Beyond Good & Evil HD
Genres: Action, Adventure
Posted By Austin Yorski about 3 months, 1 week ago
It’s been 10 years since Ubisoft release Beyond Good and Evil. The game infamously bombed, but the adventure of intrepid journalist Jade and comic relief pig-man Pey’j are now widely (and rightly) regarded as a cult favorite. I recently played through the whole thing–beginning to end–and was blown away by how well it still holds up. In fact, I enjoyed it considerably more than the AAA blockbusters I reviewed around the same time. But if the gameplay and writing have managed to stand the test of time, then the music has aged like a fine wine.
The soundtrack was composed by Christophe Héral, whom you may remember as the genius behind the music of Rayman Origins, which we previously covered. Here you can see where he began his trademark gibberish vocals, although there are some real words thrown around from time to time. Notably, “Fun and Mini-Games” (above) is entirely in Spanish, although Héral’s French accent makes it hard to understand what he is saying.
Multiculturalism is actually an important connecting thread between the pieces of Beyond Good and Evil‘s soundscape. From the broken Bulgarian in “Propaganda” (below) to the reggae influences in “Mammago’s Garage,” the OST is as diverse as the game’s cast of alien creatures. This patchwork quilt of instrumentation and lyrics gives the planet of Hillys a flavor that is simultaneous exotic and familiar. It is wonderful.
There are also some darkier and moodier tracks as well. “Dancing With DomZ” utilizes a fictional alien language with intentionally harsh and guttural sounds to unsettle the listenter, while “Metal Gear DomZ” incorporates recordings of a kid playing with scrap metal to give it a harsh quality. Some of these songs sound like they belong to an entirely different game than the other upbeat numbers, but there is no disconnect whilst in-game, just as the cartoon art style doesn’t detract from the darker moments of the plot.
Among the more interesting trivia associated with Beyond Good and Evil is the fact that a composition was ultimately cut from the game due to the September 11th terrorist attacks. The song was called “Funky Mullah” and it featured muezzin vocal samples, which were deemed inappropriate in light of the religious aspect of the hijackings. It was replaced by the aforementioned “Propaganda,” which, interestingly enough, also comes with its own sampled voice story. Apparently Héral recorded the female Bulgarian lyrics during a phone call with a friend, instead of doing it in a studio. The resulting audio quality is reportedly meant to evoke Cold War Soviet propaganda.
It’s rare that the story of a soundtrack’s creation is as interesting as the game’s story itself, but Beyond Good and Evil isn’t your ordinary work of art. Between its troubled development and the interminable wait for a sequel, it is unsurprising that there is so much to talk about. Hopefully there comes a day when Ubisoft lets Michel Ancel finish his planned trilogy. Until then, we must be content with only a single great game and its collection of tunes.
Music Mondays is a weekly column by Austin Yorski and Robert Heck dedicated to discussing the most interesting audio experiences in electronic interactive media. Tune in every week for more original game soundtracks that you need to hear. Feel free to disagree with, add to, or question everything. I welcome your feedback.