Cloud Strife and 9 other video game characters whose voice actors changed between games
Unlike Japan, where it’s almost unheard of for the voice actor behind a popular video game character to be recast, it’s a pretty common practice in the West. Of course, there are a few notable exceptions, including the great Charles Martinet, who has been Mario’s undisputed voice for almost three decades now. As with the character himself, this kind of longevity is incredibly rare in the modern age of video games.
While some redesigns go largely unnoticed by Western fans, the rest tend to be accepted without too much complaint, with players appearing more interested in the characters themselves than the actors making their voices heard. That’s not always the case, however, with a redesign or two having caused their fair share of controversy in recent years. Some popular video game characters have even changed their voices several times.
Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy)
Although the original version of Final Fantasy VII did not contain a voiceover, Cloud has been voiced in many other video game appearances over the years. Her first speaking role in the west came in the 2002 release of Kingdom Hearts, in which Steve Burton provided his voice. The American will then reprise the role 12 more times.
So it came as a surprise when it was revealed that Cody Christian would be giving the voice of the spiky-haired hero in Final Fantasy VII remake, especially since he had never played a major video game character before. Cloud wasn’t the only character to be recast for the game either, with Sephiroth, Tifa, and Aerith among those who got a new voice actor in the remake. Japanese distribution remained largely unchanged.
Technically, Venom Snake is not the same character as Big Boss or Solid Snake, so some might argue that the decision to replace David Hayter for Metal Gear Solid V makes sense. The existence of multiple versions of Snake had never stopped the Metal gear series to reuse Hayter before, however, with the American having lent his voice to the characters on numerous occasions.
While there was nothing fundamentally wrong with Keifer Sutherland’s performance, many fans weren’t happy with Hayter’s treatment due to his long-standing connection to the series. It has since been reported that Kojima may have already tried to replace voice actor with Kurt Russell before that, however; the man whose Snake Pliskin character is widely believed to have inspired Metal gear‘s Snake.
The Announcer (Super Smash Bros.)
Few in-game voices are as iconic as the announcer in the Super Smash Bros. games, but many people might not realize that the actor behind the announcer’s English voice has actually changed several times over the years. Indeed, the first three Super Smash Bros. the games all featured different announcers, with current voice actor Xander Mobus being the only person to have voiced the announcer in multiple games.
Jeff Manning was the first person to try his hand at the role and is responsible for many of the signature styles still present on the show today. Dean Harrington and Pat Cashman then voiced the announcer in Melee and Fight respectively, before Mobus takes over Overwrite 4 at the age of 21. He was 25 when recording for Ultimate, who was still considerably younger than his predecessors; all three were in their fifties while expressing the character.
Sonic (Sonic the hedgehog)
No less than eight different comedians have provided the English voice for Sonic the Hedgehog over the years, although only three of them have done so in games. The first of these was Ryan Drummond, who voiced the blur in both Sound adventure games as well as some other first two thousand titles. Jason Griffith then reprized the role in 2005, appearing in 17 different games over the next five years.
Sonic’s current voice actor is Roger Craig Smith, who has held the role since 2010. He stepped down in early 2021, but changed his mind and returned to the series a few months later without missing a game. With 28 appearances, he’s already appeared in many more games than any of his predecessors, although he’s still far behind the Japanese voice actor Sonic. Junichi Kanemaru has voiced Sega’s mascot in 42 incredible titles, making him one of the most experienced video game voice actors of all time.
Doctor Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot)
Although there are many actors credited with voicing the main character in the Crash Bandicoot series, most players probably won’t notice it due to its complete lack of dialogue. One character who speaks during games, however, is the infamous Doctor Neo Cortex, who, like his nemesis Crash, has also had multiple voice actors since the series began in 1996.
Brendan O’Brien, who was also the original “voice” for Crash, played the Mad Doctor in the original game, but was replaced by Clancy Brown for the sequel the following year. Lang reprized the role several times, but eventually quit in 2003 due to his dissatisfaction with the amount of video game actors’ pay at the time. Since then, Lex Lang has voiced the character and has appeared in nine games to date.
Luigi (Super Mario Bros.)
Not only has Charles Martinet portrayed Mario 88 times, but the legendary voice actor has also lent his voice to several other characters in the Mushroom Kingdom. Perhaps the most notable of these is Luigi, whom Martinet has now voiced 71 times. Unlike Mario, however, Martinet isn’t the only person to have voiced the long-suffering brother in Western versions.
Apart from the educational derivative titles released in the early 90s, Luigi first had a voice in Mario kart 64. Martinet was unsurprisingly the man chosen for the western versions of the game, while French translator Julien Bardakoff offered a higher pitched voice for the east. For some reason, Bardakoff’s Luigi recordings were then used for the Western versions of the first two. Mario party games as well as Mario Kart: Super Circuit in 2001. Martinet is however the undisputed voice of Luigi since then.
Fox McCloud (Star Fox)
Unlike Mario and Charles Martinet, Fox McCloud’s character from Nintendo’s revolutionary game Star fox the series never really had a definitive voice actor in the West. Although Mike West has voiced the character more often than any other English voice actor, he’s far from the only person who has lent his soft tones to the barrel-rolling fox over the years.
Dan Owsen’s voice was used in the original version of SNES as well as in Super Mario Creator for the Wii U. Steve Malpass has been given the role of the much maligned Star Fox Adventures and Super Smash Bros. Melee, while Jim Walker took over for Fight and Star Fox Assault. West has appeared sporadically during this time, although he has voiced Fox for the character’s last three appearances in video games.
Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil)
Leon Kennedy might just be the most popular character in the resident Evil franchise, but the Zombie Killer Cop has struggled to maintain a stable voice actor since his debut in 1998. In fact, no English voice actor has ever reprized the role in a lead line. resident Evil game, although the character appeared in three of the eight numbered entries in the series; one of which was completely redone just a few years ago.
The first person to voice the character was Paul Haddad, who did so for the release of Resident Evil 2. Paul Mercier then played the character in Resident Evil 4 and some derivative titles, before being replaced by Matthew Mercer for the sixth installment of the series. While Mercer has also appeared in a few spin-offs and films, he also hasn’t returned for the Resident Evil 2 remake in 2019, with Nick Apostolides taking over instead.
Dante (Devil May Cry)
Another Capcom character who has had a bit of trouble finding a regular voice actor is Dante du The devil can cry series. The paranormal mercenary was voiced by three different people in the Western versions of the original DMC trilogy, with several of these actors overlapping at various times over the years since.
Drew Coombs was first to take on the role in 2001, but was replaced by Matthew Kaminsky for The devil may cry 2. Both actors then reprized the roles of Dante’s guest appearances in Viewtiful Joe and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne respectively. Since 2005 and The devil can cry 3, however, Reuben Langdon has played Dante in every game he has appeared in, except Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble, which again featured Coombs’ voice.
Frank West (Dead Rising)
Despite his omission in the third installment, Frank West is unmistakably the face of the death rising series. He has had a starring role in three of the franchise’s four main entries and has also appeared as a guest character in numerous crossover titles. However, the character’s voice hasn’t always been the same, with four different people playing the character over the years.
The first and most regular actor to voice Frank was TJ Rotolo, who appeared in two Marvel vs. Capcom games as well as the first two death rising securities. Peter Von Gomm lent his voice to the character of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: The Ultimate Stars, but it was Ty Olsson who got the green light when Frank came back for Dead Rising 4. In what may well turn out to be his last appearance, the character was voiced by Scott McNeil for 2017. Puzzle fighter for iOS and Android devices.
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