Podcaster Reece Reilly – AKA: Kiwi Talks – has been discussing the development of past Metroid games with the people who made them for some time now, having previously chatted to the likes of Mike Wikan and Bryan Walker. More recently, he sat down with Clark Wen, who was Audio Director on Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
As you can imagine, there's a lot of ground to cover, because the Metroid Prime trilogy has become very influential when it comes to shaping the soundscape of the entire Metroid series. Wen reveals that almost all of the soundtrack was done using synthesizers, while elements such as the Morph Ball and Echo Visor were inspired by magnets and sonar respectively. The Space Pirates, on the other hand, originally spoke in Russian, but Wen eventually settled on Yorùbá (one of the principal languages of Nigeria) and reversed the dialogue, as well as emphasising syllables.
One element which proved to be particularly tricky to nail down was the voice of Samus – well, her grunts, to be specific.
I think voice was kind of a touchy thing with Nintendo, because originally we had done some recordings for Samus' voice, more like a temporary kind of placeholder sound because we really wanted to make sure the impacts when Samus took damage was recognisable in the gameplay. So we got one of the designers to do some placeholder grunts and screams. It was never meant as a final audio pass, but a few weeks after we got them in the game, we heard feedback from [Nintendo] EAD about Samus' voice, and they were saying it was too sexual and too sensual sounding. [laughs] They're very, very particular about vocal sounds in general, so I was happy to let them take the reins and they ended up recording several actresses for Samus' vocals, and we got them back a few months later and we ended up picking out the voice we thought worked best.
Wen also discusses whether or not it is Jennifer Hale (of Mass Effect fame) who supplied Samus' grunts and sighs in the Prime games. Hale never received credit for the role, but many fans think it is her vocal talents we hear in all three Prime games, as well as Metroid Prime Hunters. Wen admits that he's not completely sure that's the case (he's 90 to 95% sure), as the only initials on the audio files were 'JH'. The death vocal, he reveals, was recorded by a different actress (with the initials 'VM'), due to the fact that he wanted it to sound more akin to the sound in Super Metroid.
It's interesting to note that although Nintendo clearly had the most say in the direction of the game's audio, Retro Studios was able to push back when it had to. Metroid composer Kenji Yamamoto pitched a soundtrack that was very guitar-based – something Wen describes as "Steve Vai meets Sun Ra". Retro Studios rejected this initial pitch.
Wen now runs his own award-winning audio studio Exile Sound and has worked on the likes of Guitar Hero and Call Of Duty in recent years. When asked about his reaction to the latest Metroid entry, Metroid Dread, Wen admits that initially, he thought the audio and sound design was "terrible" but after playing it for a while, he came to realise exactly what the team was aiming for, and now feels the end result is more agreeable.
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the Samus in Metroid Prime Hunters is not Jennifer Hale.
Reason I was fired from my last job. Primary schools clearly aren't a good fit for me.
Says the Japanese company. I mean, they’re the experts at sexual moaning noises.
I'm not aware of Samus having any dialog in the Prime games. She has one or two sentences in Dread, but in Prime? Certainly not 1 or 2.
Feel like the title will invite comment arguing when in actuality the game was always planned to have no dialogue, it's just about game noises.
Well, I don't think it would've been too bad for Samus to have a sexual voice as long as it isn't too "over the top".
That's an easy fix, just make Samus a chain smoker /s.
Weird how they didn't allow any dialogue from Samus because it would've been too sexual, but they allowed one of the most terrifying game over screens I've seen.
We all know it was Gilbert Gottfried
Too sensual ?
I have heard hundred times of female moaning SFX from DDR song called Sexy Planet.
Lisa's VA from Genshin Impact comes to mind immediately.
Maybe next time they will get Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson) to voice Samus 🤷♂️😂
For anyone wondering, Vanessa Marshall is the actress who recorded the death vocal.
@Samo_Gallego That's the assumption, but it's by no means 100% confirmed.
@napabar This piece is about the 'grunts' etc, not dialogue.
You got fired for did what ? 😮
And I was so looking forward to Metroid Primal Corruption.
Bizzare, considering Zero Suit has a history of being sexual and sensual, especially as a motive for speedrunning the game.
She's no Morigan Aensland or AliceSoft character, but it's there alright!
