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            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

One Last Voice Acting Jab

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Like Riddles astutely pointed out, he and I have failed to deliver on Cheesy Voice Acting Week. Especially in comparison to our massively successful Romance Week. HOWEVER! There is one game that has voice acting that is so beyond bad that it needs to get some attention before we put this theme week behind us.

BatenKaitosCoverYes, of course I’m talking about the original Baten Kaitos. I’m not going to touch the sequel/prequel because I haven’t played it, and also Riddles tells me it’s not as bad and I’ll take his word for it. THIS TIME. Anyway, Baten Kaitos was a strange beast as it’s one of the few RPGs that I beat and enjoyed almost purely for its battle system. The environments were gorgeous, but the scenes were boring, poorly directed, and the character models looked pretty bad, and this was when the voice acting was turned off. And oh dear GOD, was that option ever a requirement for me to beat this game. To continue here, dear readers, I need to clear up something. Although I’ll constantly rag on bad voice acting, the truth is that while I’m playing the game, I can usually set aside my issues for the sake of getting into the experience and complain about it later. I prefer to enjoy a game while I’m playing it rather than let one aspect ruin the whole thing for me. However, Baten Kaitos delivers something truly astounding with its voice performances – every one is terrible. I typically prefer some form of voice acting to text, but I couldn’t handle it this time. I thought maybe it was just miserable dialogue, but when I finally turned off the voice acting, I found that – while still not great – the words were greatly improved without voices. I no longer wanted to punch Xelha in the throat, and Savyna became hot again. In essence, the game became playable. So after I finally made that decision, I would play for a few hours and then I would begin to wonder why I turned the voices off. “It can’t be THAT bad,” I would think, “I was probably over-reacting”. So because the scenes were just static shots with talking heads, I stupidly would decide to turn the voice acting back on. Of course, the moment I had access to the menu again, I would rectify that grave error.

This is Kalas realizing that he has to LIVE with his voice.

This is Kalas realizing that he has to LIVE with his voice.

The pattern would surprisingly continue. I ACTUALLY couldn’t believe that the voice acting was that bad. It would prove me wrong every time. But because you can’t switch the option during cutscenes, I had to sit through some particularly awful, and frankly embarrassing voice work. I mean, I understand that in many cases the voice actors don’t have a director, other actors to play off of, or even a basic understanding of the context of their lines, but still! C’mon man! This game is unbelievable. And this was in an age when terrible voice acting was becoming far less common. Anyway, that’s all I got, suck it.

News Roundup #007 – September 27, 2009: “Shooting The Shit”

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

News was so disappointing this week that Riddlethos decided to dedicate the Roundup to ragging on TGS 2009. There are no headlines, no megatons, and Riddles and Ethos don’t even know they’re officially rounding up until half way through the conversation!

Still, this casual conversation is a great read as the lack of news starts to visibly tear away at the young nerds’ happiness and sanity.

Click here to enjoy!
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Concerning Voice Acting…

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Okay, well it’s confession time here at Riddlethos.com: we’ve failed hardcore at Cheesy Voice Acting week. My apologies to our legions of disappointed fans, but me and Ethos are only human. Or, at least, I’m only human. Ethos can speak for himself.

See, this happens when we don’t employ foreplay foresight while dreaming up theme weeks. I’ve spent the entire week trying to dream up SOMETHING relevant to write about Cheesy Voice Acting, but needless to say, I’ve been drawing blanks. So now I’m just… rambling. Rambling away. Let’s run with it, shall we?

Barf.

Barf.

Just how important IS voice acting to a game, anyway? In my opinion, the gaming industry must strive to achieve competence across the board when it comes to voicework, if it ever hopes to be treated with the same respect as the film industry. And I think we can all agree that, as a whole, the voice acting we hear today trumps what we had even five years ago. In fact, I can’t think of a single game I’ve played this generation that featured truly poor voice acting.

Wait. Strike that. I forgot about a certain Blue Dragon.

Anyway. Regardless, for every Blue Dragon we have a Lost Odyssey. And a BioShock. And an Uncharted. And a Mass Effect. And to be fair, there were more than a few last-gen releases that are noteable for their voicework. Sure, we had the Baten Kaitos’ and the Devil May Crys and the endless stream of licensed games with shitty imitation voice acting, (that stream is still running today, sadly) but we also had greatness in the form of Final Fantasy XII, Xenosaga, Dragon Quest VIII, and surely more that escape my mind at the moment.

Good voice acting is worth the money and time that developers put into it. Would Uncharted be the same without Nolan North’s fantastic portrayal of protagonist Nathan Drake? Can you imagine simply READING the dialogue in Final Fantasy XII? I can, and lemme tell ya, it’s a frightening concept. And on that note, why don’t I hit you with a list made off the top of my head. Here are five of my all-time favorite videogame voice roles.

