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Beyond Good & Evil 20th Anniversary Edition (Switch eShop) Review

by Zachary Miller - July 3, 2024, 12:10 am EDT
Total comments: 3


One of my favorite GameCube games gets a loving refurb.

Beyond Good & Evil is a wonderful 2003 Ubisoft game that I love wholeheartedly (as did Mike Sklens back in 2004). I had it on the GameCube, of course, and played through it multiple times. Much later, I bought it on the Xbox 360 and played through it again, enjoying the HD-ified graphics upgrade, but I have not revisited the title since. Back in 2017, you might remember that Ubisoft announced Beyond Good & Evil 2 during their E3 presentation, but of course it’s not reappeared since, and I wonder if it will amount to any more than the brief 2008 and 2009 trailers they’d shown.

At any rate, this year, they decided to release a 20th Anniversary Edition, which, in fairness, is more of a 21st Anniversary Edition. I’m not convinced it’s much of a graphical update–Uncle Pey’j has a bit of a sheen to him, but overall the graphics seem the same as the previously-released HD remaster (I'd need John Rairdin to tell me otherwise). There are, however, new cosmetic unlocks and a sizeable gallery documenting the pre-production and production of the game, including tons of concept art, some short videos, and lots of annotations. It also includes a “Speed Run” mode, which is not my cup of tea, but I know a certain percentage of you will enjoy it.

If you’ve never played Beyond Good & Evil, here’s the elevator pitch: you play as plucky photojournalist Jade, who, along with her pigman uncle, Pey’J, maintains a lighthouse that doubles as a home for orphans whose parents were kidnapped by DomZ aliens, who have invaded the planet Hillys. The DomZ are ineffectively opposed by the military Alpha Sections, and early in the game, Jade is contacted by the IRIS Network, an underground revolutionary group who believe the Alpha Sections are helping the DomZ kidnap Hillys’ citizens.

In practice, BG&E plays out like a simplistic Zelda game. Jade travels around Hillys on a hovercraft that can be upgraded at a local parts shop (Mamago’s, run by Rastafarian rhinos). Once docked, Jade runs around, solving simple environmental puzzles and attacking enemies with her bo staff. She will usually have a companion with her, either her uncle Pey’J, who can use a ground pound in combat and a cutting wrench to break grates, or IRIS agent Double H, who smashes things in combat and knocks iron bars down. All the while, Jade is on the lookout for new animals to photograph and Pearls to collect, which buy Mamago parts.

The four “dungeons” feature a lot of combat and/or sneaking, which has a certain Metal Gear Solid feel to it. Jade will have to sneak past a lot of guards after noting their movement patterns, or hide behind boxes as they move down a conveyor belt, or create distractions to divert attention away from her exit. With some guards, she can kick or shoot their air tanks to disable them, but as the game progresses, the air tanks disappear and insta-kill laser guns start to populate high-security areas, which does make some areas more frustrating than others in that you don’t have a lot of room for trial & error. There’s not much to the combat–pressing Y a lot results in combos, and Jade can activate a (shockingly ineffectual) charge attack by holding Y. She eventually gets the ability to fire little energy disks, mostly at environmental objects, but also at enemies.

Back in 2003, I was impressed with BG&E’s story: Jade as the plucky reporter taking pictures of Alpha Sections contraband and helping rouse a revolution among Hillys’ citizens. Nowadays, I find it a bit simplistic but still entertaining. I was disappointed to realize that a lot of the emotional beats now fall rather flat because Jade’s expressions are nearly nonexistent, so while her voice actress (Jodi Forrest) is clearly emoting, Jade herself is just kind of staring vacantly. Oddly, the same is not true for her uncle, Pey’J. David Gasman puts a lot of heart into his performance, and Pey’J, perhaps due to his exaggerated pig face, is better able to match Gasman’s intention. Even Double H, a fellow human who has his own unique look, is more expressive than our heroine.

The thing about BG&E is that no single part of it is outstanding. The combat is simplistic, lacks a lock-on, and Jade’s charge attack is weirdly underpowered, if not downright useless. The dungeon exploration is on par with something like Wind Waker but without that game’s interconnected map design or building-on-top-of-each-other puzzles. Hovercraft control is imprecise, mostly because you’re on water, but any time you’re expected to steer with any kind of accuracy (like the “looter” sequences and the hovercraft races), things get hairy and frustrating. The lighting in certain areas is just plain bad, so it can be hard to see where you can go (and there is no brightness setting in the options menu).

It’s all true, but what BG&E lacks in precision, it makes up for in heart. Even if it’s hard to tell how Jade is feeling at all times, I found myself connecting with her story, her band of sidekicks, and the IRIS network. The character designs are unique and charming, the writing is wonderful, the voice acting is generally great. BG&E is never boring, and it goes by pretty quickly.

This 20th Anniversary Edition includes a few interesting wrinkles: there’s a subquest involving trinkets and character biographies connecting BG&E to its hypothetical prequel, BG&E2, a game that might never see the light of day. It does, however, include a number of fun cosmetic items (also found in a couple other places in the game) which allow Jade, Pey’J, Double H, and their vehicles different costumes or paint schemes.

More importantly, this anniversary collection includes a substantial production gallery, from conception to final release. You’ll find a wealth of concept art, demo videos, and more–most with annotations–which document pretty much every part of development, including a lot of cut content. I was amazed at how many of the assets were formed early in development without going through much change. The story, however, took several interesting turns, and Jade herself changed substantially throughout development. My one criticism is that most of the videos retain their native resolution...from 20 years ago, so they look pretty rough compared to everything around them.

That concept gallery is what makes this 20th Anniversary Edition worthwhile, at least for me. It’s great seeing so much behind-the-scenes information about one of my favorite Zelda-likes. I can’t really vouch for the graphical upgrade, and the link between BG&E to BG&E2 would be more interesting if the latter’s fate was better known, bur right now, it's Schrodinger's prequel. At best, it’s a hint of things that may come to fruition. At worst, it’s a painful reminder of the excitement I felt in 2017 and the sorrow I feel now when I think of that game.

But the base game, Beyond Good & Evil, is still a great time. Parts of its design feel dated today, sure, but considering this game is 21 years old, it holds up remarkably well. I was happy to be reminded of one of my favorite GameCube games and its eclectic cast of characters, and I can only hope that they will live on in some future Ubisoft game.


  • A great excuse to revisit a classic GameCube Zelda-like
  • Gameplay holds up surprisingly well, and the cast hasn't lost a step
  • Great music (Akuda Bar!) and vocal performances
  • New costumes are fun and the gallery is stupendous
  • Genuinely tough to find all the animals without a FAQ
  • Maps aren't always super clear
  • Some surprisingly frustrating moments
  • The unknown status of BG&E2 mars what could be a meaningful subquest



M.K.UltraJuly 03, 2024

I plan to get the Limited Run version of this when it comes out. That will be the 22nd Anniversary Edition :D

DigitalGreenTeaJuly 03, 2024

I've never played the original release, so I'm considering getting this on Switch. Zelda-like gameplay with an unusual setting and story sounds like a fun time based on what I've read here.

BeautifulShyJuly 08, 2024

I played a little bit of this on Steam but got stuck early on.  I think it was more of a controller issue than anything else.

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Game Profile

Genre Action
Developer Ubisoft

Worldwide Releases

na: Beyond Good & Evil 20th Anniversary Edition
Release Jun 25, 2024
RatingEveryone 10+
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