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Author Topic: Can* English Voice Acting ruins Characters in RPGs?  (Read 17278 times)
Sagacious-T
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« on: March 27, 2007, 06:54:27 PM »

So, I've finally forced myself to play past the very beggining of FFXII, and I've gotten to the part where you meet Fran for the first time. My jaw dropped when she spoke, she sounded just whiny and horrible. Every time she talks I cringe. Perhaps it wouldnt have been as bad if I didnt watch the Japanese trailer for the game ages ago, where it had Fran speaking in a deep, sultry voice, one that more suited her looks. Then I hear her in the English dub and she sounds like.. well.. just bad. Just... bad.

The British accents were a bit odd but fitting, I figured the Arcadians had them since most of the Dalmascans sound more American, but then I heard Fran and my heart just sank a bit. I just couldnt take the game seriously so I saved and turned it off.

I am nitpicky but these things are kind of important to me, since Japanese RPGs lean so heavily on characters and plot. I'm not a Japanophile either, since the last game I played, Baten Kaitos, had bad voice acting quality, yet the voices fit the characters so well it wasn't so noticable. But this is just too far.

I thank my lucky starts that Blue Dragon will have Japanese Voice acting included. I also hope Dragon Quest 8 is a bit easier on the ears, I might start playing that instead of FF12. :(
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Fadedsun
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2007, 07:01:21 PM »

I never found it that big of a deal. I'd prefer Japanese voice acting over crappy, English dubs because I can't tell bad Japanese voice acting from good. It all sounds fine to me.
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2007, 08:39:21 PM »

I'll take the shittiest dub over the best Japanese voice acting because:

1.  I hate all things that smack of Japanese popular culture.  It's hard to have a culture without a language, so it counts. :P

2.  Chittering away in a language I can't understand only serves as a distraction.  It certainly does nothing to draw me into a game.  If I had to choose between hearing nothing and hearing Kamehakaneko-sama say konnichiwa to Reikikuliku-chan, I'd definitely pick nothing.
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2007, 08:49:41 PM »

I'd rather have no voice-acting than bad voice-acting (in English). It doesn't ruin a game, or its characters, for me, by any means, but... I prefer the option to turn it off.

Like Fadedsun, I can't tell good from bad in Japanese, because I don't understand the language and its inflections well enough to do so. I do like the way Japanese sounds, but it might become distracting to play a game where the characters were talking in Japanese while I tried to read captions/subtitles in English. If I did particularly like a character, and found I preferred their Japanese voice, it would be nice if more games offered that option.
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Dice
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2007, 08:55:01 PM »

I've never been turned off a game for shoddy voices.  I find them amusing (if not funny) rather.

Still, more than any complain about voices...

JAPANESE: I get commentary from on-lookers or listen-inner's who are wondering and making fun of why I am playing a game in a foreign language, and immitating some of the high-pitches or screams.

ENGLISH: Gay dialogue.  AKA Kingdom Hearts rambling about how "friendship is our strength and keeps us together" is no better than some children's program preaching the same thing.  Its kinda embarassing. =)

My main beef is content rather than presentation.
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2007, 09:27:55 PM »

I distinctly remember Magic Knight Rayearth for the Saturn making me want to cut someone in the worst way possible, so I'm going to have to say yes, though for the most part English voiceovers are good enough now that it isn't really an issue.  

I might have liked Grandia more if it wasn't acted by what I called janitors.

Even worse (better?) example was Dark Wizard.  Awesome game.  Too bad the voice acting was reaaally bad.  Fortunately there wasn't a lot of it, unlike say Grandia.
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Sagacious-T
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2007, 09:36:13 PM »

It's just like watching a foreign film with subtitles. I just prefer the content in it's original form I guess. Just the whole dubbing and twisting the dialogue to match their lips thing, plus most RPG voice acting that gets localized is done by people reading scripts, and not people reading their lines with each other in a studio.
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2007, 09:52:56 PM »

Although it seems it takes a lot to REALLY bug me with actual voice acting, I agree with Fadedsun. However, I do think that the overall move to using lots of voice acting and cinematics could actually be harmful for RPGs to some degree. I'd probably be able to tolerate cheesy scenes better if they weren't being acted out or at least voiced, although the right flavor of cheese could just be hilarious as hell. Plus it winds up taking up more of the budget/time that could go for other things like refining the game or making it larger.

