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May 13, 2011 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Top 50 Worst Video Game Voices brought to life by some guy's face. Collected by Audio Atrocities. Previously 1 2.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (75 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, this guy is an awesome interpreter of this dialogue. He's really bringing out unexpected nuances.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


#3 is awesome :)
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:57 PM on May 13, 2011


Aw, man! Why didn't I think to post this when I saw it the other day? I agree, this guy is aces with the faces. I actually sat through the entire thing, which I almost never do.
posted by absalom at 2:58 PM on May 13, 2011


This is surprisingly fantastic — somehow all the face-making adds so much extra ham that it makes the original ham much more palatable.
posted by RogerB at 3:00 PM on May 13, 2011


Heh, no Deus Ex?
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on May 13, 2011


Die, monster! You don't belong in this world!
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 3:01 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is great. I particularly liked the one for "The Space Adventure".
posted by brundlefly at 3:04 PM on May 13, 2011


Awesome.

"He wrote it in his own blood? WAY TO GO, KID!"
posted by Errant at 3:05 PM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


DENNIS!
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:05 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, the part where he does that whole little quick back and forth conversation about Chopin? That's just flat impressive by any standard.
posted by absalom at 3:09 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


That was unexpectedly great. I was expecting to hear, "What strength! But don't forget there are many guys like you all over the world!"
posted by lord_wolf at 3:12 PM on May 13, 2011


When will game designers realize voice acting can only ever make a game worse?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:16 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


This just reminds me of a random stock passerby in GTA:3, who was hefty and dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and clearly meant to be a gay stereotype, and as far as I could discern only ever said one of three things when you walked past him:

1.) "In the Navy..."
2.) "There's no need to feel down!"
3.) "There's a place you can go."

It should probably have been offensive, but the voice actor totally sold it. And every time I walked past the stock character without noticing him at first my eyes would brighten a bit as I heard his voice. Like, "oh, there's my old friend." I don;t know if Rockstar North is actually homophobic or if they were just making the stock "gay" character is satirically broad as everybody else in the voice cast, but somehow it crossed the line from offensive to endearing, for me.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:17 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


When will game designers realize voice acting can only ever make a game worse?

Mass Effect 1 and 2 would be a hundred times worse without Jennifer Hale.
posted by kmz at 3:29 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq: "When will game designers realize voice acting can only ever make a game worse?"

*cough*
posted by brundlefly at 3:38 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


When will game designers realize voice acting can only ever make a game worse?

I refute it thus!

Portal.
posted by chimaera at 3:40 PM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


brundlefly beat me to it.
posted by chimaera at 3:40 PM on May 13, 2011


I love the The Mega Man 8 line.. one take is all you get, I guess!
posted by starman at 3:50 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does Portal really count, though? I thought it was all synthesized speech, or at least effected such that the awfulness of the acting seems intentional.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:59 PM on May 13, 2011


Portal is real speech post-processed to sound synthesized.

(And is beautifully acted, IMHO.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:02 PM on May 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nope, three actors. Portal 2 has even less if the computer sound.
posted by The Whelk at 4:03 PM on May 13, 2011


I'm surprised you'd think the acting in Portal was so awful, you'd suspect it was intentional. It was so perfect with the dry irony and hostility.

And I've only played a few minutes of Portal 2... But the voice acting in those few minutes was the best part of the game.
posted by meese at 4:03 PM on May 13, 2011


(And is beautifully acted, IMHO.)

And the Oscar goes to...
posted by Sys Rq at 4:08 PM on May 13, 2011


WE MUST WECOVAH ALL DA ENNAGY IMMEDALY, WUH-MEGAMAN.

The crazy part is that Japanese companies STILL haven't gotten their heads around English voice acting. FF13 was just unbelievably bad, and it had about a 30 godzillion dollar budget. I think it goes deeper than just a basic language barrier: Entire manners of speaking that sound perfectly natural in a Japanese game (or anime) will sound stilted or awkward in English no matter how loosely they're translated, just because of fundamental differences in the way people express thoughts, and the way characters are developed. Even with universally approachable stories and big-name actors, it's always going to be a bit strange. It can either be charming and endearing (Miyazaki), or hilariously awful (these clips).
posted by jake at 4:08 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]




And yeah, Deus Ex is a rare case. How in the world is that game so amazingly good, in spite of "PAHAPS A PRESEN FOH YO GUHFRIEND?" ?!!? Any Deus Ex fan who hasn't played the Malkavian Mod needs to stop what they're doing and play it now.
posted by jake at 4:16 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Same thing with the Shenmue games, jake. Terrible, horrible voice acting but they're still beyond amazing.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 4:31 PM on May 13, 2011


Speaking of voice acting, everytime I put Resident Evil 4 in the Wii my wife shouts from the next room "WHADDAYA BUYIN?"
posted by Hoopo at 4:35 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]




This dude really reminds me of Wil Wheaton.
posted by Errant at 4:41 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


WHADDAYA SELLIN guy is totally who I thought of immediately, seeing this, too!
posted by meese at 4:46 PM on May 13, 2011


How did Yakuza 1 not make this list? Such gloriously bad voice acting.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:49 PM on May 13, 2011


The worst thing is when a piece of dialogue is repeated. This code should be in every game:
play(dialog) {
	if (dialog.lastPlayed is null OR dialog.isCriticalToTheGameplayOrPlot OR dialog.lastPlayed < 2MinutesAgo) {
		// ok, play the dialog
	} else {
		// do something less infuriating
	} 
}

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:49 PM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Somewhat related: Stephen Merchant talking about working on Portal 2.

