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Andrew Long - August 20, 2004 23:27 EDT

I PROBABLY SHOULDN'T USE IN-JOKES THAT NOBODY WILL UNDERSTAND for titles, but then again, there are those among you, my beloved audience members, who also suggest that I should not rant on about wholly extraneous BS, such as the pathetic character who tried to pick up the girls I was out with tonight while I was in the washroom with the line "So, the beer's cold, eh?" After being shot down in flames with "as opposed to all that warm beer they usually serve?" he then proceeded to wander over to the next table and ask the girls there "So, how's that poutine working out for you?"

I should mention something about poutine at this point, incidentally; that is, that everyone in Oshawa, the local car production hole that borders Whitby, my hometown, says not "poo-teen" when ordering this delicious treat, but "poo-tang", in apparent defiance of the laws of pronunciation. Now, I'm no Rhodes Scholar, but it seems to me that unless you are somehow confusing fries with cheese curd and gravy for a bootylicious treat, there is no logical reason for saying this, and yet, the soccer moms and GM line workers continue to order pootang en masse, apparently unconcerned that the "Pokeemen" they order alongside them are equally wronged by this horrible local accent.

It is things like this that should stop people from ever trying to insert accents into games through either text or voice acting. The bad dialogue that infests most videogames is painful enough when you don't have to struggle to decipher it from a mangle of apostrophes and bad alliteration, and doubly so if you're forced to hear it with a Brad Pitt-calibre British accent. It is because of this that I am most thankful for one thing: that Chrono Cross was mercifully, blissfully silent.


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Mixing our game show metaphors

Dear Cast,

Voice acting vs. just reading the lines. Well, in movies I prefer sub over dub. I saw Crouching Tiger... with subtitles. I enjoyed it. Recently, it was on TV, but with voice overs. I couldn't stand to watch it. All the voices, pacing of the lines, the lines themselves were off.

As Morpheus said, when Morpheus was still cool and before the second and third movies came along to botch everything up miserably, I know exactly what you mean. Specifically, I saw the movie on CBC and was sitting there wondering what was wrong and wasn't quite able to place it... And then it hit me! TIDUS WAS WRECKING MY MOVIE! Well, it wasn't actually Tidus, but it was someone of his ilk, and so just to be safe I launched a surgical 2x4 at the TV to ensure my freakin' ears remained virginal.

Now I know in a game there wasn't an original sub to compare the dub to, but since translation is always a bit off, I'd rather read (& laugh at) the bits than here them. Also, if you live in an apartment with paper thin walls, you can keep the sound down & not have to worry about missing a key piece of dialogue. I keep the volume just loud enough to enjoy the music.

Then again, I also like silent movies.

I also have a question. WHY are they not bringing ToS to the PS2 here in NA? I'm a poor working sap who can only afford one system. Did the Big N get them to agree to some type of NA exclusiveness?

Thanks, Jbumi

P.S. Does Shroudie have a sister who would be interested in stalking me? Resume upon request!

You think YOU have thin walls? At my last place, the wall between my bedroom and the next was made of frigging styrofoam, which made for very awkward moments when things got frisky next door (as an added bonus, both our beds were right up against the wall). At any rate, Namco's motives for not bringing over ToS on the PS2 are unclear; the possibility has not been definitively ruled out, however, so I wouldn't get alarmed just yet. It's possible Namco is waiting to announce a holiday release, so I'd give it a month or two before throwing myself off any tall buildings (unless, of course, you've been contacted by Morpheus, in which case enjoy your mooshy cement trampopomoline.)

P.S. I am fairly certain Shroudie does in fact have a sister, but whether or not she is of the stalkerish variety is a question he himself will have to answer, and he has been distressingly scarce of late, leading me to wonder if in fact I have grown too boring to be stalked.

Echo echo

Column of voice-actor doom:

I like some some voice acting, though in general it's just not good. I like it when it's good, or just really really bad. Unfortunately, most games can't provide on that.

