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May 7, 2012 / jwaxo

Sorry! (Voice Acting)

Chutes and Ladders with a vengeance.

This blog is slowly winding down in terms of “important lessons learned”-ness. I mean, really, I love video games. They have taught me many important and many unimportant things over the years, affecting my life greatly. But there’s only so much that I can rave about them before just getting into standard reviews with a slight story attached.

But there are a few important things left that need to be covered beforehand.

This important one came from an inconsequential game. One that I received via, in retrospect, suspicious means. So first that story, which I shall recount through my tired haze. I already know this won’t get posted until Monday, because I just got back from Spokane for the annual run there.

The story opens with me, bewildered, at a kind of Easter-themed day camp. Being Catholic, Easter is supposed to be the most important celebration of the year, and we tried to do that every year. Big family get-togethers, attending all 27 church services related to Easter, etc. But this was unusual even for us. I spent all weekend at some big todo at someone else’s church, doing Easter-y things.

I remember specifically that it was not at my church because I felt out-of-place the entire weekend. I mean, heck, I was 8, and I already knew when I didn’t belong somewhere. So, at the end of the weekend, when there was a big presentation of some Easter bunny giving every kid an early Easter present. We were never very big on Easter presents, apart from the odd candy, so I was hopeful I would get something, but realistic in knowing that, as an outsider, there was a slim chance.

Belief in the magic of the Easter Bunny was long dead, by the way.

As you might guess, though, my name was called out, and I went up to receive my Easter present. I was astonished. How did they know? I didn’t belong there.

Mysteriously, my parents weren’t as mystified as me. So you can connect the dots yourself.

As you might guess, the object in the package was the topic of today’s lesson: Sorry!, the board game, for Windows. Everyone’s favorite board game where you can commit horrible, horrible atrocities to your friends and neighbors in a sterile, blame-free environment.

The rules were all identical to the standard board game: four pawns, which you move around the board to send “home”. You can move any one pawn you want on your turn, provided it can move the number of spaces on the card drawn, and, of course, if you land or slide into another pawn, you send that back to start.

I’ve recently played the real Sorry! by the way. It is quite treachorous, strategy-filled, and way, way more complex than we might remember. This is no Candyland, ladies and gentlemen.

Draw a color. Move to it. Exciting.

But the best part of Sorry! was not the fact that you could play the classic boardgame from the comfort of your computer room. After all, if you think about it, it’s kind of less-convenient; everyone has to sit around a computer, the pieces are less fun to move, and it’s not like Sorry! was difficult to set up or keep track of in the first place.

No. The single reason to play the game was the voice acting.

Each color had its own theme and voice associated with it. Red was rambunctious and quick to anger, green was laid-back and had a surfer accent, blue was regal and sounded like she wanted you to come over for tea when you had cleaned up a bit, and, my mom’s favorite, yellow was squeaky and fun-loving.

Each with their own styles, their own little matching animations. And, best of all, interactions.

Every single thing that the pawns could do, every move, every number of spaces, every possible knockback (always accompanied by a loving “Sorry!”) had what seemed like a million different ways of saying it, all of the inflections and timing, to my ear, perfect.

It’s not the best example of voice-acting. It’s not the best example of a boardgame on a computer; not a good story, emotionally or intriguingly; heck, it wasn’t even the first time I had a game that had voices in it. But there was something about the effort put into it, a game that everyone already owned and knew how to play, that struck a chord with me. It was then that I realized there were people doing this, people recording these things for a living, and four of them contributed to making this lame cash-in memorable to me.

Plus I’m a sucker for implied relationships. They’re fun to puzzle out!

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