It’s hard to look at a picture of Mario nowadays, and not be reminded of his energetic, high-pitched voice. ‘Wahoo!’ he shouts, while bouncing off the skull of another hapless Goomba. ‘Let’s-a go!’ he declares, using a power mushroom to take the lead on the final lap of Rainbow Road. ‘Mario’s gonna put this on the… FULL HOUSE… line,’ he suggests, during a rousing session of gambling. Charles Martinet’s unique take on this iconic character works about as perfectly as possible – could you imagine a world where he canonically sounded more like he did in Hotel Mario? It’s a hideous notion; a chaotic reality where misery and madness run rampant, and all toasters toast toast.
Unfortunately, not all classic gaming characters find a partner as appropriate as Martinet, and the moment they open their mouths for the first time, we can’t help but cringe. The only solution is a hasty re-cast, or a conveniently written bout of laryngitis. What follows is a list of some of these culprits. If you’re feeling particularly bold, feel free to read it in their voice. You’ll probably hate yourself.
From his first appearance in Sonic 2, Tails quickly endeared himself to fans with his bright-eyed optimism and apparent immortality. Many an hour were spent gleefully watching him tumble into pits or get crushed by moving pillars, only to fly back onto the screen, ready to try again. Depending on how you looked at it, he was either the ultimate underdog, or a particularly kinky masochist. Whatever the case was, we dug his style.
His personality, from what we gathered in the instruction booklets, was that Sonic was his hero, and he dreamed of being just like him someday. That was all we needed: Likes Sonic. Has two tails. Can’t die. Tails was the perfect companion to the blue blur. But alas, we then entered an era of FMV, and along with that came voice acting. In just a few short years, Tails had gone from plucky vulpine ally to a grating nerd who was trying to negotiate terms with the president in a stretch limousine. Did you hear that thud? That was the sound of a shark being run over.
From here on, Tails was all about machines and whining. Despite being perfectly capable prior to this point, indeed even surpassing Sonic in utility with his abilities to fly and swim, he now insisted on being subordinate and deferring to everyone else to take charge. And of course, he sounded like a toddler with no ambition. In Sonic Adventure 2, after seeing Sonic be jettisoned into space, Tails says to Eggman, ‘What have you done to Sonic? I’ll never forgive you for this!’
Let’s experiment for a moment. You’ve just watched your best friend get sucked out into the endless vacuum of the cosmos. Before you stands the man responsible for this injustice. Say that line out loud to yourself. Now try it again, but frame it more like he just took a bite out of your sandwich. That’s about the amount of passion you actually get from this performance.