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