What’s in a Voice?

Nightshade on Playstation 2

I finally got my hands on Nightshade today, and while it seems to lack the luster that Shinobi had, one thing sticks out as a glaring fault in my mind: Hibana’s voice.

You see, Hibana is a badass ninja chick. She slices and dices her way through hordes of ninjas, robots, and Hellspawn without breaking a sweat (or a nail, for that matter). But every time she speaks, I can’t help but think of her as your everyday, typical, stay-at-home mom type. Her voice lacks emotion in almost every situation, and it seems void of the
intensity one expects a ninja to have. It’s almost as if she’s bored with the lines given to her, or lead such a stoic lifestyle that she doesn’t know what anger, sadness, and intensity are.

“Just turn on the Japanese voice track!” you say. Why would I want to do that when I don’t know Japanese? It can’t be that hard to find American voice actors that are up to snuff, especially when you’re following up a hit game like Shinobi. It just doesn’t make sense to me. When a character is given a voice (be it in a cartoon, video game, movie, or what have you), it should reflect their personality or their mindset. I could understand if Hibana were the cool, calm, and collected type, but she just sounds bored. I know that’s the last thing I’d be if I were slashing up the denizens of Hell.

Note to Sega: while it doesn’t make or break a game, voice acting (along with all sound effects and music) is supposed to enhance the gaming experience and help absorb the player in the game-world. When they do the opposite, it can make the game a lot less fun.

About the author

FlowingMindspin

FlowingMindspin cut his teeth on beating up Generic Dudes and icing zombies while he was growing up in the early '90s. After he turned all of the thugs in River City into honor students he found himself drawn to the more in-depth experiences gaming had to offer. Now a huge JRPG buff with a soft spot for the classics that filled his youth with joy (and anger... so much anger), he's turned to the wonder that is the Internet to spew vitriol and wax nostalgic.

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