The Great PerformancesVideo

On Feelings, And The Un-hire-ability Thereof

Our visual tribute to voice-acting highlights—well, voice-acting lights of some sort—debuts with a look at 1989’s Last Alert.

By John Teti • April 9, 2012

Until there is a Video Game Voice Acting Hall Of Fame, we will have to make do with The Great Performances, an ongoing celebration of those thespian moments that could not be found in any other art form. Mostly because those other art forms have bigger talent budgets.

After development of The Gameological Society was well underway, we received a letter from a law firm in Woodcress, Missouri, demanding that we cease operations immediately. It seemed that there already existed a Gameological Society, established by one Arthur M. Gameological in 1932 as a forum where the Woodcress elite could drink highballs and discuss snooker strategy. Arthur’s grandson, the last scion of the Gameological family, told us that he would forgo a lawsuit under one condition: that he be allowed to host a moving-picture series dedicated to his deepest passion, video game voice acting. Since changing the site’s name was not an option—how would we ever find another moniker that was so catchy, so easy to pronounce and spell?—we grudgingly agreed to grant Arthur M. Gameological III the platform he desired.

Thus, with deep contractual obligation, we present The Great Performances. In this episode: Last Alert, a 1989 run-’n’-gun game for the Turbo-Grafx system that possesses strong attitudes toward pork.

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  • KidvanDanzig

    Man, this is all just… too whimsical.

    Nice to see the site shedding so much AVC baggage so quickly, at least. Feels like a different site already.

    • KidvanDanzig

      This is really awesome, btw

  • Binsbein

    I imagine we’ll be seeing all the old greats from Audio Atrocities.

    • Binsbein

      Of course, let’s not neglect the new school of bad voice acting:

      • HilariousNPC

        That’s not bad voice acting, that’s just awful writing and awful voice directing. All of the principal actors in that scene are used quite frequently elsewhere, but that game just had shit for writing.

        That sequence being used as some emotional touchstone, plus the addition of the kids, as forced tag-alongs is why I’ve never bothered finishing the game. The acting is the least reprehensible thing about that whole fiasco.

      • The_Asinus

        That game was an unbearable piece of shit.

      • AuroraBoreanaz

        “Infinite Undiscovery”?  What kind of stupid bullshit name is that?

        • HilariousNPC

          A name that is almost, but not quite, as awful as “Bravely Default Flying Fairy”, which is also by the same company.

        • The_Asinus

          Yeah, that’s one that my friend and I tried to work out for the brief time we spent playing it. Around the same time, there were a fewJRPGs with “trying too hard” titles, but a lot of them could be made to make sense– Lost Odyssey: the characters are immortal and have retrograde amnesia. It’s trying pretty hard but it makes sense. “Infinite Undiscovery” was just so stupid that even trying to imagine what it would literally mean… covering everything back up? No idea.

    • KidvanDanzig

      Anyone want to take bets on how long it will take for them to get to House of the Dead 2?

      Personally I’m hoping they leave the original Deus Ex out of this feature. I mean sure, the Hong Kong VAs were dancing clumsily upon the precipice of out-and-out racism but the rest of it is actually quite endearing, and JC Denton’s flat affect is so bad it goes back around the scale to great.

      But then, I could be listening through rose-colored speakers -

      Rhetoric? And you believe it?

      • Binsbein

        You can’t tarnish the legacy of the voice acting that spawned the beautiful Malkavian Mod. If I catch wind of anyone here at Gamecology Dot Com doing anything negative about Deus Ex, I’m switching their orange with lemon-lime.

      • ToddG

        I will destroy, and hate, House of the Dead 2.

        • John Thompson

          We’re going to find G.

          No, G!

        • Aaron Riccio

          It gets even betterworse in The Typing of the Dead, by which point, I think they were in on the joke.

      • itisdancing

        Yeah, the voice acting in Deus Ex works. All of the augs have flat affects except for Paul, so it’s not odd that JC is like that. And the ridiculous accents work in what’s fundamentally a garish, pulpy game with a silly plot.

      • The_Asinus

        I’d like to see them visit Angel Devoid– I don’t remember the voice acting, (but I do remember it being the uncredited inspiration for Face/Off) but the main character’s name is “Jake Hard”… for real. The voice acting almost HAS to be terrible. I remember a few nerds really going crazy for it’s technical and story aspects, but I’m pretty sure it sucked.

        Jake Hard

  • trilobiter

    That guy creeps me out a little.  But in a good way?  Kind of reminds me of T. Herman Zweibel, in a less aggressively threatening way.