There are times I love voice-acting, either when it's done well enough that the flaws are forgivable, or when it's so bad it's just entertaining. Disgaea and, in my opinion, Final Fantasy X had pretty good voice-acting. Disgaea was just damn entertaining, and the voice acting seems to add a lot to that. Most o the actors in FFX were good, Tidus was whiny and I hated him but I think the others made up for him, I loved the game enough to forgive him anyway. I also don't mind when v-a is just short clips in battle, a la Breath of Fire 3 or Star Ocean. When it's really bad it can be great too. These kind of games are harder to find in RPG's, I'm mostly thinking Mega Man 8 here (the voice-acting was bad, it filled me with RAGE, but it's soooo bad I can't help but roll on the floor with laughter every time I hear it). RPG wise, Rhapsody comes close. The V-A is pretty bad, but the game and the voices are sooo bad and funny I can't stop laughing (and singing along "I'm the queen the best you've seen so wor-ship me." *jiggle jiggle*. I can watch that for hours, yeah, I'm naughty for staring at a video game female's shaking bust).

You know what I hate more than anything? Short voice acting clips in battle. Come on, you have to ask yourself, what does a character bleating "Moons, lend me your strength!" or shrieking "SEE YA!" like an amphetamine-laced hyena in heat really add to the overall ambience of any given battle system or RPG?

Unfortunately, I guess I'll have to agree with you in that it's mostly bad. There's little effort put into a lot of timing (we won't name names here, it's too many), they always seem to find the whiniest bitch-man they can find to do the hero (Tidus you fill me with RAGE!!), or emotionally flat (I like FFX-2 and the actors for the girls, but come on, put some passion into it girls, it's not fabulous enough). There's just something they don't get right most of the time. And it can be a black mark on games I like. I like Xenosaga (I know, forgive me my sin, my roommate's a psychologist and he can't figure out how my mind continues to function the way it does), probably because of my god-like amounts of patience. Some of my friends think I could put Jesus or Buddha to shame if I want to. Anyway, the point is, the voice acting is a real black-mark on that game, cause most of the characters aren't well done, and the one or two that are well done (mmm chaos, you sound and look so good, and Albedo, how much our minds work alike) doesn't even come close to making any of the others forgivable.

I think it's mostly voice actors, casting directors, and editors that screw it up. RPG makers still don't seem to have gotten that what reads well silent, doesn't necessarily speak well. And come on, I know you can get better actors than that. Kingdom hearts was good, but I think that's because Disney supplied its actors, and as many other problems I have with Disney, I admit their animation is top-notch. WHen voice-acting is good, it's very good (Disgaea), when there's only one or two characters that screw it up, it's forgivable (Final Fantasy X, Tidus I hate you!! RAGE!!!), when it's so craptacular it shoots past bad and hits good again, it's hilarious (Rhapsody), but most of these are exceptions, and it just gets irksome. I think it bothers me because I KNOW they could do better, else I wouldn't watch Dreamworks films. And I think that's the worst part, THEY CAN DO BETTER. So to borrow what I said about FFX-2's voice acting to finish this up, come on RPG makers, it's not fabulous enough yet.

-WildDrac (aka William Kennedy)

Hmm, with all this talk of fabulous, can Oprah be lurking far behind, poised to eat me like so many jelly donuts? Let us all hope not. As for the conundrum with casting directors, I think you're right to lay some of the blame at their doorstep, but you also have to remember that the budget for hiring voice talent really doesn't compare with, say, a Disney flick or your friendly neighbourhood Simpsons casting call. Generally, good actors have good timing and can provide credible voice acting, whereas lousy actors, e.g, the ones you can pay twelve cents and a crate filled with empty tomato cans in exchange for voicing Tidus, are much more plentiful and more importantly, willing to work in games. Until you see talent the likes of which filled Kingdom Hearts, or indeed, whoever stabbed the cast of Disgaea into making a decent product getting more job opportunities, I think voice acting is probably going to remain the asstacular ear poison it is today.

The Lizard weighs in

Oh, Andrew! I have missed you so! But due to computer woes, I was deprived of my weekly Andrew. Deprived, I tell you! By the way, I'm in love with your mothers uncles seventh cousins third ex-wifes great grandmothers docters grandchilds first born baby. I'm sorry you had hear it this way. I would've rather told you on a bulletin board but alas.

