On Silent Protagonists

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Is it just me or does the article's last paragraph contradict its tagline?

I'm just glad that another person -- particularly a big name -- agrees that Samus having a voice isn't bad in itself, it was just the execution that ruined it.

I'm hard-pressed to say, though, that Samus ever really was a silent protagonist in the traditional style. She has had lines since Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion, which came out at the same time as Prime, put her narrative at center stage. Really, it was only in the Primes that Samus was ever a distinctly silent protagonist, and they weren't even made by Nintendo itself, so it seems to me more like an accident of history than anything that she was ever portrayed as one.

Online, I'll go stubborn, aloof prick almost every time.

Left4dead did this well. You can click to let out small bits of character dialogue or your own, or, just play it silently.

I disagree that fans always complain about innovation. I for one said on forums that I thought it was a good idea if they really worked to pull it off - which they didn't sadly.

I mean, how the heck could they end up giving the voice acting job to the same damn woman that gives voice to princess Peach?

Still, I have a different view on the Zelda game - mostly because it isn't and should never become very character-based.

I hate when they add voices to RPG's.

Im a 19 year old african amarican who speaks beyond litteritly ((so much so it pisses my friends off)) and when they let me design my character to look however i want, i always make me. Im vain, yes in know.

But then, BAM! Dorky non-fitting voice. My commander Shepard? Glory Black man i invision myself to be in 20 years. Voice? Angry white dude. It just throws off the whole thing about our imagination. When the character is scilent, we can put to him ((or her)) whatever voice we want, be it jewish pervert who looks in windows every day, or Space Marine commander with a constipation problem!

SirBryghtside:

snowman6251:
I'm curious as to who Yahtzee would have voice Gordon Freeman in the event he begins to speak.

It woud be totally awesome if he speaks as his epic last words when doing whatever it is he does in episode 3 that will kill him.

Damnit, I would have Yahtzee himself as the voice for Gordon Freeman! Oh that would be awesome.

I wasn't sure what my opinion was of the whole talking Samus thing. In general characterisation is good. However when I heard about cowering before Ridley, who Samus' has repeatedly made her bitch over the years, it seems like they may as well have just cast a new main character. It'd be Solid Snake seeing a Metal Gear and running away to a fallout shelter.

Samus is a much more interesting character without her voice or back story. That's why I refuse to do anything with Other M.

Still looks a bit interesting though.

I agree a bit with the silent protagonist thing. I recently finished Persona 3 and that is a LONG LONG game. One of the better games I've ever played BUT. Silent protagonist...sort of. He actually DOES have a voice, to call on the many Personas in his arsenal and that's it. For as involved and complicated and good as the story is in the game, it would have helped to have your nameable main character say SOMETHING, even if it was just text.

I also watched a review of the Other M on gametrailers just to try and hear how bad the voice was. O_O Oh my LORD there was no emotional response in that voice. And then to read some of the comments made me feel like I was in some kind of bizarro universe.

One such comment was "Oooh, how dare you complain about giving a soulless, emotionless voice to a soulless emotionless character! It fit perfectly!"

It almost sounds like instead of going for zero emotion for a hardened bounty hunter, if they shifted it to a world weary tone and then interjecting anger at key fighting scenes, that might have actually helped a lot.

Perhaps they picked a half dead sounding voice so it wouldn't be incompatible with the previously imagined voices of Samus from fans, which (considering it failed) seems a bit souless. I can think of a few voice actors that would fit her character, and whoever you pick, people are going to get used to anyway, and as Yahtzee said, Samus has been voiceless all this time but in recent instalments has been given something of a personality, so it's not like the voice casters had nothing to go on. Yet they chose nothing... In the form of something... Namely a robotic voice.

I always thought that Gordon Freeman was mute because the idea is you are Gordon Freeman, and that you kind of fill in your own dialog. Like when they say "how you going Freeman?" *pause* "that's good," and you fill in the pause with "go fuck yourself Magnuson."

If you want a silent protagonist in other media, look no further than the classic Blaxploitation film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. The actor that Martin Van Peebles had wanted to do the part refused on the grounds that the main character only had something like 5 lines in the whole film! So he did it himself (and ended up getting a venereal disease in the process, but that's another story). Not only does he hardly say anything, his face barely expresses anything, either. It's a really interesting choice, which absolutely makes the movie.

I constantly referance "Saint's Row 2" as an example of why character customization and having a voiced protaganist do not need to be mutually exclusive. Voice selection and character creation should become a standardized feature for games in general.