Major Hottie.

Major Hottie.

Balthier – Final Fantasy XII

Well this one’s a no-brainer. Balthier was easily the most interesting character among FFXII’s (rather bland) lineup, and this is largely due to the fantastic voicework provided by Gideon Emery. Emery himself has a pretty impressive resume, appearing in a number of videogames including Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed 2. In addition to that, he’s appeared in several popular TV shows such as 24, Burn Notice, and CSI. Final Fantasy XII is one of the last generation’s most well-acted titles, and Balthier stands apart from the rest.

Jansen – Lost Odyssey

Seriously, who didn’t love this guy? Jansen is a perfect example of comic relief done correctly. He’s funny and goofy, yes, but never over the top, and he actually has some decent backstory to his character. Of course, Lost Odyssey’s cast of characters is one of the best in recent memory, which is just part of what makes it my personal favorite RPG of this generation. Jansen was voice by an apparent nobody named Michael McGaharn. By “nobody,” I mean to say that his Wikipedia page is a stub. Other voicework includes… Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic Adventure, and Lead Phoenix in Burning Rangers. Mean anything to you? Yeah, me neither. Ah well, hopefully we’ll get to hear him again in Lost Odyssey 2, which is currently being developed in the little dream world I visit at night.

The Prince of Persia – Sands of Time/Two Thrones

He's more soft-spoken than he looks.

He's more soft-spoken than he looks.

Perhaps you’ve heard me express my fanboyism for Yuri Lowenthal in the past. If not, then you’re about to. Anyone who’s played the original Prince of Persia trilogy knows what a fantastic job he did voicing the titular Prince, at least in the first and third installments. I love Robin Atkin Downes as well, but his gravelly Wolverine-ish performance as the Prince was just one of the many things wrong with Warrior Within. Lowenthal has been in a ton of games, including Tales of the Abyss, Persona 3, Persona 4, and Xenosaga Episode III. He can also be found in a number of animes (including one of my personal favorites, Ergo Proxy) and a some scattered live-action roles.

King Trode – Dragon Quest VIII

This is fast becoming a very RPG-centric list. But like I said, I’m just going off the top of my head here, so live with it. King Trode was one of the best things about Dragon Quest VIII, and that’s saying a lot, because… Dragon Quest VIII was awesome. To this day I’m not quite sure why I loved it so much, since I’m generally turned off by grindy, ultra-traditional RPGs. Maybe it’s because among the last generation’s RPG offerings, Dragon Quest VIII’s presentation and production qualites are rivalled only by Final Fantasy XII. Among those sharp production qualities is a shockingly stellar voice cast, composed mostly of nobodies. But as good as they all are, Jon Glover’s performance as a quirky king-turned-Toad tops them all.

Albedo – Xenosaga Trilogy

This list is in no particular order, but I can safely say that among the five I’ve mentioned here, Crispin Freeman’s performance as the psychotic Albedo is my personal favorite. My love for the Xenosaga series is well-known, but I don’t think I’ve ever discussed just how much I love Albedo. He is, without question, my favorite videogame villain of all time. He’s truly insane, he’s sickeningly brutal, he has no regard for human life, and he laughs a lot. Take Kefka, merge him with Heath Ledger’s Joker, and you get Albedo. Unlike the two of them, though, Albedo actually has a backstory, which is slowly (and disturbingly) revealed throughout the course of the three games. We see everything, from his childhood to the current day, that turned him into what he is. Freeman is another one of my favorite voice actors of all time, having appeared in dozens of games including Tales of Symphonia, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, and the upcoming God of War III. His performance in the Xenosaga games is undoubtedly his best work, at least from what I’ve seen. Albedo would still be a fantastic villain without him, but Freeman’s performance is why I still have so many of his insane quips and rans burned into my brain.
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Lists are fun. I like lists. Did you like this list? Do you have a list of your own, perchance? COMMENT BELOW, FOOLS.
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This list is in no particular order, but I can safely say that among the five I’ve mentioned here, Crispin Freeman’s performance as the psychotic Albedo is my personal favorite. My love for the Xenosaga series is well-known, but I don’t think I’ve ever discussed just how much I love Albedo. He is, without question, my favorite videogame villain of all time. He’s truly insane, he’s sickeningly brutal, he has no regard for human life, and he laughs a lot. Take Kefka, merge him with Heath Ledger’s Joker, and you get Albedo. Unlike the two of them, though, Albedo actually has a backstory, which is slowly (and disturbingly) revealed throughout the course of the three games. We see everything, from his childhood to the current day, that turned him into what he is. Freeman is another one of my favorite voice actors of all time, having appeared in dozens of games including Tales of Symphonia, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, and the upcoming God of War III. His performance in the Xenosaga games is undoubtedly his best work, at least from what I’ve seen. Albedo would still be a fantastic villain without him, but Freeman’s performance is why I still have so many of his insane quips and rans burned into my brain.