    Also, that voice acting made my evening.

    • AuroraBoreanaz

      “You’re the best production assistant ever, PHILIP J. FRYE!”

  • David Dalrymple

    This will be a gold mine. I nominate “Martian Memorandum” in the category of “Dialogue that sizzles and pops (with feedback).”

  • Shain Eighmey

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an honest voice actor before. They truly could not hire his feelings, so that was a line he could deliver with feeling!

    • Chip_Dipson

       I concur. I will not be offering him cooking options for his roast any time soon!

  • Chip_Dipson

    Anyone want to give the over/under on how many of these games will be available at Babbages on CD-Rom?

    • Binsbein

      It’s called Software ETC, old man. Get with the times.

  • DrunkPhilatelist

    it’s one of the snippets in the intro to the video above, but i can’t help but call attention to the full-blown awesomeness that is the Resident Evil voice acting. it may have been 15 years or so, but i can still remember the delivery of the line that goes something like, “here take this lockpick. after all, you are the master of unlocking so you should have it.” just a fantastic moment for everyone involved.

    • DrunkPhilatelist

       after some brief google-work.

      the bit i paraphrased is at 2: 15.

      you’re welcome.

    • Binsbein

      I don’t think you need to call attention to the well-traveled road of Resident Evil voice acting discussion, but the folks at Capcom appreciate your support.

      Additionally, they’d appreciate your support a lot more if you’d buy an alternate color palette for this comment for the low price of 200 Microsoft Token.

    • AuroraBoreanaz

      “Jill!  You’re here too?”
      “Barry!  You’re here too!”


    • PugsMalone

      I love the “Jill’s Sandwiches” store in Dead Rising.

  • Django Zeaman

    Great idea, but the “host” didn’t really work. Maybe he just needs a better script.

    • Binsbein

      Arthur is more at home with summer stock. I loved him in Mrs. Warren’s Profession.

  • Destroy Him My Robots

     Ha. It’s nice to see you got McGuire back on board for this.

  • slammin_sammy_sneed

    People will hate you Steve, if you’re too Sting-eee

  • Aymanut

    You guys are really making your own site, this is awesome.

  • itisdancing

    “The president is a very important guest to us, you know. I can’t let him go.”

    “That just makes me want him back even more!”

    • Thom_Not_Tom

      That might be my favorite thing Slowbeef and Diabetus have done, and that’s really saying something.

  • The Guilty Party

    I’m partial to D&D Online’s famous “We beat them off… this time”. The delivery is just perfect.

  • Pixie Solanas

    This old dude’s scenechewing is the best thing i’ve seen this morning.

  • OhHaiMark

    Medium, please!

  • HilariousNPC

    I’m not digging the inclusion of the host. You guys are trying WAY too hard.

    • The_Asinus

      I’m half tempted to agree with you there. But only half! Just tone it down a little.

    • Pixie Solanas

      Oh jesus.  It’s not trying too hard when he’s SUCCEEDING magnificently.

  • The_Asinus

    Okay, those voice actors (or that voice actor) weren’t good, but the technology at the time was also partially to blame. That sounded like 8 -bit, 22kb audio (I kind of want to say 11 or 16Kb, low quality either way) and so they probably forced the actors to SPEAK SUPER CLEARLY since it sounds like it’s coming over a phone. Also, and I’m not sure if this was a limitation or a stupid choice, the fact that they had to cut the music and sfx for the voice acting made it seem even cheaper and shittier. It almost took an aural highlighter to the voice acting which may have otherwise gone by unnoticed. On top of all of that, that was some shitty dialog. Whoever did that localizing should have run it by some highschool kids or something to say, “Does this work for you?” Though I can’t imagine anyone would have signed off on that “feelings” line ever.

    Am I right in that there was localization that took place? No one wrote that dialog in English right? It’s a translation?

    I’m really going to like this feature I think. I’m generally biased against voice acting in games with rare exceptions (e.g. if I can select Japanese in a Japanese game– not being able to understand help me bear it, or in games like Tales of Vesperia where the voice acting is just goddamned perfect. The latter is rare, though, voice acting can really mess with the characterization that I’m building in my mind grapes. Having adult men do weird falsetto voices for boys or making characters whiny makes me look for a way to disable voices very quickly).

  • riobravo79

    Great. Another snarky game column about easy targets in localization. How about a showcase of extreme game covers from the 90s? Those were stupid too, right? Christ, this site is getting depressing.