Naughty Dog gave a talk at GDC a few years ago about how they got such quality dialogue into Uncharted, and the reaction of most of the audience was, "You want us to do what? Do you have any idea what that would cost?!"

IIRC, voice actors are paid by the hour, and there's a daily minimum, so calling them back to fix things after you actually try it in the game is prohibitively expensive. And, of course, the good ones are expensive to begin with. Even just doing a few retakes can cost a serious amount of money - and good luck trying to justify that cost with your publisher.
posted by Sibrax at 5:06 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah good voice actors are expensive and games tend to have razor thin budgets to begin with.

That being said Portal 2 gets my bid for Best Performance by a Personality Sphere or Rouge AI in a Fictional Construct.
posted by The Whelk at 5:18 PM on May 13, 2011


Ha. This was surprisingly charming.

And yeah, Deus Ex is a rare case.

"Thanks fa geddin me in!"

"I SPEEL my DRINK!"
posted by cortex at 5:18 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mass Effect 1 and 2 would be a hundred times worse without Jennifer Hale.

I had the pleasure of directing Jennifer on a past game. Total pro. I remember seeing her walk in and immediately start removing jewelry -- earrings, necklace, etc. -- so they wouldn't make a sound. We were asking her to do a sound-alike to another actress, and out of a dozen actors doing the same thing, she was the only one that had bothered to gather her own clips of the actress and put them on an iPod and, you know, actually practice and rehearse before the session.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:19 PM on May 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


Question:

Is there a separate guild for voice actors that sets minimum rates and the like and game companies tend to use non-union labor to save money or something? So many games sound like "My cousin at theater camp" .

That being said, aside from Portal? What would Baldur's gate be without Minsc's screaming or Planescape without Mort's unction?
posted by The Whelk at 5:36 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The otherwise unremarkable WH40k game Fire Warrior gets my vote of awesome for having both Tom Baker AND Brian Blessed. Shouting!
posted by Artw at 5:41 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a separate guild for voice actors that sets minimum rates and the like and game companies tend to use non-union labor to save money or something?

They're covered by SAG.

So many games sound like "My cousin at theater camp."

My opinion:
* Many games don't even bother with SAG actors. It may very well be someone's cousin at theater camp.
* Most of the games in this video are actually Japanese games, so the English lines are written and performed to match the story and the animation. The story is weird because ... come on, it's Japan. But they're also covering for additional animation by adding words and sound effects and creating stilted dialogue to match the mouth movement.
* There are some really shitty writers out there.
* Some games don't even bother to pay for shitty writers, so the dialogue is written by the designer that is most capable of stringing sentences together.
* Designers are not generally skilled as directors. You can take perfectly good dialogue and a perfectly good actor and fuck it all up by asking the actor to do is faster, slower, harder, more energy, less energy, more emotion, less emotion oh jesus get me the fuck out of this studio I have other shit to do no one's going to play this stupid fucking game anyway Die, monster! You don't belong in this world! can I please have my check now?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:42 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, a lot of these could be crappy anime dubs and I wouldn't know the difference.
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on May 13, 2011


Oh! You know who else goes all out? Jim Ward as the AI on Defence Grid. Plus as part of the Portal ARG they did a level that's both him AND GLADoS, which was super fun.
posted by Artw at 5:48 PM on May 13, 2011


(Defence Grid is great, BTW, and available for next to nothing pretty much any time Steam has a sale. Thorougly recommended. )
posted by Artw at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stephen Fry as the announcer of Little Big Planet is also good
posted by The Whelk at 5:57 PM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Merchant on recording Portal 2

"I have to say, I found the entire thing really exhausting. More than anything I've ever done before because I'm in this little recording booth, shouting down these imaginary corridors, imaginary gantries, pretending to fall off things and really trying to move around and live it as best I could. I know it sounds really pretentious, but really try to move around like this robot so my voice would feel like it was animated. I was really working hard to try and put myself in that environment, I guess, which is not something I normally do as a performer. Normally I just rock up and I do the lines and I go away again. I'm not an accomplished actor. But for some reason I was really working hard. I guess because I wasn't really in a set, I wasn't in a costume, so I was using my imagination as best I could to try to imagine this would. And again, the guys at Valve were very good at painting a portrait of what the world would look like before it was designed."
posted by The Whelk at 6:01 PM on May 13, 2011


I'll add in a little bit of informed opinion:

I got a job at a small (one might say "boutique") recording studio in New York due to some work I did for hire on a video game voice-acting session.

