Voice acting and voice directing in the Final Fantasy series.



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Shamdeo

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So since there are a good number of Final Fantasy titles with voice acting now, I wanted to start a discussion about them. What do you think Square Enix has done right or wrong in their approach to voice acting or voice direction? How much of a role does the game's dialogue play regardless of the acting quality? Is tone or pitch-matching a Japanese voice actor effective in preserving the sound of the original game or does it detract with uncanny performances?

Instead of listing what performances you thought were good, meh, or bad -- take the time to collect your general thoughts and leave a response about your feelings below! If you feel compelled to list an example, please explain why you feel that it was a good or bad piece of voice acting or direction.

References to other medias' approach to voice acting and direction are also welcome, just be sure to expound on what you think.
 

Pinwheel

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Is tone or pitch-matching a Japanese voice actor effective in preserving the sound of the original game or does it detract with uncanny performances?
I've never found Square-Enix personally guilty of this, but I don't listen to much Japanese voice acting for SE games. This is something that's nice if the voice actors sound alike in both languages, but otherwise it's absolutely stupid to try and make the original lines sound the same. After the translations are actually scripted, the lines SHOULD sound different. If you aren't giving the actor the freedom to say them how they think it should be said within the direction they've been given, it usually sounds forced.

But yeah, Square Enix personally has decent voice acting for their games. They don't overuse the same voice actors for things, nor do they pick voice actors who are overused in general, which is a large mistake anime tends to have.
 

Techy

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Really liked voice acting in FFX and FFXII. Tidus in FFX and Balthier in FFXII were my favourites.
 

Pinwheel

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Instead of listing what performances you thought were good, meh, or bad -- take the time to collect your general thoughts and leave a response about your feelings below! If you feel compelled to list an example, please explain why you feel that it was a good or bad piece of voice acting or direction.
Seems like nobody really payed attention too much to this part.
 

Wehrmacht

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Overall I feel like XII has had the best voice-acting in the series thus far, and I feel as if the hiring of stage actors played a large part in this.

Anime voice actors (which tend to get hired a lot for japanese games as well) tend to unfortunately be the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality, which pains me to say because most of them are just passionate fans who need good voice direction so they can have a chance of excelling. However, hiring more mainstream voice actors for traditional western animation such as John Dimaggio, who voiced Migelo and Gilgamesh in FFXII, tend to yield much better results. In Dimaggio's case he's obviously had a very prolific career with shows such as Futurama, so he clearly has a lot of experience, but even with just a cast of relative unknown stage actors (which most of XII was if I recall correctly), they tend to emote better and make the dialogue flow much less awkwardly due to their specific training.

I understand that getting prolific VA's may not come cheap, but as far as I'm concerned, you get what you pay for.
 

Pinwheel

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I wouldn't say the anime voice actors FF gets are typically bad. They're just okay, no real shining moments in their performances. It's why FF4's voice acting is simply okay, nothing great. The budget was small for a DS game so they hired who they could get:
Yuri Lowenthal
Liam O'Brian
Sam Riegal
Karen Strassman

Off of the top of my head, that is. Typically if you get people who do voice acting AND motion capture(ie. the fabulous troy baker), the acting is much higher quality because they can get into the situations better.

it also doesn't hurt if they actually have a ton of range like Dave Wittenberg.
 

Gexus

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It definitely took them some time to master voice acting properly in their games, but now they're doing more or less an excellent job with it, both with the Japanese and English dubs. The FFX voice acting wasn't all too good, where the NPC's really shined, but the main characters (especially Tidus and Yuna) were a bit bad.

Only thing that kinda bothers me is that voice acting kinda limits your imagination, since I really loved putting my own thoughts and voice into the characters I played in older Final Fantasies. But I guess that's a really deep discussion on its own.
 

Haeralis

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In most games post FFX, Square has done a great job with voice acting. FFXII in particular had a fantastic line up of voice acting combined with a very good localization. Its not even the exception though; I couldn't really say that any of the recent FF games had poor voice acting, though FFXIII has mediocre (if that) dialogue which is unfortunate.
 