That said, I do notice that you seem to be skipping around the primary complaint behind the voice acting, and instead focusing on it's quality and purpose. The biggest fan complaint seems to be that Samus' personality is entirely differant from what was established in previous Metroid games, which despite their lack of voicing her, did manage to convey a pretty good sense of what the character was like.

kael013:
ODST was based on old detective film-noir. The Rookie was the detective going around picking up clues to help him find his squadmates. That was his whole purpose: to find the things to advance the plot and give the player a hubworld to screw around in. What kind of personality do you give a person like that? Also, if you read the backstory, the Rookie was the only survivor of his entire reaction force before he got re-assigned to the squad in-game.

As for Halo: REACH they didn't put 6 on the box art bBecause Noble 6 is supposed to be based on You. You choose what the armor looks like and you choose whether that character is male or female. They didn't want to give a definitive appearance for the character cuz it would differ from player to player. Also, Noble 6 does talk.

First of all, having the Rookie play detective is not an excuse to make a character silent or not have any character at all. Also, being the only survivor and all that means nothing to an ODST. They ride down to hell feet first not expecting to come back up. I mean, if the Rookie is that much of a wimp to be in constant shock from losing his squad mates, then he's not an ODST.

As for Noble 6, they could have put his basic armor set on the cover. Every game that has a character that you can change the outfit of does that. I haven't played the game yet, but back before it came out, Bungie said that he would be silent, I did not expect them to change it.

Xocrates:
That paragraph about Saints Row 2? Yeah, that's the reason I uninstalled the game and swore never to play it again. If I'm asked to create a character, I would appreciate if I have some sort of control over their actions and personality.

Pft, you were never being asked to create a character, but a psychopath. Anyone who has played a saint's row game should already know that.

Don't understand Yahtzee's prob with Reach.

There is a healthy balance between the need for silence and the need for a voice. I am glad that you expounded on it in this EP.

While I think that Metroid Prime had the right idea and The Other M was a huge mistake on many levels,

Samus was NOT a silent protagonist. The entire opening of Super Metroid was a monologue delivered by the our lady. As soon as video games had a reasonable method by which to assign her dialogue, they did so. It was actually Metroid Prime that regressed her character back into silence.

They were just fine to assign her a voice, but somehow I doubt that the space-pirate slaying, xenophobic genocidist Samus would have such a mild and weak personality.

Michelle Rodriguez, but white and blonde, was the personality that I had always pictured. The kind of female who has the expert badge for ass-kicking. The woman who took down Mother Brain using her own enegies against her to avenge the death of the only alien she hasn't transfigured into vapor, would deliver to Team Ninja's adaptation a sweet and sudden ovarian delight.

"Any last words?"

"Go to hell."

"Sorry, didn't catch that."

Come on Saint's Row 3, I don't want to die before I play you!

Anoctris:
Don't understand Yahtzee's prob with Reach.

It's Halo.

But even if you say that the greater emphasis on narrative (which made the games more linear and caught the ire of many Metroid fans), it still doesn't necessitate Samus having a voice. The heart of Metroid has always been about discovering the Universe in which Samus lives. It's not about Samus so much as it is about her world. Besides, she's never needed a voice to show character before.

She's always been portrayed as stoic, but she's had a consistent characterization throughout the series. Soparing the hatching in Metroid 2 and donating it to science in Super Metroid demonstrated her compassion. And don't forget that she was visibly saddened by the destruction of the Chozo Temple at the end of the first Metroid Prime game, and mourned the deaths of her fellow bounty hunters at the end of Prime 3. She's always been shown as a strong and compassionate character, who certainly wouldn't break down in front of Ridley and need a token black sidekick to save her. That characterization via her actions, not to mention the backstory-via-scans in Prime, were a much better way to tell a story in a Metroid game, and it worked.

This is why Fusion was seen as the black sheep of the series before Other M was released. The effective indirect characterization had been tossed aside for bad anime drama, and completly missed why Samus had such a mystique.

SirBryghtside:

snowman6251:
I'm curious as to who Yahtzee would have voice Gordon Freeman in the event he begins to speak.

It woud be totally awesome if he speaks as his epic last words when doing whatever it is he does in episode 3 that will kill him.

How do we know that Gordon is going to die?

Jumpingbean3:

SirBryghtside:

snowman6251:
I'm curious as to who Yahtzee would have voice Gordon Freeman in the event he begins to speak.

