Pie in the Face

Pie in the Face
A Comedy of Errors

Brett Staebell | 22 Sep 2009 13:01
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Even better is the Ghosts `n Goblins finale, which pulls gaming's first Shyamalan-esque ending by revealing "This room is an illusion and is a trap devisut by Satan" before forcing you to play the entire game over again. What better way to encourage players than by piquing their curiosity as to what deranged bit of prose would be awarded upon a second completion? Anyone "courageour" enough to "make rapid progres" a second time would not only get the princess, but "feel strongth welling in [his] body." Strongth? Sounds like he might want to see a doctor about that.

What You Say?!

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Translations have by and large improved since those golden days of Engrish, but new tech opened the door for new hilarity: voice acting. Giving actual voices to the text on the screen seems like a great idea on paper. What better way to immerse players in your game than to have a character come alive through spoken dialogue? As it turns out, almost any other way.

Resident Evil helped pioneer the survival horror genre, combining dark atmosphere, genuine scares and scarce ammunition to create the first videogame to feel like a zombie movie. How appropriate, then, that the conversations are reminiscent of a poorly acted Army of Darkness screen test? It's a testament to the sensational badness of the acting and script that the only thing providing levity in what would otherwise be a dire situation is the characters' apparent lack of appreciation for the danger they are facing. The examples are too many to count, but the brightest gem in Resident Evil's crown glimmers when Barry narrowly saves Jill from a standard "mechanized ceiling crusher" deathtrap. "You were almost a Jill sandwich!" he chortles, earning a giggly "You're right!" from Jill. You would think somebody had just been chucking actual loaves of bread at her, which would at least make for a real sandwich - they already have the cheese.

The trend of inspired gameplay complemented by voice work outsourced to a community college acting course is not limited to this one example. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night birthed the Metroidvania genre that still sees almost annual updates, but many fans most keenly remember it for its clumsy dialogue. My personal favorite is Alucard's encounter with the Succubus, wherein neither character seems to have any idea what the context of their lines is. They vary tones, explore inflections and even exercise artistic license on how to pronounce "vampire," a daring move for a series so ensconced in the bloodsucker's mythology. This might even fall under the "poor translation" clause if not for the team that brought the script to horrible un-life, where even now it skulks across the globe looking for victims.

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