Lists are fun. I like lists. Did you like this list? Do you have a list of your own, perchance? COMMENT BELOW, FOOLS.

Oh Yeah!

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

I forgot this little outtake gem from Romance Week. It’s another IM look into my idiocy. Why is THAT a running theme this week?
numbersfail

‘ELLO GUV’NAH! – September 25th 2009

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Here we are! Just three games, really, and you’ve heard too much about one of them before, but whatever.

DS_Starfy_PackagingMario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story -
I beat it! Lookit that! I beat a game in less than two weeks! Granted, it’s just a twenty hour game, but still! I never do that! Wow, it’s a lot of fun, and that’s probably the best final boss in any Mario RPG that I’ve played. Such a good decision to let Bowser take the lead. I hope it’s like what happened with Wario Land when that name just slowly took over the Game Boy Mario platforming franchise. Ooo! Think about Bowser and Wario in the next “Mario & Luigi” title! I’m absolutely on board. Still funny, and Fawful is still a great villain. There’s more stuff to do, so I might even keep playing after this to collect everything, but knowing me, probably not. Moving on!

PixelJunk_-_Monsters_LogoPixelJunk Monsters -
Great, another addicting game that’ll keep me up until 7am. This was on Pogo’s PS3, so I signed into my PSN account, and gave it a go. I tried it a while ago, but I didn’t remember liking it very much. I assumed that I didn’t like the castle defense genre and that this wouldn’t take up too much of my time. Whelp, nope. Like I said: 7am and goodbye way too many hours. What an addicting game. There’s not much to say about it except that it’s your standard castle defense game, but with a cute art style, and simple interface to lure you in. Of course, it’s a lot more difficult than it appears. Plus, I just suck at castle defense games. Anyway, I managed to pick up a few more trophies from my session, but it wasn’t nearly as fruitful as when I bought…

LittleBigPlanet-LogoLittleBigPlanet: Game of the Year Edition –
I budgeted myself one game for the next two weeks or so, and I thought this one was a no brainer. I needed at least one multi-player game in my very solo-oriented line-up, and I had a blast with this when I played it at a friend’s house. I knew I was going to buy it eventually, so I decided to get it before the storm came later this year. I played for a few hours, and it’s a blast! Definitely not as strong single player, but I still had lots of fun playing the story and exploring the community levels. I can definitely see it as a game that I go back to in short bursts for a very long time to come. But I guess that’s the point. Anyway, apparently trophies are ridiculously easy in that game, because I have about a billion now. I’m still nowhere close to Abe80, but every little bit helps. Especially in prep for all the PS3 action that’s going to happen this year. I’m starting to want Modern Warfare 2, now that I’ve discovered that I’m not terrible at these games. What’s happening to me? Anyway, I’ll leave you off with a Trophy Card comparison again, since I didn’t update proper on the Monday. Note: My card isn’t up to date at the time of this posting, I should have more than 11 silvers. If that’s the case below: it has updated.
ethostar

Vs

straightxedge

Umm…are you still reading this? Get lost!!! I’ll hopefully actually write something else related to the theme soon. There’s a game I want to tear to pieces…

I’ll Sack Your Boy!

Friday, September 25th, 2009

…erm…that title wasn’t so hot…
Anyway, I just got LittleBigPlanet, so I’m going to play some before I deliver you all today’s ‘ELLO GUV’NAH! I’m excited!
Also, I got new jeans!

Yeesssssss

Yeesssssss

Ethos is a Fruit

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Sad but true, ladies and gentlemen. Sad but true.

This image has not been altered or tampered with in any way.

This image has not been altered or tampered with in any way.

Read it firsthand here.

TGS 2009: Hey! Look! Listen!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Day two of the Tokyo Game Show is upon us, and there’s yet to be an announcement that even remotely interests me. Where’s the Kingdom Hearts III news? Where’s a North American FFXIII release date? Where’s a new Zelda announcement? Oh wait, that’s right, Nintendo doesn’t even attend TGS. Even if they were there, they’d just announce another fat people game. BAH.

Ah well, I suppose I’ll fill you in on the few things worth discussing.

Yeah, I think that's pre-rendered.

Yeah, I think that's pre-rendered.

