direction; thus, the humorous and vulgar Conker’s Bad Fur Day was born. It was unique in its style, totally different and most people who have had the privilege to play it absolutely love it. Nintendo on the other hand did not.
Prior to the game’s release and even after, it wasn’t the type of title that Nintendo was very fond of. They hardly marketed it and rarely mentioned it. The tv spot for the game would only air on select channels and no earlier than midnight, Nintendo Power refused to advertise the game and Nintendo of Europe declined to even publish it, leaving those duties to THQ instead. This severe lack of marketing lead to a major decline in sales of what should have surely been another million seller from Rare, despite its adult oriented content.
It’s because of the aforementioned things that I believe that Nintendo had no interest in fully aquiring Rare when the time came to do so. Their excuse was Rare’s titles weren’t selling as well as they used to be and didn’t believe Rare was worth the money required to purchase the additional 51 % of the company that the Stamper Bros. were out to sell; the irony of that situation, however, is that the decline in sales was, as mentioned, due to Nintendo’s lack of marketing their titles! Had Conker been marketed and advertised properly, would it have sold better? Hell yes, it would have. I do not believe that to be the full story though, despite what has been said over the years.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the relationship between Nintendo and Rare was a like a match made in heaven. Rare was just as synonymous with Nintendo as Nintendo was with Rare. People bought Nintendo consoles to play Nintendo games and Rare games. That’s a fact. So when Conker’s Bad Fur Day released, what it did was paint this very negative picture on Nintendo’s ‘family friendly’ image. The vulgarity of the game and its raunchy humor was not what Nintendo is known for and they didn’t want people to surmise that they were becoming something else other than what they had always proclaimed themselves to be. The relationship between Rare and Nintendo could have remained intact as it always had been, but for that to continue would also mean that CBFD would remain a part of it and that family friendly image they’ve always strived for would be compromised. So what was their best option? To break it off and let the ‘woes’ of CBFD become a part of their forgotten past.
Did Conker’s Bad Fur Day really create such a rift in what was once gaming’s greatest developer relationship? Is this the real reason Nintendo declined to aquire their best second party studio? What do you all think?