5 Cases of Terrible Voice Acting – Speak friend and enter!

That’s Charles Martinet up there you know.  He’s Mario.  That is not how I expected him to look.

So there was that voice actor strike a little while back.  Is that still going on?  I’m pretty sure it was to do with pay and conditions.  I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of it, but I am going to take the opportunity to mock some genuinely terrible voice acting in games.  Bad voice acting really can take you out of an experience when it’s so jarringly bad.  Even in a game that isn’t very good to start with can suffer even more at the hands of bad vocal work.  On the other hand, there is the occasional “so bad it’s good” set of vocal lines that can occasionally work if you’re going for a B-movie style.  But more on that later.

David Warner
David Warner played Jon Irenicus in Baldur’s Gate 2. I can’t think of many “real” actors being used in games well, but this guy is Irenicus as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, you know they rules by now.  Games that I have played only, one game per series etc. etc.  I normally wouldn’t post videos, preferring to go for screenshots, but to fully appreciate the sheer awfulness (is that a word?) I feel a video is somewhat necessary.  Enjoy!

Resident Evil

resident_evil_logo
Resident Evil (1996)

A classic!  In so may ways.  It brought survival horror into the mainstream.  It was genuinely unsettling at times.  The graphics (for the time) were excellent.  That first meeting with a zombie!  But the voice work was cheesy beyond belief.  This is what I meant with “so bad it’s good” B-movie style.  The cheesy dialogue actually works for the game.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the line was delivered so badly.  I accept the writing being wonky, but considering the context of the scene, it comes across so badly acted.

Almost crushed to death, having been confronted by zombies, and we’re giggling about being “a Jill sandwich”.  Plus Barry not managing to say Jill correctly.  Apparently the voice actor started laughing during the reading of the line, resulting in it sounding like “Jiggle”.  But obviously doing another take is something other game studios do, so it was left in.  Then there was the “Master of unlocking” quote later on.  Just cringe worthy.

Mega Man 8

Mega Man 8 Logo
Mega Man 8 (1997)

Mega Man 4 is my favourite in this series.  This is most likely due to it being the first one I played, but I still stand by the fact that it was a good entry to the series even though it was a touch easier than some of the others.  Mega Man 8 was released on the Saturn and PlayStation complete with animated cutscenes featuring voiced characters.  Whilst there were some laughable ones, none quite takes the crown of “Most Terrible Voice Acting” like Dr. Light.

I’m not one to make fun of someone with a speech impediment which may account for the mispronunciation of “Dr. Wily”, but the lines are just delivered so poorly.  There’s utterly no emotion to them, and at various points the person delivering them sounds as though they’re drunk!  This didn’t really effect the main game too much as they were confined to animated cutscenes outside the stages.  But good god they were annoying and stuck out like a sore thumb.

Dynasty Warriors 3

Dynasty Warriors 3
Dynasty Warriors 3 (2001)

The Dynasty Warriors games are something of a guilty pleasure for me.  I’m not under the illusion that they’re excellent games, but they can be extremely cathartic.  Taking out hordes of enemy units before confronting their commander is rather satisfying.  Battles are often interrupted by by brief cutscenes of the commanders taunting each other before engaging in battle and it is some of the most terrible, cheesy vocal work I have ever heard.  But it somehow makes the game better for it.

Just listen to it.  I don’t think I even need to say anything.  It’s hilariously camp nonsense, with lines delivered as though they’re sitting in a living room mocking each other over a game of Street Fighter rather than fighting to the death on the fields of battle.  “Feel the power of my maaaagiiiiiiic!” sounds as though it’s being said by a character on South Park rather than a Chinese mystic.  The thing is, I think the game would actually be worse if the lines were delivered seriously.  This is the perfect example of “So bad it’s good” in video game voice acting.

House of the Dead 2

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House of the Dead 2 (1998)

I love light gun games and I love this series.  House of the Dead is one of those go to light gun games for me, alongside the likes of Time Crisis and Area 51.  Well paced with interesting boss fights (linked to Tarot cards apparently) and typing tutor spin offs of all things!  There aren’t all that many voice lines in the second entry in the series due to the plot being completely meaningless; but those that are there…

I’m not sure the voice actors knew what the characters were going to be doing in the game.  It’s as though each person was given just their own lines and recorded after reading it once.  No one seems to have a single emotion.  Maybe the real zombies are the humans!  Is that what’s happening?  Is the game that deep?!  No.  No it isn’t.

