Intrepid explorers of code posting on Neogaf have reported the finding of a few unlisted programs on the Microsoft Store. One, an app called ‘HoloStudio’, with it’s nature yet unknown. In the games category, something called ‘Fragments‘ with a Mature rating, and, intriguingly, one titled ‘Young Conker‘.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind with the name Conker in the context of gaming is the raunchy N64 favorite from now-necrotic Rare, Conker’s Bad Fur Day. However, aside from the name, there is no actual indication about the nature of the game except for it’s rating , which is ‘teen’. Bad Fur Day, rather, held a ‘mature’ rating, a rarity on the family-friendly N64. Microsoft owns the remnants of Rare that it keeps coated in preservatives, and their respective IPs including Conker.
Though there have long been calls for a continuation of the series, the last anyone heard of Conker was in Microsoft’s Project Spark, a game creation utility which saw limited success. Several Conker assets were added for use by players, and an episodic series called Conker’s Big Reunion, made by several former Rare employees, was begun within Project Spark. Set after the events of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, the series and assets were seen more as a cynical attempt to bolster an anemic product with proven IP rather than an earnest try at reviving Conker. Ultimately, Reunion was cancelled as Spark‘s commercial failure forced the utility into moving to a free-to-play model.
Less known is Conker’s history as a cutesy animal-themed adventure game on the Game Boy Color in Conker’s Pocket Tales. More like a children’s game than the later iterations, it more fits a ‘teen’ rating than any other Conker property. It was that cloying kid-friendliness which inspired the more blue depiction of Conker in his second game; the dissonance of a cartoonish world with sleazy overtones has become it’s trademark character.
With Rare existing as a “zombie studio” under Microsoft, they are mostly used to either churn out forgettable Kinect games or exploit their IPs in service to XBox consoles. Aside from the embarrassing Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and such titles as Kinect Sports, Rare have most recently been used to release the Rare Replay compilation. A collection of classic Rare games emulated and touched up for the XBox One, it seems more like exsanguinating the studio then letting them show their full potential. It’s possible that the mysterious ‘Young Conker‘ is another iteration of this latest exploitation, bringing back or remaking Conker’s Pocket Tales in the same vein of Rare Replay.
Speculation as to the nature of these programs abounds on Neogaf, but little can be concluded as of yet. In truth, the game may not even involve Rare’s Conker IP. If it does, and the game isn’t just a cash-in on a name and nostalgia but Rare actually being given enough free reign to develop something, even just within the purview of reinventing an old Game Boy title, then it could end up being something worth keeping an eye on. The only other signs of life from Rare is Sea of Thieves, a multiplayer collaborative title still without even a tentative release date. Whether that will be more Banjo-Kazooie or Kinect Sports remains to be seen, but these latest hints from Microsoft could presage more content from Rare in the future.
Credit to shagg_187 of Neogaf for images used, and other posters for their efforts.