ATB’s Top 25 Male Characters: (16) Conker T. Squirrel

conker

“Well, here I am! Conker the King… king of all the land! Who’d a thought that? But how did I come to this, you say? And who are those strange fellows that surround my throne? That you also say! Well. It’s a long story. Come closer and I’ll tell you. It all started… yesterday. And what a day that was! It’s what I call… a bad fur day!”

We’re now into the meat and potatoes as the top 25 continues. Tomorrow, our list continues the countdown to the #1 male video game character of all-time on Aug. 31.

16) Conker T. Squirrel (Conker’s Bad Fur Day) – 2 votes/119 points

Shaun: Once upon a time, Conker was a very different squirrel. His inaugural appearance in Diddy Kong Racing was of a goody-two-shoes, fun-loving animal, one who adored life and was innocent to the vile ways of the world. All signs pointed to Conker being the next family friendly face of the gaming company Rare, and even the first versions of Conker’s solo outing was an adventure game with a tone akin to Rare’s other platforming juggernaut, Banjo Kazooie. You just wanted to pinch those little cheeks, and invite him over to babysit your kids.

But then he apparently watched his loved ones get run down or something in Diddy Kong racing, because the innocent squirrel we once knew was changed forever….and probably for the better. Now, he’d bite your face off and laugh about it if you pinched his cheeks, and him babysitting your kids would result in them being used as projectiles launched out of a comically oversized trebuchet.

In short, the upbeat Conker was dead forever, and in its place emerged a sardonic, foul-mouthed, strangely meta replacement.

So maybe it’s just that my sense of humor is SO refined and motherf****** sophisticated, but I never found Conker’s slapstick, potty humor to be particularly funny. And yet, I can’t deny the character’s memorability, and I think that mostly lies in the way he subverts expectations so deftly. Like George R. R. Martin’s numerous plot twists on Game of Thrones that continually (and frustratingly at times) take the story in ways you weren’t expecting, Conker’s very existence as a Mario/Sonic/Spyro/Crash Bandicoot clone that is so very NOT a clone is interesting.

Conker turned the “lovable mascot” on its head, and that alone cements his place in the all-time gaming pantheon.

Chris: Look, I’m just going to be up-front with all of you: I never played Conker’s Bad Fur Day, or anything else with Conker in it. I don’t know why it happened, it just did. So I really don’t know anything about him beyond what the others have mentioned or will mention in this post, other than the fact that he’s a foul-mouthed squirrel in a Nintendo franchise (which is surprising, and would never happen in 2014). I do know that some folks adore him, as evidenced by their disappointment when Conker was used in this year’s E3 to promote another game instead of his own. So…good on you, Conker. Way to make our list.

Joseph: Banjo was a lovable bear who wanted to collect honeycombs and rescue his little sister. How quaint. Conker the Squirrel wished his life was that simple. His world was not a shiny and carefree walk through the forest. He had to fight off hordes of zombies, slog through sewage and deal with foul-mouthed side characters galore. It’s an awful environment in which to have a baby squirrel, but his parents did it anyway.  He’s like the janitor of heroes. Superman wouldn’t do the things Conker does, but someone has to. Conker doesn’t bother being nice and doesn’t enjoy helping out, but he buckles down and does it.

Jason: Oh man, where do I start with Conker? Conker’s Bad Fur Day was the last dying breath of Rare back before they stopped making good games, and it was one of the few games I’ve ever played that really earned its Mature rating. Conker is a character that plays against the stereotype of being a cute and cuddly video game character. He curses, he swears, he brutally murders people… all because people just won’t leave him be. He’s completely aware that he’s in a game too, which only adds to the entertainment value when eventually beats the game’s final boss by blackmailing a developer into giving him weapons and changing the level!

In much the same way that movie actors can ham it up and make a seemingly terrible movie just amazing to watch, Conker makes his game amazing and helped extend the life of the N64. His game was so good, in fact, that they remastered it for the original XBox. Conker will forever be remembered as the cute and cuddly Squirrel who challenged the idea that video games were for kids; and for that alone he deserves a place on this list.

Cary: Man, do I love me some of that crazy, quick-quipping squirrel! There are so many memorable things about Conker’s Bad Fur Day alone (never mind that it was highly successful  M-rated NINTENDO game), but Conker was the glue that bound them together into a mish-mash of insane ridiculousness.

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Honorable Mention

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