Shenmue

Shenmue
Shenmue (2000)

I feel bad for including this.  I really enjoyed the game in spite of some bizarre lines that were repeated far too often (“Do you remember the day the snow turned to rain?”) or delivered in such a stilted way.  The bad voice work did break the immersion from time to time, which is a shame as it was pushed as being an immersive experience through its day night cycle, genuine weather transitions and it’s time based system that I only really recall seeing in Dead Rising since then.

The lines from some of the characters are delivered in such a forced way.  Nothing feels like a genuine, flowing conversation.  It’s more like they’re a conduit for information (which I suppose they are) and nothing more.  It’s an issue that came up quite regularly in the era, but when this game was supposed to be so immersive, badly delivered voice work sticks out a great deal.

A couple of honourable mentions.  Earth Defense Force has some absurd lines that result in more than a few chuckles.  This may be due to translation showing cultural differences between territories.  Sonic Adventure is also a fairly poor one at times.  The line delivery isn’t always terrible, but the sound mixing is a mess meaning some lines can’t be heard over the background music and sentences are cut off part way through.  This is compounded by some of the characters having such grating voices.  Also: Big the Cat…

How about you?  Can you remember any dreadful voice work from some of your favourite games?  Has it ever ruined the overall experience for you?  Let me know.  I could always use a laugh!

 

 

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33 thoughts on “5 Cases of Terrible Voice Acting – Speak friend and enter!”

  1. It’s not really the same thing, but I remember reading that if you kill the broadcaster in dishonoured, Carrie Fisher comes and replaces him. IF. I played the whole game and didn’t even know she was in it. Waste of a real talent!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of PS1 and early PS2 games had really atrocious voice acting. I once saw a video of the worst voice acting in games, and an overwhelming majority of them were PS1 games. I think that’s when the idea of having full voice acting in games was impressive by itself, but nowadays, it’s just laughable. When it comes to the subject, the first thing that comes to my mind is Chaos Wars, a late PS2 game. I haven’t played it myself, but those voices coupled with the poorly translated dialogue is just plain mesmerizing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a spate of celebrity voice casting in that era too, with movie and tv stars putting in horribly lacklustre performances. Apparently simply having a famous name on the box was enough for some studios to call it finished.

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  3. I don’t know the actors name, but anyone that’s played Bayonetta 2 will remember that the kid (loki) has some of the worst line delivery I’ve ever heard.

    His use of the world ‘Love’ is constantly the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard in a game.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. you know what, despite Shenmue’s bad voice acting, that game just worked. I would initially note the short comings of it’s dialogue delivery, and even to this day, Shenmue’s dialogue delivery is always at the fore front of jokes. Day I say where I can find sailors? or Chinese people?!

    Much memories from this game, but it never stopped the game from being great. I don’t think bad voice acting can break a game as long as the rest of it is built good.

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  5. Tidus from FFX is famously bad, and not just the laugh. I did not like his voice actor. I mean I know Tidus is supposed o be whiny but ughhh. Worse I’ve heard snippets of what he sounds like in Japanese and it is SO much better, but nothing..absolutely nothing compares to Aeris’s voice actor in Crisis Core *insert me screaming whyyyyy* Omfg…I wanted to kill her right then and there. She’s the last of the Ancients, and she sounds like a goddamn ditz. I get she’s only 17 in the game, but I don’t know…in my head canon (which of course could be way off), I saw her as someone who was optimistic but still imbued with a sad sense of her own fate. Also CC pretty much made her a manic pixie dream girl for Zack, who is not really one of my favorites either.

    Gah, I feel like I’ve bitched all over your comment section, but her voice was so bad I couldn’t finish the game. I hope they rerelease it with the option of Japanese subtitles, because it’s just awful.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I should get right on that 😀

        Oh geez…he seems like someone who would have an annoying voice actor to be honest. I haven’t played XIII, but from just view, he seems a Tidus like character lol. Vaan’s voice actor wasn’t too bad, and I really like Fran’s and Balthier’s.

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  6. Mega Man 8 is definitely the one I think of for bad voice acting. Dr. Wiwey… It’s just so wrong. Pokken Tournament was also really bad. The characters either mumbled their lines or just didn’t care. I heard it was voice acted with English talent in Japan, so if that means anything…

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  7. Great list, Resident Evil stands out to me as terribly bad but paradoxically really endearing voice acting, the industry has really come in leaps and bounds since the good old days; I replayed Silent Hill 2 a while ago and remembered it being fairly well acted and oppressive… Yeah, nah, the acting, particularly from the fat dude you run across, is absolutely horrendous!

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    1. I think a problem with that era was to do with timing too. A lot of the time, lines seemed to have long pauses between them which would completely break the flow of a conversation (especially if one person is meant to be cutting off another). Maybe it was a problem with loading the sound files quickly enough?

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