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The Wonderful Whimsy of Michel Ancel



There are many reasons why people play video games. One of the most common reasons is to escape; to get out of the present world and enter a new one. Certain video games have crafted entire universes that are easy to get lost in. Today, we’ll be focusing on one game developer in particular who is particularly skilled at creating gaming universes full of whimsy and wonder.

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Michel Ancel is a man that one may not know the name of, but many will certainly recognize his work. The French game developer, primarily known as the creator of the Rayman series, has brought a unique personality and charm to the world of video games. Ancel’s gameography primarily consists of the Rayman series, with his other landmark title being Beyond Good and Evil, a multiplatform game released in 2003, and a video game adaption of Peter Jackson’s King Kong, whom he was specifically requested by the director himself to create. Rayman is a long-running platforming series starring the limbless hero known as Rayman, and Beyond Good and Evil is a single game where players control a heroine named Jade in a fantastical quest to unravel a government conspiracy. Excitedly, a sequel to BG&E was just announced at this summer’s 2017 E3, which is being directed by Ancel himself.

What makes Mr. Ancel so noteworthy is the fact that his games are not merely “games” in the traditional sense of the word; rather, they give off an impression more akin to an interactive piece of art. There is a distinct artistic vision that can be both seen and heard in each of his games, frequently through an expressive, colorful soundtrack and wacky, cartoonish characters that burst with personality. The art design of a Michel Ancel game is often just as important as the gameplay itself. His games are chock full of moments where the player could set down the controller, and simply gaze at the marvelous scenery put before them.

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Both Beyond Good and Evil and any entry in the Rayman series could be seen as a playable version of an animated family film, with all of the key features that one may want from the genre. The experiences that he creates are not something that can be easily found in the modern gaming industry. The modern video game world is frequently inhabited by mature experiences that cannot easily appeal to any and everyone, and those that do appeal to everyone often tend to be exclusively made for a younger audience. However, it is this appeal to not young, not old, but people, that makes Ancel such an essential presence in the gaming industry.

It is worth noting how much Ancel has remained focused on each of his game projects, taking the reigns as the lead designer and director for every single entry in the Rayman series, save for Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, where he only advised the game’s production, and the Rabbids spin-off titles. This distinct consistency of his presence within each game’s development has allowed the titles to flourish in a way that helps the 20-year-old game series uniquely flavorful.

If you haven’t tried out a Michel Ancel experience at the time of this reading, do yourself a favor and check him out. His games are so full of personality that it’s quite difficult to not smile while playing them. By utilizing every artistic aspect of the video gaming medium to its fullest extent, Michel Ancel has undoubtedly made an impression on the industry that will not be forgotten, and he continues to do so to this day. Thanks, Mr. Ancel. We appreciate you a lot. (And we’re definitely looking forward to Beyond Good and Evil 2.)

A fan of good sandwiches and good video games. Hopefully you like at least one of those things.