With the recent trademark update from Ubisoft on the Beyond Good and Evil series name, I couldn’t help but remember the recent rumour that Ubisoft and Nintendo were working towards a deal where the long awaited Beyond Good and Evil 2 (BGE2) would release as an NX exclusive, backed with Nintendo’s funding. BGE2 was revealed back in 2008 and was expected to release on PS3 and Xbox 360. Other than a teaser trailer there hasn’t been anything officially announced since then other than the series director Michel Ancel discussions suggesting it’s still in the works. This would be a good sign for Nintendo fans who have struggled with Nintendo’s recent consoles serious lack of 3rd party support. With Ubisoft, EA and other major publishers pulling the rug out of major projects heading to Nintendo consoles, fans have all but lost faith that ‘unprecedented partnerships’ will deliver. So with a major Ubisoft-Nintendo partnership rumoured, I couldn’t help but think of the two companys’ most recent joint kerfuffle.
I recall back to the time when Rayman Legends was announced to be a Wii U exclusive. Unfortunately for Ubisoft at the time, I really hadn’t enjoyed what I had played of Rayman Origins on Wii and 3DS (though that was to change when the Origins hit the Vita PS+) so its major competitor, New Super Mario Bros. U (NSMBU) looked a hell of a lot more enticing. It was just weeks before Rayman Legends was supposed to launch that Ubisoft announced the title was being delayed for 6 months to August 2013 and would be releasing on Xbox 360, PS3, PC and PS Vita. Of note, the game remained Wii U exclusive in Japan. The game has since been ported to the Xbox One and PS4 consoles, Wii U’s current gen competitors. According to VGChartz.com, Rayman Legends has sold over 3million units across all platforms and, despite its later release, PS4 sales top Wii U sales, with PS3 sales coming in third. Roughly 700K units of those were on Wii U.
The best side-scrolling platformer on the market
Noteably Rayman Legends was a 2D platformer with direct competition from a Mario Bros. game, arguably the MacDaddy of 2D platformer series. Myself along with many, many people who have open-mindedly played a large variety of games will tell you that Rayman Legends was a superior game to NSMBU. However, Mario’s side-scrolling outing has racked up 5M units sold since its launch alongside the Wii U in late 2012 (though it’s worth noting that NSMBU was officially bundled with the Wii U for multiple months).
So now let’s get to the real meat in the sandwich; the turkey that is how BGE2 is rumoured to be NX exclusive. While it would definitely come as an excellent sign of goodwill from Ubisoft hoping to capture back some of the massive amounts of respect that they’ve lost from Nintendo fans over the last two generations. The first Beyond Good and Evil game was a multiplatform title that released on the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube back in 2003. It has seen HD ports for PS3 and Xbox 360. It gathered cult status as a Legend of Zelda-esque game that could be played across multiple platforms.
But this is where we find the turkey is a bit dry; the frequently delayed Legend of Zelda Wii U is expected to be ported to NX. While this is just rumour and speculation, the Gamecube/Wii release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as well as the general silence around the game are enough to leave me thinking it’s entirely possible. So if the BGE2 NX exclusivity rumours are to be believed, Ubisoft should be weary walking down this very familiar road. When it comes to competing in the same genre, directly against Nintendo’s 1st party games, it doesn’t often end well. Even when factoring in that Nintendo is providing financial assistance, Beyond Good and Evil as an IP could be damaged by being thrown into competition with Zelda. Who would buy Rabbids Land when Nintendo Land was bundled with the console and touted superiority in most conceivable ways? Who’d choose Dogz or Puppy World over Nintendogs? With little competition as Nintendo slept at the wheel, Ubisoft’s Rabbids 3D and Rayman 3D briefly enjoyed their niche as competent platformers during 3DS’s launch. But if your Zelda-itch is scratched during the launch period, it’s not going to be great for BGE2 unless there’s a radical stir-up to the formula. It doesn’t matter if a game’s setting is so remote from another, people’s assumptions get in the way of them access and enjoying really great games, as people are shallow and idiots.
Above: What the NX may look like
Ubisoft’s move to pull Rayman Legends exclusivity and delay the game is arguably down to Ubisoft’s execs fearing the Wii U’s poor adoption rate would lead to significantly poorer sales figures than with previous titles from Rayman, one of their iconic IPs. So unless the NX can provide a massive install base, Ubisoft is walking one of their IPs into a situation that they should know all too well at this point.
And so ends my thoughts on rumours about speculated unrevealed consoles.