TRAILER WATCH: Final Fantasy XIV
Let’s start with the most worthwhile thing to come out of the show: A new Final Fantasy XIV trailer! It’s really quite pretty. I want this game. A lot. And I didn’t even like Final Fantasy XI that much. Unfortunately, GameTrailers resident HaloWars298 doesn’t seem to share my opinion:

“Will turn out to be crap, just like WoW. Epic needs to show these scrubs how it’s done, I think a Gears TPS MMO could be much better than this stinky.”

I really need to stop giving random internet morons the proverbial 15 seconds of fame…

NEW FOOTAGE WATCH: The Last Guardian
Okay, so Ethos already mentioned this in his most recent issue of Scatter Storming. And it’s not that exciting anyway; Fumito Ueda waxes artsy for a bit, and then shows off about a minute of new “footage.” Still, if you’re prematurely ejaculating over the game like I am, you’ll likely enjoy it. This GameTrailers video is much better quality than the shit Ethos linked you to yesterday.

BITCH

BITCH

RELEASE DATE/TRAILER WATCH: Splinter Cell: Conviction
Gah, I don’t care about Splinter Cell! But it’s a big game, and it finally has a release date. That release date is February 23, 2010. Which, incidentally, is two weeks after BioShock 2 is set for release. What significance does that fact hold? None. None whatsoever. Anyway, if you’re interested, check out this shiny new “release date announcement trailer” that premiered at TGS.

White Knight Chronicles 2 Announced
Well, isn’t this exciting. A sequel to a kinda-sorta-popular JRPG that hasn’t yet been released outside of Japan. The only reason I consider this news at all is because SUPPOSEDLY, we Americans will receive a localized version of the original White Knight Chronicles someday. And if I were to buy, play, and enjoy White Knight Chronicles, then I’d likely be interested in the sequel. But I doubt I’ll even buy WKC, and if I do, I probably won’t play it. So why the hell am I even wasting my time talking about the sequel? Don’t ask me. It’s been a slow TGS so far. (Kotaku).

Well folks, I must admit, I’m not impressed. I think I said that already, but I’ll say it again. I’m not impressed, and I won’t be until The Legend of Zelda: Not a Gimmicky DS Game is announced. OH WAIT THAT WON’T HAPPEN.

FUCK TGS, MAN.

Morning Thoughts

Thursday, September 24th, 2009
I'm just greedy, I'll admit it.

I'm just greedy, I'll admit it.

Well like Riddles said, TGS has been a rampaging disappointment so far in terms of the megatons we gamers live for. I know that TGS is a little different than E3 in that news trickles out a lot more even during the show unlike E3’s burst of announcements before the show. But still, it’s a little sad that the biggest news for me is that Final Fantasy VIII is on the PSN…and I think only in Japan as well. And that’s good news for me not because I want to play it but because it makes it very likely that Final Fantasy IX will also come out in the near future.

But dude! Kingdom Hearts III! It’s about time! KHII came out almost FOUR YEARS AGO in Japan, I think it’s time we started the hype train for the official sequel. The two portable offshoots are almost out, and if KHII is any indication, we won’t even get III until 2 years after we first hear about it, so make the goddamned announcement! And Sora and Kairi better be at least 18 and fucking each other’s brains out at this point. Jesus Christ.

Oh well, at least we know that Gran Turismo 5 isn’t coming out until March of next year. That gives me legitimate time to spend with Forza 3.

Tokyo Game Show 2009: Sony’s Presser was Boring

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Yeah, I’ve got your attention NOW, don’t I? Welcome to the start of Riddlethos.com’s sure-to-be-ridiculous Tokyo Game Show coverage.

That’s not to say we’ll be breaking our backs to bring you every little piece of news, but if something catches my fancy I’ll be sure to share it with you. Such as, say, Sony’s press conference. Like the title implies, it was… really boring. Or rather, reading Kotaku and IGN’s liveblogs was really boring. Kotaku’s was almost an exercise in comedy; it was written over an iPhone, and the translator left about three quarters of the way through. IGN’s was more, ah, streamlined; nonetheless, it was still boring because nothing remotely interesting was announced.

Just to give you the gist of it: Gran Turismo 5 was given a release window of March 2010, Yoshinori Kitase showed off Japan’s girly-looking FFXIII PS3 bundle, Capcom demonstrated an upcoming version of Resident Evil 5 that will feature support for Sony’s utterly pointless motion controller, boring shit for Home was announced, and some kinda community feature is coming to the PSP. There’s more of course, but the stuff I left out is even less interesting than the above.

To say the least, I was unimpressed. I’m tired and I can’t muster the energy to bring you more, ah, detailed coverage at the moment. Look for it tomorrow. For now, I leave you with a picture of a Final Fantasy XIII-themed PS3 that YOU can’t have. BAHAHAHAHA.

Pink. Why pink?

Pink. Why pink?