Voice acting? Overall, I like voice acting. You see, I don't play games to read. If I wanted to do that I'd read a picture book and make occasional sound effects. Now don't get me wrong here, not EVERYTHING needs to be put into voice acting. I don't need to hear tutorials in voice acting or nonessential banter from unimportant characters. But in Rpgs espessially, there is a lot of chit-chat. I don't want to read ALL that dialogue. Another thing I like is the fact that I rarely know if I'm pronouncing a name correctly or not. I cannot tell you how embarrasing it is to be totally obsessed with a character and find out that I was pronouncing the name wrong. Voice acting takes care of that little problem.

On the downside, I can't stand it when a game characters mouth moves and the designated voice doesn't follow suit. It reminds me of cartoons characters who can only move their mouths in a triangle. And, yes, designers sometimes get people who are like vaccums. They suck. But again, I overall like voice acting.

-The Lizard

Thanks for sharing, Lizard. I guess I'm in the minority nowadays, since I prefer reading to listening (which probably explains why every teacher I ever had wrote that I needed to learn how to follow instructions on my report cards).

Clearance sale!

To whom it may concern,

I know it's a tad late, but I'm a procrastinator and I hope you are too.

I've had a revelation in gaming lately...a discovery, an epiphany if you will... I don't play games anymore. It's really sad, it is, but it's the truth. I have a first-gen PS2 sitting on my shelf and a mediocre PC on my desk. I have many games for the former and only some for the latter. But I just don't seem to play them much anymore.

I tried, I really tried earlier this year to play through Legend of Dragoon. See, I remember playing a long time ago and not ever finishing it because of a really tough boss battle, and when I saw the game sitting there taunting me with it's unfinished-ness I had to sped the $12 and buy it. I spent about 2 hours every night playing it. I don't remember why I stopped, but I did beat that boss.

I can probably help you with that one... You see, LoD is a big, steaming pile of yard waste, and if you don't throw it down in disgust at some point along the way, you are not human, but some sort of super robot that can resist irritation that would drive a lesser robot bananas, causing it to dance about playing "Shake Your Booty" at impossible speeds.

I find myself reading game news a lot now. I read insert credit for it's quirky news and great writing. I read RPGamer for it's informative news. I read Evil Avatar for some mainstream stuff and interesting commentary. The Magic Box gets me my straight-from-Japan game news, and I have to stay up to date with Penny Arcade. Unfortunately, I don't tend to take that to the next level and actually buy a game and play it. Has this ever happened to you? Will I come out of it?

It happened to me the second I got a job at this site, to be honest; I spend much more time reading about games than I do playing them now, as opposed to before. I do still manage to beat a fair number of the games that get put in front of me, though... At least, the ones that don't suck, at any rate.

I must say one of the main things that bugs me about RPG's in the US is the lack of the Japanese voice track. I know we'll never get it, but it really annoys me when I hear the crappy voice acting in some games. I could live through FFX's voice acting. However, I think the major break for me, that contributed to my split from RPG's and gaming in general, was when I played Xenosaga imported from Japan. Now I know, Xenosaga is not that great a game (okay, the game play is downright crappy). But! the voice acting in the Japanese game is so spot-on that I was impressed.

I played the game for about 2 hours (that was about as long as my friend and I could take trying to decipher the Japanese techno-babble). Shion sounded mature from what I can remember. She sounded like a scientist. Kos-mos sounds monotone, like a just-born android should. The secondary characters in the ship didn't have memorable voices, but they weren't grating or annoying. Unlike the bastardized American version of the game. Shion is very immature, almost like a ditzy 17-19 year old. I think her voice actress is the same one as Yuna in FFX. Kos-mos just sounds like she's trying to hard to be the sexy-but-only-with-mild-personality fetish-android. I feel even more sorry for the people that played all the way through the game in America... from it's downright poor game play and terrible voice acting.