(That job also led me to Metafilter, so thank you again, dubold.)

They hire the same voice actors that you get in American cartoons. The difference, I feel, is that the amount of dialog requires fewer takes in order to keep to any budget at all, but more that the actors are working with less context. They are just as talented as they would be recording for a cartoon, but they have nothing to play off of.

Just my opinion.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:02 PM on May 13, 2011


Played Arkham Asylum last night and realized again how perfect Mark Hamill's Joker is. Not sure if that counts though.
The bosses in Bayonetta are creepy.
Red Dead Redemption has good voices.
I think this mostly shows up how WEIRD most game writing is.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:05 PM on May 13, 2011


Also, Mike Patton in The Darkness. Actually, I liked all the voices in that game.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:06 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well I now a lot of US TV animation actually has the entire cast in the room recording the lines together, so you can get a more natural sound and I imagine it's easier to get into the scene.

Movie animation records all the line separately, usually, and that sounds like the hardest thing ever, you have to get into a groove completely by yourself.
posted by The Whelk at 6:07 PM on May 13, 2011


I have no idea if this is still the case but it used to be that the preferred format for writers to deliver game dialogue in was an excel spreadsheet - all these little snippets of dialogue, one to a cell.
posted by Artw at 6:13 PM on May 13, 2011


This is so well done.
posted by Songdog at 6:23 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow this guy is awesome.
posted by chococat at 6:24 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]




Um....the voice acting in Portal is not synthesized although it is processed. And the acting is not terrible. That's exactly how a computer would act.
posted by DU at 6:45 PM on May 13, 2011


I decided to look up one of these voice actors on a whim... guess who's coming back next year?
posted by BiggerJ at 8:19 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, the voice acting in Portal and Portal 2 is fantastic, totally sells the game.
Sarcastic and dry and perfect.
We just started Portal 2, my son was watching me play (I'm only up to Chapter 2 so far, going slow...savouring it.) Anyhow, we got to the part where...something happens to the Stephen Merchant character...and my son yelled, "No!" Total testament to selling a character, by voice, that has no human characteristics (or no characteristics at all) to relate to.
posted by chococat at 8:51 PM on May 13, 2011


I was so expecting David Boreanaz as Leon from Kingdom Hearts to show up in this. Because he sounded like he was asleep.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:07 PM on May 13, 2011


I can't stop watching this video.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:20 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It creates a very strange feeling AZ, it's so hammy and intimate and specific. I feel like I shot got eight months of dating at once.
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 PM on May 13, 2011


My favorite is #36. The tilt, headshaking and the eyebrow express that even the game character is skeptical of the forgotten gods of ancient times.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:51 PM on May 13, 2011


No mentions of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion yet? They had these people in the streets who would say a few lines, but the lines were recorded separately and seemingly recorded by different people and/or intended for different characters. For instance this man or this woman.
posted by bjrn at 12:26 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


All that and nothing from Metal Gear Solid 2?
posted by sinnesloeschen at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2011


This guy rules. I appreciate that the list he used mixes together horrible writing and horrible voice acting.
posted by danb at 9:37 AM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


More from that Arctic Blast guy in Chaos Wars
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:27 AM on May 14, 2011


Oh, look, a Zardoz reference in #8.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:34 AM on May 14, 2011


I can't believe Chaos Wars is from 2008.

Shortly after release, a number of websites parsed the Chaos Wars credits to show that a fair number of the "actors" in the game were just friends and family of the CEO.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:40 AM on May 14, 2011


I can't believe Chaos Wars is from 2008.

Keee. Keee.
Keee. Keee.

posted by DaDaDaDave at 11:07 AM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


YOU FACE JARAXXUS
posted by Harry at 2:31 PM on May 14, 2011


I think his performances are so good that it actually defuses the purpose of the list...it's like his miming finds a way to retroactively justify the weird line readings that many of these have.

And if we're talking favorites, mine are: 1. The slight sidewards glance he gives on the line "my wife, my...daughter," as though he can't quite remember, and 2. the BJ Hunnicutt-esque "Okay" in #11.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:04 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well he kind of turns kitsch, horrible stuff we laugh at cause it's horrible, into camp, a stylized extreme version of something we like.
posted by The Whelk at 5:43 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


After the first one - Resident Evil - I waited and waited for another game I had played.

But it never came. Clearly, I have played far too few awful melodramatic Japanese games.
posted by legion at 10:15 PM on May 14, 2011


This is amazing!

I think his eyebrows sell a lot of these.
posted by winna at 12:35 PM on May 15, 2011




Star Ocean: The Last Hope's Lymle makes the game nearly unplayable, for me.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:52 AM on June 9, 2011


The original Kerrigan from Starcraft was pretty great. I guess they replaced her and Raynor, though.
posted by Glinn at 4:56 PM on June 11, 2011


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