Throwback Thursday: A Look Back At ‘Beyond Good & Evil’ (VIDEO)
On December 2, 2003, Beyond Good & Evil released for the original Xbox. The Ubisoft-developed action title featured a standout space adventure, following a young photojournalist and her anthropomorphic pig pal as they investigate a looming alien occupation. Upon release, the game received high marks for its interesting story, lovable characters, and thrilling music, and continues to have an immense fan response to this day.
Beyond Good & Evil saw its origins in Rayman creator Michel Ancel, who was looking to craft a fresh gaming experience different from his previous pursuits. Codenamed “Project BG&E,” the eventual project took place over a three year period with Ancel presiding over a team of thirty at Ubisoft. When designing the game’s sprawling alien environment, devs approached from the perspective of an explorer, hoping to emulate a sense of limitless freedom when traversing the game’s various locations.
Another focus was tying the immersive locales to a worthwhile story, with main inspiration coming from the animated works of Hayao Miyazaki and the emerging post-9/11 political climate. Beyond Good & Evil follows a somewhat linear gameplay structure, a choice Ancel figured would better portray the story’s considerably cinematic themes. Composer Christophe Héral echoed this movie-like quality by incorporating a large variety of instruments and global languages in the game’s sweeping soundtrack.
Beyond Good & Evil went through a major overhaul following its first showcase at E3 2002. The ambitious title was not received well at the event, prompting the humbled team to streamline their project into something with much more mainstream appeal. The biggest changes included reworking the game’s then-teenage protagonist and significantly shortening the extended exploration segments. Beforehand, gameplay is said to have resembled another large-scale title: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
Players follow Jade, a young photojournalist who resides on the remote mining world of Hillys in the year 2435. The story begins in the midst of alien war between the invading “DomZ,” and the elite mercenary force, the Alpha Sections. After a growing number of inhabitants disappear during the ongoing crisis, Jade is recruited by the underground IRIS Network, to investigate whether the Alpha Sections may have been to blame. As events unfold, its revealed that an even bigger power is at play, connecting the DomZ to the widespread kidnappings, and even Jade herself.
The gameplay of Beyond Good & Evil mainly pulls from the action-adventure genre, with a smaller emphasis on stealth and puzzle-solving. To combat enemy encounters, Jade employs a staff as her main weapon with projectile disks employed for ranged attacks. She also makes use of her trusty camera to obtain evidence and often becomes useful in advancing the plot. Players operate an upgradable hovercraft to navigate the game world, and eventually upgrade to a spaceship when travelling to other planets.
On several occasions, players will need to cooperate with side-characters to progress in the game. Allies such as Pey’j, Jade’s humanoid boar caretaker, have unique puzzle-solving abilities and special attacks to aid players in battle . Pey’j, for example, can open closed pathways using his expert mechanic abilities. NPCs found in open world segments can also offer sub-missions for players to complete and fun mini-games to play.
It was always Michel Ancel’s intention to see a follow up to Beyond Good & Evil, but plans for the sequel were put on hold following poor sales. The game would go on to build an “underrated” reputation over the years, leading to an HD remaster of the original for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, featuring updated visuals and sound. Ubisoft finally confirmed development on a follow-up game titled Beyond Good & Evil 2 in 2008. The upcoming prequel recently featured at E3 2017, this time receiving a much more upbeat reception.
What’s your opinion of Beyond Good & Evil? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another title from gaming past.
Eric Hall2635 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his biweekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.