Top Ten: Videogame Dialogue
Videogame dialogue is a mixed bag, it can be marred by bad translation in text or it can be made laughable by bad vocal delivery. As with most things in life it is only really the great and the truly awful that manage to be remembered with any sort of longevity. In compiling this list I was torn whether to focus on the best or the worst, but I have decided to make my top ten the mixed bag that it is. Who says you cant have best of both worlds?
So without further ado, here are my Top Ten bits of videogame dialogue.
10: PaRappa the Rapper
"Kick, punch it's all in the mind" (Chop Chop Master Onion)
An absolute guilty pleasure of mine. PaRappa the Rapper is one of the first rhythm games to be released and then followed up by the likes of Bust a Groove. I remember getting the first level on a magazine demo disc and playing it to death, and now over a decade after release the song is still in my head. Perhaps Chop Chop Master Onion's words are a commentary on the metaphysics of combat...probably not, but damn it's catchy.
9: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
"I am Error." (Error)
Talk about self esteem issues, this guy never had a chance being labelled with a name like that and neither did his siblings 'Accident' and 'Unfortunate Outcome'. There is speculation that this was a mistranslation and the name should have been Errol, if that is the case then we may never have had this wonderful bit of videogame weirdness.
This little bit of videogaming gold was not forgotten about by Nintendo either and those infamous words made a re-appearance not too long ago in Super Paper Mario.
8: Altered Beast
“Rise From Your Grave” (Zeus)
If you had a Sega Mega Drive within the first few years of the consoles life you will no doubt have heard this line countless time. To be more accurate that quote is from the arcade version, the one with decent audio. The Mega Drive version was more along a Jonathan Ross inspired “Wise fwom your gwave”. Check out the video below for the immortal words, who knew Zeus had a lisp?
7: Half Life 2
"Rise and shine, Mr. Freeman, Rise and shine" (The G Man)
For six years we waited for Half Life 2 and perhaps that's why these simple words have stuck in my mind. Some games start with a explosion or a thrilling set piece but here we had the mysterious and subtle words of the G-Man bringing us back into the Half Life world.
6: Bad Dudes:
"The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?" (Secret Service agent)
There is nothing not great about that quote, it says everything it needs to say about the game and to be honest it also just highlights how awesome ninjas are. Now you know why the President needs so much security. Check out the gangsta rap stylings in the video below dedicated to Bad Dudes. (NSFW)
“A man chooses, a slave obeys.” (Atlas)
Its very rare in a game that I am completely taken aback as at this age I think I’ve seen pretty much every trick they can throw at me. However, Bioshock presented me with a moment of subtle brilliance that has stayed with me years later. The realisation that your choices in the game have been illusory, and that your decision to act was based on a trigger key phrase ‘thank you kindly’. Brilliant writing. Brilliant acting. Just brilliant.
4: Zero Wing
“All your base, are belong to us” (CATS)
Like last weeks BFG in the best weapons list, you just knew that this would be here. The now infamous Engrish dialogue has been the fuel for an Internet meme that will never die and if you’ve never heard of it before, you must have led a sheltered life.
For the billionth time here is a video of the game that began an Internet craze... "Take off every ZIG”, even I cant help myself.
3: Super Mario Bros
“Thank You Mario! But Our Princess Is In Another Castle!” (Toad)
I have to admit that Mario has greater patience than me, three castles in and I’d have just went home to see what was on TV. The princess must have some pretty fantastic qualities to warrant Mario’s patience, or perhaps she owes him money. Either way, with one of the most successful and iconic games in history this line will live on forever.
Here is a musical lament based on the persistent problem of the Princess being in another castle.
2: Resident Evil
"Jill, here's a lockpick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you." (Barry Burton)
Ah good old Barry Burton supplies us with some fine wordsmanship in this not at all bizarre conversation. For a game that actually had me screaming early on (bloody dogs through the window) it also managed to have me in tears of laughter with the sheer idiocy of its dialogue.
Check out the verbal damage in the video, truly a case of bad dialogue being amplified by bad delivery.
"I'd just like to point out that you were given every opportunity to succeed. There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn't come either, because you don't have any other friends. Because of how unlikeable you are. It says so here in your personnel file: Unlikeable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikeable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. 'Shall not be mourned.' That's exactly what it says. Very formal, very official. It also says you were adopted. So that's funny, too." (GLaDOS)
I know its not a quote that would run off the tongue particularly easily but it encapsulates everything I loved about Portal’s scripting. In fact nearly every line of dialogue in that game could be in a list by itself. This is what happens when you have great writing and a great voice combining, absolutely inspired maniacal genius.