At last year's E3 event, fans of Rare's Conker the Squirrel were at once amazed and irritated when the iconic character made a surprising appearance during Microsoft's conference. Waddling on screen with a chainsaw in hand, Conker sawed the Project Spark logo in half, declaring that if no one else was going to make him a new game, then it was up to the fans.
This was in reference to Conker being added to Project Spark as a playable character, included in the upcoming DLC called Conker's Big Reunion. Those awaiting this add-on don't have much longer to wait; in fact, the DLC can probably be downloaded at the time they're reading this.
Conker's Big Reunion for Project Spark is available for download on April 23rd. The add-on retains a similar style of gameplay as the original Nintendo 64 title, and sees Conker on his first completely original, brand new adventure since 2001.
Releasing alongside the new story content are creation tools that can be utilized to create custom-made Conker adventures. The developers of Project Spark, Team Dakota, have made these tools available to specific community members before they were released to everyone else. The result is that there will be 10 user-created levels using the Conker creation tools, which will be released for free in Project Spark to coincide with the launch of the Conker's Big Reunion DLC.
The 10 levels are as follows:
- Bad Fur Day Homage
- Conker's Ball Game
- Conker's Defense
- Conker's Multiplayer Arena
- Conker's Other Bad Day (Tribute)
- Conker's Squirrel on Squirrel Adventure
- Conker's Whack Off
- Conker Rebastered
- Conker vs. Tediz
- The Great Mighty Poo
Out of these, the two that were the most eye-catching were Conker's Multiplayer Arena and Conker vs. Tediz. Conker's Multiplayer Arena is a third-person shooter that also includes a spattering of melee combat. It supports four-player split-screen, and includes multiple characters for selection, including Conker, Birdie the Scarecrow, and even Master Chief. Conker vs. Tediz is a Plants vs. Zombies clone, but with characters from Conker's Bad Fur Day in place of the titular plants and zombies from that popular series.
Conker's Multiplayer Arena and Conker vs. Tediz are showcased, along with the rest of the user-created levels releasing with the DLC, in the latest promotional video for Conker's Big Reunion, found below:
Unfortunately, there is a discerning piece of information in this new video that will probably greatly disappoint fans of the series. Conker's Big Reunion has been slapped with a "T" for "Teen" rating, for crude humor, fantasy violence, and use of alcohol. This is in stark contrast to the tone of the original Conker's Bad Fur Day, which wore its M rating like a badge of honor, and used that badge to separate itself from the multitude of colorful platformers that defined the Nintendo 64 era.
In any case, some Conker, even watered-down Conker, is better than no Conker at all. Furthermore, it's entirely possible that Conker's Big Reunion is a way for Microsoft to see if a full-fledged sequel would be viable.
Microsoft's new found interest in using Rare's IPs is evident in other areas as well, though again, not in the form of actual sequels or reboots like fans have been asking for. Instead of making a new Battletoads game like Phil Spencer hinted, the characters are simply being added to the Xbox version of Shovel Knight as playable characters. Instead of a new, traditional platforming Banjo-Kazooie game, the current rumor is that Microsoft is licensing out the bird and the bear to star in their own Disney-produced animated feature.
There's still hope for these IPs to receive proper revivals, though. Phil Spencer has proven that he is in touch with the Xbox fan base, and has done a great job of repairing public relations for the Xbox One, cleaning up the sticky situation left by his predecessors. He is certainly aware that there is fan demand for these games, and at E3 Microsoft is planning on showcasing new IP and focusing on first-party titles, the latter of which could very well be these Rare revivals. This is made even more possible by the fact that we have no idea what Rare is currently working on, as the last game they put out was Kinect Sports Rivals in 2014.
Project Spark is available as a both a free and paid download on PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The first episode of Conker's Big Reunion will be available on April 23rd. The story content can be purchased by itself for $4.99, or for $9.99, players can receive the first story episode, the Conker creation tools, and a bonus game mode.