I'm just guessing here, but since you're basing your opinion of this voice acting based upon tone of voice, I'm going to go on the theory that you don't understand Japanese. If you do, I apologize and ignore the following; if you don't, however, bear in mind that what you're hearing is gibberish in what is approximately what you consider to be an appropriate tone of voice. While I would not deign to impugn upon the quality of voice work I've never heard, would you really be all that impressed if an American voice actor read KOS-MOS's lines in a robotic monotone? No, you'd call it cheesy. Just because Japanese happens to sound more musical, and, in the cases of those of us who can't understand it, unintelligble, it does not mean that the voice work is any better. Granted, it is likely that higher profile actors would be interested in doing work for games in Japan, but I'm not all that convinced, especially since an annoying character is an annoying character in any language, and Shion is as annoying as hell.

Now I find Xenosaga and Final Fantasy X-2 just sitting on my shelf, unfinished Legend of Dragoon, never completed FFVIII, never completed Chrono Cross, and several other games lay next to them. I never liked tactical RPG's that much (I find the game play gets stale after 30 hours of the same grid-oriented "action") or I would run out and pick up La Pucelle or Disgaea. My outlook on video gaming is poor, and yet I am addicted to reading the news about them.

I am looking forward to Growlanser Generations, I just hope that Working Designs has the sense to leave the Japanese voice track in. I just got a case-mod set for my PS2 so I can play Japanese stuff which I find more interesting (I hope)... this in anticipation of my life shifting to Japan next year. I'm hoping I can get into games more when I head over there.

I have rambled on a tad long... feel free to pick out talking points that you like from my letter, I was just interested in your take on my situation.

Befuddled, confused, tired and depressed,

My take? You should apply for a news job at RPGamer! Email me if you're interested ^_^ </shameless pimping>

Unfit for Print

Is it possible to delete saved games [in FFTA]???

Nope... Once you get that thing on there, you're stuck with it forever, so you'd better make sure you like the characters you've got, because you'll NEVER GET TO EXPERIMENT EVER! AHAHAHAHAHAHAH! And don't even THINK about trying to start a new game and then saving over one of the old ones, because even if you COULD do that, why would you want to? You want clear space on that cart for lowered wind resistance, right? Right?

That's what I thought.

Hey Cast,
I apologise if I sounded sarcastic in my Suiko-related letter. (Hurrah, my first Quickie!) I honestly didn't mean to. I was just explaining why data transfer wouldn't make sense in order to forestall the inevitable whining from fellow Suiko fankiddies. For the record, I think you're a pretty sharp tack. Aww, feel the love.

-Cranky D.

I have felt the love, and I have to say, it feels a lot like melted cheese... Whatever that means.

Voice acting,
while generally crappy all-around thus far in video games, DOES tend to a give a game a much deeper sense of involvement and atmosphere than mere text could. Giving human emotion to a line enhances its meaning and delivery...but yeah, if you aren't gonna spend several million on top-notch voice actors, don't bother. I might add, however, that Tales of Symphonia has an excellent all-around voice cast...heavy hitters like Tara Strong and that-guy-who-voices-Robin-from-Teen-Titans (and Robin is just SO cool) work well with what's given to them.

Did I mention I absolutely HATE creamsicles? I don't know what this Creamsicle obsession is in your column, but damn do they suck.

- Feep "Snickers Ice Cream Bar!"

"Work well with what's given to them." You, sir, are a true diplomat.. but you can still go suck a lemon for badmouthing Creamsicles. Snickers indeed...


Sadfully, twelve hour workdays and consciousness are not a dynamic duo, and so I must bid you farewell with half the stack of letters still to come. Come it will, however, and I might even throw in some more hilarious double entendres like that one along with it tomorrow! Speaking of "double" and "tomorrow", I would be remiss without throwing in a second topic for your consideration, this current one having been chewed over by the lot of you like the pack of mangy wolves you may or may not be. As such, I must relate to you that I have been suddenly and completely excited by the new and improved Star Ocean TtEoT homepage, and I now want the game down to the depths of my grubby soul. Have you ever had such a radical change of heart based strictly upon some flashy advertising? Notable examples in my past include a shot of the bridge outside Narshe from FFVI, a shot of Wall Market from FFVII... Okay, basically any ad involving an FF title will do it for me, but perhaps you are made of sterner and sturdier stuff? We can only hope...
Andrew Long retracts all statements pertaining to "cold days in August" because it's freaking freezing!



I get eight months of this a year, dammit! August is supposed to be my sanctuary! MY SANCTUARYYYYY!!!!!!

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