Wehrmacht

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I wouldn't say the anime voice actors FF gets are typically bad. They're just okay, no real shining moments in their performances. It's why FF4's voice acting is simply okay, nothing great. The budget was small for a DS game so they hired who they could get:
Yuri Lowenthal
Liam O'Brian
Sam Riegal
Karen Strassman
It's honestly more the voice direction than anything else. Liam O'Brien is apparently REALLY REALLY REALLY good in Nier as the Grimoire Weiss, though I haven't heard any of his dialogue. He also was pretty decent in Persona 3 as Akihiko. I'm not too familiar with how the process of recording lines works, but I know a voice director picks which recordings are used so they have a big influence in how it all sounds in the end
 

Pinwheel

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Tidus Laugh 10 HOURS - YouTube

Voice acting at its finest ladies and gentlemen
The laughing scene in FFX really needs to stop being used as an example of the acting overall for X. The reason Tidus and Yuna laugh like that is because they're forcing it, obviously making it cheesy. That's the entire point of that scene. X's acting wasn't THAT bad. THERE. I SAID IT.
 

OathkeeperRoxas XIII

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The laughing scene in FFX really needs to stop being used as an example of the acting overall for X. The reason Tidus and Yuna laugh like that is because they're forcing it, obviously making it cheesy. That's the entire point of that scene. X's acting wasn't THAT bad. THERE. I SAID IT.
I know, a horrible example. Once I played the game, I understood the scene and that was two years ago.
 

Magnus

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The amount of voice work in X was very impressive at the time. Granted, not all lines have aged with grace. But the same can be said about Metal Gear Solid, an equally as ambitious project in its own time frame.

The way I see it, XII had better acting, but X definitely had better voices. And I mean that literally. The acting in XII was the best the series has seen so far, with very nicely delivered (and well written) dialogue. Unfortunately, many of the actors in it also sound very similar to one another. Here's where X truly shines. You can actually look away from the screen and still be able to easily tell whether it's Lulu, Tidus, Wakka or whoever it might be who's talking. This is a quality that I think is rarely mentioned when it comes to voice acting these days, because everyone seems to focus only on the acting part. The quality of the actual voice is just as important. Not everyone has a pleasant voice for radio, for example. It's the same thing with voice acting. XII had Fran and Balthier that stick out as having some personality in their voices. Everyone else have very generic sounding voices. XIII was quite balanced. It had no major highs, but also no particular lows either.

Some people will always prefer the Japanese voices no matter what. I do tend to watch anime or play games in Japanese quite often if it's an option. However, I'm not a purist per se. It's just that many English dubs tend to be really bad so I would much rather just listen to a language that I am not fluent in, read the subtitles and be blissfully unaware of the quality of the dub.

That being said, while I also think that in most cases American English is not a very good match with a typically Japanese setting, British English tend to do the trick for me. Balthier just wouldn't have sounded as good with an American accent, regardless of the acting.
 

wii.red24

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The laughing scene in FFX really needs to stop being used as an example of the acting overall for X. The reason Tidus and Yuna laugh like that is because they're forcing it, obviously making it cheesy. That's the entire point of that scene. X's acting wasn't THAT bad. THERE. I SAID IT.
Jesus chill dude it was a joke I think FF X has some of the most solid voice acting. I just find that scene to be hillarious in my opinion.
 

Koji

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ffx has the best voice acting
I'll second that.

The Final Fantasy voices are generally good with the exception of Mena Suvari as Aerith. The voices and accents fit the characters almost perfectly. When I watched Advent Children, the characters sounded pretty much as I had imagined them to when I was a kid. Obviously having VAs won't utilize our imaginations as much as the older games, and we cant make characters sound the way we want them to, but VAs defintely add to the entertainment value of a game.

FFX actors pulled me so deep into the story of the game that I was disappointed when a scene ended. Also in battles (most notably the final battle of FFX2) the dialogue made things much more interesting. So I'd say that the dialogue, or even just the voices, do play a major role in the games overall entertainment. To go back to the pop up windows with text scrolling is a no-no for me :p

And come on, I'm sure we all love FFXIII-2 when people get all excited about the chocobos.

But as for the future implementations of dialogue, they could do something similar to Kingdom Hearts 2 with the dialogue during the fight ("Sora, are you certain you can trust Riku?"). DragonballZ Tenkaichi 3 did this well in the spirit bomb battle against Kid Buu. In Dirge of Cerberus, they used a little of that narrative idea similar to Prince of Persia SOT during exploration, but it could be better. That kind of style really helps the player to connect to the characters without throwing in a cutscene each time a character's feelings or mood changes.

So yeah, I'd say the voice acting is an extremely important aspect of a game and should never be eliminated. That's my 2 cents.
 
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