Some people can’t act worth a damn (except for Andrew, he was a theater kid in high school).
This is especially true in the realm of videogames, particularly in the 90s, where the idea of real voices permeating through our TV speakers as we played was a sight to behold. The reasoning behind bad acting in games can be a bevy of things: budget constraints, poor writing/localization or unqualified actors. Even fantastic voice actors like Paul Eiding (of Metal Gear Solid fame) can’t shine if the quality of the writing is cringe-worthy.
Even so, bad game dialogue can be a blessing in that it can create some of the most unintentionally hilarious moments while one plays. Love it or hate it, games have it in spades, and so we’d like to share some of that cheese with you.
Please feel free to leave your own favorite example of awful game dialogue and/or voice acting in the comments below.
“Tribute? You steal men’s souls, and make them your slaves!” – Richter Belmont from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS2)
It’s really difficult to just pick one line of bad dialogue in a game that has such an endless supply of it, but the exchange Richter Belmont has with Dracula at the beginning of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is utter cheese.
Both voice actors seem like they’re trying way too hard to be dramatic. This is immediately and painfully obvious with Richter’s voice actor’s awful delivery of the character’s allegations against Dracula’s treachery. While Dracula’s voice does feel fitting for the character, there are no accolades to be had for the hammy writing or awkward stresses in the following line: “I was called here by huuuuuumans, who wish to pay meee, tribute!”
Even so, as corny as this exchange was, it has proved legendary. To Castlevania fans, this scene’s dialogue is as amusing as it is cringeworthy. It’s so much fun to quote that by the time it was replaced with more competent voice actors and writing in the PSP version found within Dracula X Chronicles, it simply didn’t feel right. Nothing could top Dracula’s brief dismissal of a man as a “miserable little pile of secrets.”
Awful voice acting that you end up missing when it’s replaced. Imagine that.
- Patrick Kulikowski
“What am I fighting for?!” – Zero from Mega Man X4 (PS1)
I’ll be honest. I thought this scene was well done when I was eight years old. I’ll be honest again, it’s almost unbearably awful now that I’m in my early twenties, and not even nostalgia can save it.
To be clear, it’s a very emotional moment. Zero’s semi-love interest and deus ex guilt-complex is killed by his own hands, causing him to sink into a deep introspection. He questions his motives for fighting and the race relations between Reploids and humans. Now, this sounds interesting on paper, but painful when done by Zero’s voice actor. He sounds like a stereotypical pre-pubescent suburban child coming to terms with his sudden and developing interest in women.
And the part which is meant to encapsulate his grief and pain is turned into a laughable pan-out that sounds more like what happens when I stub my toe on a dresser. Unfortunately, later games were not spared awful voice acting either, which has only made me more appreciative of Japanese Dub options and the good old-fashioned, simple beeping of progressive text on the screen.
- Tom Farndon
“Don’t come! Don’t come!” – Any Bystander from House of the Dead 2 (Arcade)
Oh House of the Dead. Not only is it just a fun way to spend even more money at the movie theater arcade, it serves as a great two-player zombie shoot-em-up. The original was full of enough campy dialogue and plot to fill a zombie-infested mansion, but House of the Dead 2 took it to another innuendo-filled level.
In the first stage as you shoot your way through the mutant-infested streets of Venice, you will find yourself trying to rescue several hapless bystanders on the verge of having their brains nommed out by zombies. In English, one of us might say “get away” (probably with a lot more cussing involved) but in Japanese, you would say something along the lines of “Acchi ni ike” which more or less transliterates as: “Do not come closer to me.”
But of course, due to Sega’s funky translating, we get some VERY literal Japanese-to-English dialogue, as the victims scream “Don’t come, don’t come!” whenever approached by an enemy. This unintentionally hilarious–and quite distracting–dialogue is peppered throughout this game, which is already full of horrible line-deliveries from its Google-translated script. The best part? Play a few other light-gun shooters from around this era and you’ll frequently find the same hostages or victims shouting the same suggestive command.
- Maxwell Coviello
“I should have been the one to fill your dark soul with liiiiiight!” – Dante from Devil May Cry (PS2)
It’s no secret that Dante is a badass. Everything he does, he does with style. So when you take a character that shows nothing but pure adrenaline-fueled demon murdering rage and suddenly place him in a mopey scene, it’s going to sound odd.
While 99-percent of the dialogue sounds great, there’s one line that’s shouted by Dante that will break your ears. As Dante holds Trish’s body in his hands and woefully regrets not saving her, he lets out a voice-cracking scream as if he had just hit puberty. And to make things even more awkward, his scream echoes through the air.
While I understand that this is meant to be a sad scene, the change from his usual strong and confident voice to one of a sad and lonely teen simply doesn’t work. The infamy that this single line has garnered among Devil May Cry fans has even spread to Ninja Theory’s DmC in the form of an achievement.
He really should have been the one to fill her dark soul with light.
- Allain Richard
For more examples of bad videogame voice acting and dialogue, check out Audio Atrocities.