15/02/2011

CAPCOM'S GREATEST BEAT-EM-UP ANNOUNCERS

With this week seeing the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it seems like a good time to travel back through the ages (or at least to 1997) to take in the aural delights of the finest announcers from Capcom's fighting games
Now, I know that there are some people out there who don't like a lot of these over-the-top, hot blooded, pulse-pumping announcers. Do you know why these people don't like them? Because they are hollow, soulless husks, so concerned with seeming "cool" that they hate anything that isn't dark and gritty. Oh okay, that's probably a little unfair: while there are people for whom these announcers just aren't cool enough, some people don't like them because they think they're irritating. I can understand that, because I've suffered through some truly irritating announcers myself. DJ Atomika from Burnout Paradise springs to mind; a constant, hectoring presence designed around some nebulous corporate idea of what's cool with the kids these days, combined with a weasly voice so smug that you want to punch the person that makes these sounds so hard in the throat that their larynx is reduced to the consistency of wallpaper paste. I think the difference is that, with Capcom's announcers, the level of cheese in their delivery is such that any notion of "coolness" or corporate slickness is blasted away, leaving only pure madness behind. They're oblivious to everything apart from hyping you up, and for that I salute them.
Anyway, without further ado: Let's Go Crazy!

Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, 1997



First up is the maniacal MC from MSHvSF, as voiced by Tony Daniels. Daniels, not content with bellowing like a loon as MSHvSF's announcer, was also the voice of Gambit in the 1990's X-Men cartoon, a role he reprised in Capcom's various Marvel beat-em-ups. Yes, he's the guy who sounds like he's shouting "Credit Card!" when you're playing as Gambit in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Part of the reason I like his work here so much is that he sounds a little like Kevin Murphy of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fame, especially at 2:29-34. Mostly though, it's the gusto with which he throws himself into his performance. When this man shouts "Look! Spectacular action!" you damn well will look. When he orders you to "feel sensational thrills!", sensational thrills had better course through your goddamn body like water rushing over Niagara Falls; I just hope he's never shouted it at a woman whilst on a date.
I love the way that, due to the way this video is ordered, when he gets to the K.O. countdown he starts off reading the numbers as though recording them is the single most important thing he will ever do with his life, but he loses interest faster than a seven-year-old at the opera until by number five he's checking his watch and wondering if X-Men: The Animated Series is going to be renewed for another season.
One thing, though: Choon Lee?

Capcom vs. SNK 2, 2001



Hiroaki Asai provides the commentary for CvS2, and what strange commentary it is. Obviously, English isn't Mr. Asai's first language, and his announcements are memorable mostly for the strange rhythm they're spoken in. Pauses where there should be no pauses, odd emphasises; it all adds up to narration that stays with you. When he says "I knew that Groove was in your heart", it sounds like he genuinely means it, and I'm grateful that he cares.
My favourite bit must be at around 3:08, when his delivery sounds most like he's reading from an autocue that's not updating quickly enough, and then he starts channelling Jerry Seinfeld. Actually, no, I've changed my mind. My favourite bit is "Here comes a new challenger. YOU MUST CRUSH THEM".

Marvel vs. Capcom, 1998



A female announcer for the first game in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, and her voice is provided by Sally Cahill. Mrs. Cahill is probably better known amongst gamers as the voice of Ada Wong from the Resident Evil series, and while Resident Evil is the bigger series, her work on Marvel vs. Capcom is what she should be remembered for. I have very fond memories of going on a school trip to London when I was a kid and seeing, for the first and only time, an MvC arcade machine. I threw in my coin and heard the glorious sound of Sally Cahill shouting "LET'S GO CRAZY" and I thought yes. Yes, I will Go Crazy. Crazy enough to play as a small, blue robot boy with a gun for an arm and fight against a hairy Canadian man with metal claws. So maybe it's a personal thing, my love of MvC's announcer, but all I know is that it always brings a smile to my face.
It's narration with a slightly different feel than the others in this article. Rather than the out-and-out madness of the other, it has more of clipped, sharp tone to it. Just listen to the disdain with which she says "here comes a new challenger" at 1:07. She thinks they're scum, this "new challenger", and if you don't wipe the floor them she will be disgusted with you.

Street Fighter Alpha 3, 1999



My absolute favourite, and pretty much the soundtrack to my teenage years. Greg Irwin provides the voice, and what a voice. Any pretence of coolness is not so much thrown out the window as it is fired out the window on a rocket powered by unicorn's screams. It's so over-the-top, so uninterested in concepts like restraint and decorum that it land squarely in "best thing ever" territory.
Half the things he's saying don't even make all that much sense. Phrases like "You have fists of God!" and "Can you march the way to glory?" hover around the line of complete nonsense, and they're all the better for it. His delivery occasionally lapses into "drunken hobo" mode, particularly at 2:03 when he shouts "AAAINT there somebody who can stop this fighting machine" and fills it with more changes in volume and pitch than an entire Rush album. I would love to know what direction Capcom gave him when he was recording his lines. "No Greg, it's not mental enough yet. Try it again, with more passion. Pretend it's a girl you've been stalking for six months and you're jumping out of the bushes to finally confess your shameful love to her."
To try and choose a favourite from all this magic seems a little pointless, but "Triumph or Die!" (0:38) is always a good way to get the blood pumping, particularly while being repeatedly slapped down by M. Bison and his bullshit Super Psycho Crusher. There's also his K.O. sound (0:48), one of the best victory announcements in videogames history. Opinion is still divided as to whether the KO from SFA3 was used in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World; I've listened to them both and I'm still not sure. If it isn't the exact SFA3 sound effect, then it's someone doing a damn good impersonation.

So there you go. Hopefully that's enough evidence to convince you that all announcers in beat-em-ups should be borderline psychotics with a loose grip on reality and an even looser grip on the English language. It'll be interesting to see if Marvel vs. Capcom 3's announcers will be fresh in our memories in ten year's time.

4 comments:

  1. Nice article.

    MvC3's announcer is forgettable, unfortunately.

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  2. i-ghost: True enough. At least Dr. Doom's "Hidden missiles!" and "Foot dive!" make up for it.

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  3. My favorite is split between the monotone voice of the original Street Fighter II releases -- highlights being his weird inflection of "Perfect.", "TIGER ______" and the way the numbers in the continue screen are the same used to rate the strength of Balrog's turn-punches -- and the one from X-Men vs. Street Fighter. The way he shouts "X!" in response to the machine receiving coins and that when you're ready to play, he dutifully informs you that "This is X-Men vs. Street Fighter." I'll never forget the first time I played it, because the game introduced itself to me properly. There's a similar clip in Street Fighter Alpha 3, but only the arcade operator can know what the game is because it's only used to test the speakers when the machine is powered on.

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  4. So memorable. I got goosebumps when finally researching "Who're these announcer's bhenind my memorable childhood fighting games". Damn good to finally know!

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