It woud be totally awesome if he speaks as his epic last words when doing whatever it is he does in episode 3 that will kill him.

How do we know that Gordon is going to die?

Valve said that episode 3 was going to be the last story about Gordon, so I kind of assumed from that.

Might be wrong, though.

AcacianLeaves:

Sturmdolch:

AcacianLeaves:

And this, my good man, is why I felt that anyone who called Bioshock one of the greatest storytelling experiences in gaming was off their damn rocker.

... Because he'd just talk to himself? Or what? I mean, he did in the opening sequence, but after, he picks up a one-way radio transmitting device that gives him directions.

He's a character that has nothing to say about the strange setting he finds himself in after a completely random plane crash? He has nothing to say when he feels compelled to inject himself with a lightning shot. He has nothing to say when he's led around by Atlas. He has nothing to say to Fontaine, Dr. Tenenbaum, or maybe Andrew Ryan when all is revealed?

The protagonist has nothing to say about any of the events in the story, and thus the story fails on every level. Don't get me wrong, it's a great game that's a lot of fun and the setting is fantastic, but the actual meat of the story fails due to the silent protagonist.

He didn't need a lot of lines, but keeping him quiet except for a few lines in the opening sequence was a failure on the part of the developers. It looks like they'll be fixing that with Infinite.

Or maybe what HE says is what YOU say as the player. The MC's thoughts are you own and the confusion YOU feel as the player is the same confusion the protagonist experiences. If the character did talk then it would have been just reflective monologues which would have been jarring to the player and broke the immersion of the game. Again the best method of storytelling is show not tell and instead of the game giving you monologues about the character's back story you just saw a few photos of his childhood home and flashes into the past. That was all you were given as that was all you needed.

I pondered about silent protagonists as I replayed Twilight Princess today. Link would not work as a talking character, but he is also not someone you're really supposed to project onto: We see his reaction shots all the time, and he clearly has his own opinions, however predictable. He's not a true projection-plate avatar; his silence is simply a flavor, like Snoopy's.

And as such a flavor, it's not for every character. Link works well silent because he's such an archetypal young hero -- there is absolutely nothing standout about him, or his personality, or his history, so it makes sense that he says nothing, because he'd have nothing interesting to say. He is the stock hero, and we would tire of his lines as quickly as he said them.

Samus, on the other hand, has an interesting and reasonably complex past, so she deserves to have a voice. Maybe not what we got in Other M, but still something more than mere silence.

Personally, I don't like silent protagonists; it just seems boring to have the main character never speak. I frankly wouldn't mind Samus, Mario and Link being voiced in future games.

Oh, may I add that Other M is not a prequal to the series. It takes place after Super Metroid, which means as of now, it's the second to last game in the timeline. You know, I don't really mind including samus's backstory to the storyline, but how they did it (as if they were shoving it in the face of the people who are learning it for the first time) was just a cheap trick to make the gamer emotionally blindsided to the melodramatic events of the storyline.

I haven't played through the WHOLE storyline, I called it 3hrs. in, but I'm betting that the Chozo, the bird people who actually RAISED samus, was never mentioned. If somehow they were in their rightful respect, I'm ready to shut up.

FanZ26:
Personally, I don't like silent protagonists; it just seems boring to have the main character never speak. I frankly wouldn't mind Samus, Mario and Link being voiced in future games.

MARIO OTHER M

Features fully voiced movies!!

Mario: I never knew my-a parents.
*Dramatic Flashback*
Mario:Yoshi has-a been-a both of a a-mother and a-father to me.
*More dramatic flashbacks*
Mario: Now the princess is signaling a-me for a-help. Her cries can be interpreted as a mother's call.
*Freezes Scared at Bowser's fight, Luigi comes to the rescue only to be thrown in the lava. Toadsworth authories Mario to use the cape.*

LOL

i have not played other M yet myself as my wii bricked mere days before it's release, however, nothing anyone has described as going against samus' personality has actually gone against samus' personality. the manga, which was written during the 2d era set her personality as everone has described in other M.

Super Mario RPG, from all the way back in 1996, often mined Mario's muteness for humorous effect. He was the only character that didn't talk, and many jokes in the game revolved around characters either noticing, or failing to notice, Mario's muteness. Additionally, he is compensated for his muteness with an uncanny physics-defying miming ability akin to that of a cartoon character.
PS I never played Other M but just looking at some gameplay footage, even outside of cutscenes, was enough. Taken as a piece of Metroid canon, it fails humorously.

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