Thursday, 6 December 2012

Vay - A Reminder of How Bad English Voice Acting Could Be in the 90s

Sandor, Pottel, and Rachel escape the volcano.
In cut scenes like this, there's plenty of terrible acting.
I decided to replay a bit of Vay on the Sega CD over the last few days, and it's really reminding me how bad the voice acting could be in video games in the mid 90s. Granted this sort of thing was in its infancy during this period. On the console front, unless you had a CD-ROM add-on, you weren't going to be exposed to much of this, and as far as PCs were concerned it was still pretty pricey to get something that could play a lot of the big CD-based games of the day. So, unless you were well off yourself, or had super amazing parents with no qualms about forking out several hundred dollars for a TurboGrafx CD or Sega CD, let alone a couple thousand for a gaming PC, you weren't going to be exposed to games with voice acting, and as such the market was understandably small.

Nonetheless, wow, Vay's voice acting is really bad. The narrator sounds like someone jokingly impersonating his grandfather, and the forced emotion from every other character is terrible. Thankfully, cut scenes with actual spoken dialogue are far and few between, but when it comes along it's a sight to see.

I'm sure if I'd actually played the game when it first came out, I'd be a bit more impressed, but as it stands I'm not. Instead Vay reminds me of just how bad English voice acting was in gaming, as well as anime for that matter, during the mid 90s. It's come a really long way, especially as far as games are concerned. Put Vay up against Dragon Age or Final Fantasy XIII, and the difference is night and day.

Other than that, the game is reasonably enjoyable. I do like the translation liberties that Working Designs took while localizing it, adding some interesting humor to the mix. I'll probably try and see it through to the end. In a lot of ways, the game is very typical of JRPGs of the period, but it's actually challenging (largely thanks to unexpected difficulty spikes), and I kinda like that.

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