Beyond Good & Evil HD: 'It's still great by today's standards'

Associate producer talks good and evil...

You probably haven't played Beyond Good & Evil, which also means you haven't played one of best adventure games released last generation - and for some people - of all time.

Michel Ancel's BG&E was originally released in 2003 for the PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube. Despite critical acclaim the title's sales performance was poor.

The release of a high-definition remake for Xbox Live Arcade is the perfect chance to put all that right. We had a chat about the title with Associate producer Eric Damian-Vernet.

How does it feel to revive Beyond Good & Evil for a new generation of gamers?

It feels great! A lot of games become obsolete the day they're released, but BG&E and games such as Nintendo's classics and Team Ico's titles are different.

They have this timeless quality because there is more to them than a set of trendy features. When it was released over seven years ago, BG&E stood out with its immersive story and strong characterisation, the richness of the world...

These are qualities that are never going to be outdated. BG&E is still a great game by today's standards.

Ubisoft has a vast library of games. What made BG&E a candidate for an HD remake?

AI think very few games actually qualify for a re-release. Take any last-gen driving sims or shooters, for instance. No matter how hard you try to make them presentable, they still feel dated.

There are so many better options available today, so why would you go back to playing these, besides nostalgia?

On the other hand, there aren't many quality sci-fi/fantasy adventure games on the market these days, and the adventure genre hasn't evolved that much in comparison to other genres. And because of its distinct art style, BG&E has aged much better than games with realistic art.

How much work goes into converting an old game into HD compared to developing an entirely new title?

I would compare it to restoring a painting. You have to go back in time and adopt the mindset of when it was made. You're not there to rewrite history, but to deliver an experience that is both faithful to the original and engaging for modern audiences.

You constantly have to ask yourself if adding this potentially cool feature is really a good idea and if it will improve the experience without losing part of what makes the original.

BG&E was well-received critically, but perhaps didn't sell as well as it should have. Why do you think that is?

Partly because of the market conditions and the competition, and partly because the game was hard to understand.

We never really succeeded in explaining the experience well - BG&E deals with mature themes yet it looks cartoony. There's more to the game than meets the eye.

How do you think BG&E has helped to shape other games since its release?

BG&E was at the forefront of games becoming more and more cinematic and movie-like. Back in 2003, displaying movie qualities and using Hollywood tricks was quite groundbreaking. Now it has become a mainstay of modern games.

There's a very timely political undercurrent to BG&E. Was this just a fortunate by-product of story or was it a conscious attempt at social commentary?

We always intended to touch on more mature subjects that would speak to adults. Indeed, the game's political undertones remain very relevant today: Hillys has Jade and the Iris network, we have Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

On the other hand, although the game can be dark and serious it ultimately possesses an optimistic tone. It's packed with light-hearted humour and never gets depressing or sanctimonious.

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