The biggest news of the recent Ubidays 2008 press event held last week in Paris turned out to be a teaser trailer for the sequel to 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil. It’s safe to say that no one saw this coming. The original game tanked at the cash register in competition with familiar names and faces released at about the same time including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, so you might expect that Michel Ancel’s cross-platform action-adventure game would be regarded by Ubisoft along the same lines as poison ivy or syphilis.
Above: Welcome to downtown Hillys
Which, actually, it was. Michel Ancel had intended BG&E to be a trilogy, but Ubisoft decided to leave it a uni-gy and Ancel went on to make Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie (Peter Jackson personally selected Ancel to head the project because he was a fan of - you guessed it - Beyond Good & Evil) and work on Rayman Raving Rabbids instead. But in the meantime, BG&E accumulated a strong cult following, particularly after the game was added to Steam for less than ten bucks.
While Beyond Good & Evil received excellent review scores that ranged from the low eighties to the low nineties (out of 100), if anything, it appears to have been underrated, as the teaser trailer for the sequel led to hundreds of forum posts in all caps that amounted to pretty much the word "yay" and "omg!" repeated ad infinitum. So, given that the main character’s bra cup size appears entirely proportional to her body and the game’s complete lack of machine guns, hookers, and celebrity voiceovers, what exactly did Ancel’s game offer that captured so many hearts and minds?
Let’s take a look.
A Pig in Jet Boots
A story-driven game that doesn’t give you characters that you can care about is a game with big problems. Beyond Good & Evil gave us “Uncle” Pey’j, Jade’s portly companion throughout the game who can be seen snorting flies in the teaser trailer shown at the Ubidays press event.
Above: Bringing home the bacon
OK, technically, he’s not a pig. He’s more like a boar. Whatever. A friend of Jade’s late father, Pey’j is friend and confidante to Jade, as well as a mechanic, handyman, and inventor (he wears homemade jet boots!). From the game’s first minutes, Pey’j demonstrates all the qualities of your very best friend: He’s funny, loyal, observant, understanding, kind, and he isn’t above giving you the occasional sass or dressing-down when you need it. Backed up by the funniest and most spot-on voice acting this side of Glottis from Grim Fandango, Pey’j’s curmudgeonly companionship puts some serious urgency later on in the game when his fate becomes linked with Jade’s mission.
Above: The picture says it all