Top 10 Hilariously Bad Video Game Dubs
It took video games much longer to develop decent voice acting than it did to develop voice acting in the first place. This was especially true for translated Japanese games, as many of the game companies were completely unprepared at matching lip flaps and matching the language to an English sentence structure and cultural context. This resulted in many games in the PS1 / N64 era having dialogue so poorly written and performed that one couldn't help but laugh. Here are ten of the most ridiculous examples of early dubbed video games, games whose continued popularity is as much due to becoming Internet memes as it is due to their actual quality.
10. Star Fox 64 (N64)
Like many of these games, Star Fox 64 is an influential classic that remains enjoyable to this date. Also like many of these games, it's got absolutely atrocious voice acting. Every single cartoon animal character speaks in a dopey voice with perfect conviction. The vocal qualities range from endearingly stupid (Peppy) to obnoxiously stupid (Slippy) to disturbingly stupid (Pigma). However, the game's dialogue, particularly the infamous "Do a barrel roll" line, has developed a strong following. The bad dialogue was so ironically beloved that when the original voice cast returned for the 3DS remake, they did just as badly, if not worse!
9. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)
The English voice acting of the greatest Castlevania game ever is, at best, the equivalent of an amateur community theatre version of a Shakespeare play. Every performance in the game hams it up so much that the game might raise your cholesterol, but that's part of the charm, as evidenced by the reaction to the redubbed version featured in the PSP's Dracula X Chronicles. For what is a competent dub, but a miserable little pile of secrets?
8. Silent Hill (PS1)
Silent Hill may be the first name in psychological survival horror, but in the English version the atmosphere succeeded in spite of the voice acting, not because of it. The actors sound like they have absolutely no training, and they are just winging it as they read the dialogue off of the pages. The only actor who sounds convincing is Dahlia's actress, and even she chews the scenery like it was Kentucky Fried. Everyone else doesn't have that excuse, particularly not Harry Mason's voice actor. Ideally he would play the character with a little more concern, given how he's looking for his missing daughter in a strange town full of monsters.
7. Devil May Cry (PS2)
The early Devil May Cry titles were superb titles that revolutionized the beat-em-up genre by infusing an unprecedented amount of fluidity and the style to the combat. This fluidity, however, cannot be found in the script, and especially not in the performance of said script. Moments that are supposed to be impressive try so hard to be impressive that they just end up as ridiculous. Even goofier, moments that are supposed to be dramatic are played up so operatically that they're just hilariously pathetic. The worst example is in the first game, when Dante mourns the (apparent) death of his lover Trish and screams "I was supposed to be the one to fill your dark soul with light" with such vigor that his voice literally cracks like that of a child just entering puberty. Yet somehow, Dante's performance manages to be so bad it actually ends up being good by virtue of its sheer audacity.
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Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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