I dunno. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the results and feel they really helped for some games. But I don't need it in all of them, and I think I'd tolerate some of them more if they just shut the fuck up.
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Tlonuqbar
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2007, 10:21:24 PM »

Yeah, some of the worst moments in games can be sheer excess of irrelevant, uninteresting dialogue.  The thing is, I've seen it happen in games without voice acting almost as much as I've seen it happen in games with voice acting (one of the worst offenders has GOT to be the Golden Sun games, where almost every bit of dialogue was mind-numbingly boring...almost to the point of being psychologically unbearable).  It all comes down to this: with regard to overall impact on a game, bad writing is far more damaging than bad acting in almost all cases.  Even a poor translation of interesting writing is preferable (IMHO) to a great translation of dull writing (Compare FFT to, well, Golden Sun for example; the first is so badly translated as to stagger the mind, but the CONTENT of the writing shines through the garbled English, whereas the second translates the original Japanese competently, but there is simply no "'there' there."*).


*Borrowed from the famous quote by Gertrude Stein: "The trouble with Oakland is that when you get there, there isn't any there there."
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Leo
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2007, 10:37:40 PM »

I've been playing through Atelier Iris 1 recently, and I tried out both the English dub and Japanese voice track, to see which I prefer more, and I found out, in the long run, the Japanese voices suited my ears more. Reason I say that, because of the context in which the voice acting is being conducted in a cutesy series like the Atelier series.

I suppose it all depends on the RPG we're talking about. If it's a dark and serious game, then that's a whole other discussion. I tend to shoot for Japanese voice acting in fluffy-feeling RPGs.

In the long run, I agree with some here that I would rather play through a voiceless RPG. I pay attention to plot and gameplay, mostly, so voice acting isn't important.
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2007, 11:47:38 PM »

i thought the voice for fran was quite apropiate. maybee you need to get some and um.. you know actually hear a black woman speak. there was many things i hated about ffxii but the voice acting isnt one of them. for the record i hated fran but her voice wasnt even close to the reason.
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2007, 12:12:25 AM »

Quote
I'd probably be able to tolerate cheesy scenes better if they weren't being acted out or at least voiced


I think this is also one of the reasons for liking japanese versions of games(And anime) better. It's not so much it being better, but it masks how silly what you're watching/playing is and holds suspension of disbelief better.

Though that's not so much the case with FFXII, which wasn't poorly written. I didn't find Fran's voice to be annoying or anything, but I wouldn't say it was well done either. She sounded..I don't know. Bored? Timid? Not really fitting for a sultry bunny girl. Now if FFXIII has a librarian joining your party then nab that actress back up :P
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2007, 01:06:02 AM »

I've seen a lot of people complain about Fran's English voice, but I quite never understood the complaints. I think she sounded fine most of the time.

As for if bad VA can ruin characters or a game - yes, it most certainly can. Take Magna Carta for an example. Sure, the game is not very good overall, but the truly horrendous voice acting propels it to a level of craptasticity that ensures that I'm never again going to play it. The same goes for Rogue Galaxy. I'm still only on the god damn jungle planet and I just don't want to keep playing because I fear I might run into another idiotic inventor character what one of those annoying fucking voices.

But on the other hand, good voice acting can also improve a game. Case on point - Digital Devil Saga. Would I have liked the game(s) as much if they had bad voice acting, or no VA at all? Possibly, but some of the emotional impact of the story would most certainly have been lost. I do, in general, prefer Japanese voice acting over English (living in a country were everything is subtitled rather than dubbed I don't have any problems at all listening to things in another language), but I know I'm in a minority so I just accept the fact that most games are going to released with English only VA.
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Spoony Mage
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2007, 01:23:56 AM »

Yes, voice acting can ruin a character for me.  Not because the acting is bad, but because it's *too* typical.  How many games have I been annoyed at because the "cute" girl had an annoyingly squeaky voice?  Or because the main hero is trying to emulate Lion-O in every possible way?  

I don't know about you guys, but I'm one of those fans who wishes that english VAs would NOT try to parrot every little inflection their japanese counterpart does.  It does not sound natural and 8/10 times, it just sounds way too awkward.  I'd rather the VA does things naturally, while still remaining true to that character.  And yes, it CAN be done, I don't care what kind of game it is, dammit!
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2007, 02:48:55 AM »

On the Fran issue: It may just be that you have expectations you need to put aside to get a more objective opinion of her voice. I found it rather attractive in its own way. Was it sultry? No. But for me it added a bit of an exotic touch, which is what Fran's all about. It's as though she's speaking English well enough, but like some first generationeers, there's still a hint of accent. I found that pretty cool.

Bad voice acting on a whole doesn't necessarily break a game, but I always appreciate the option to turn it off. The issue of course is what's more fitting. Something that transcends language is the mood conveyed by the character. If the tone is too flat or reserved in a dramatic scene, no matter what language you're speaking, it's going to ruin the delivery. But then, voice acting has reached a good standard these days, so I don't find much to complain about.
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