@Damo I mean she is credited with the part on IMDB.
That explains why they gave her such a robotic performance in Other M
Considering folks look up skirts in Smash Bros, and the “creativeness” of the internet I can see sadly why this worried them. It’s sad and disturbing that a sound of a female in pain can be construed as sexual, but alas welcome to Earth.
Never a problem for Rouge the Bat from the Sonic games. She sounds permanently horny.
@Samo_Gallego Users can edit IMDB, right? That doesn't mean it's 100% legit. Wen (the guy mentioned in this interview) has said in the past he's not sure it's her. Highly likely, yes, but not 100% confirmed, as far as I'm aware.
"Steve Vai meets Sun Ra"
Wow. Not sure what to make of it. Not a fan of the overindulgent guitar style of Vai, but cosmic jazz a la Sun Ra in Metroid? Yes please.
Its kind of strange that they chose to tone down the sexuallity of someone who is arguably one of the sexiest video game characters out there (At least until she takes all the armor off, and its just some scrawny blonde girl inside)
Jennifer Hale 100% voiced Samus, at least in Prime 1. 1) I briefly watched her autograph signings for Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and she would once in a while switch from signing a FemShep poster to a Samus poster. 2) she's tweeted about Samus plenty of times (she only tweets about characters she voiced) including "When do we start?" when the trilogy remaster was hinted 3) if you search "Jennifer Hale Samus" on YouTube you can find unused audio of her reading an intro monologue for Prime 1
@napabar Ah yes, I too skip the entire article and go straight to the comments because I want to be first.
Too sexual eh?! 🤨
BTW, if Jennifer Hale's voice was too sensual, just make her voice like Princess from Power Puff Girls / Numbuh 86 from Codename Kids Next Door.
It sounds like a bratz.
I like sexual and sensual… especially grunts
The Metroid series shouldn’t be about hot babes, boobies, and bods. It shouldn’t be up front and center so clearly I see what Nintendo was trying to prevent.
Why should Metroid be like a lot of the other 80s games with scantily clad women plastered over everything? Nintendo has some class believe it or not.
i guess bayonetta gets a free pass
@Damo Good point.
You're right. It was a Jake Hulst.
@nessisonett Are they?
[Looks at Tomb Raider 2013]
@Bogbupog Do we really want samus sounding like Dr Girlfriend.... after Venture brothers I'm not sure that'll have the affect you're looking for lol.
@KayFiOS We do not speak of Metroid Other M
And then they went completely deaf when recording Palutena’s grunts and sounds in Smash Bros
"They're very, very particular about vocal sounds"
Yet somehow we end up with the god awful voice acting (at least in English) from Other M and BotW, to name a couple. I guess bad is preferable to maybe-a-little-sensual?
@HotGoomba Moreso than when her suit EXPLODES in Super Metroid, and she dies moments later presumably from being unable to breathe whatever is in the air?
(well, Zebes was her home planet, but I guess it's kind of like most of us haven't been INSIDE the Earth's surface, so our bodies probably wouldn't be able to take the gases or whatever is in there)
@Gaviin "I DWELL AMONG THE ABOUNDING LIGHT OF HEAVEN! THOU are at the gates to the underworld!" "What the heck is that?" "THIS... is your... INDIGNATION!"
Good voice acting.
It doesn't matter, losers will sexualize anything, even the most nondescript character noises.
That’s what I thought of when I say the article title, that game is absolutely infamous for stuff like the the opening loopable QTE where people would have Lara painfully pulling a metal bar back and forth out of her abdomen, not sure how that got past the developer but they might have intended the creepy subtext given some of their comments they made during the development of that game.
With Botw it was obvious they stopped caring about this and wanted to pander to the “waifu” crowd more which is why we got Zelda shoving her ass up at Link in one scene, the success of Fire Emblem Awakening in 2012 was the tipping point.
All this really doesn't matter to us all surely? Thought it was a but funny though
lol I think we all know that Nintendo has gone full circle...well with Bayonetta and XenoBlade 2.
Clickbait: The article isn't about rejected voice-acting, but about rejected voice-samples (screams and grunts).
Still a interesting read though.
Such a shame they didn't feel that need for Other M.
Nintendo must have some double standard then because the grunts from Peach/Daisy/Rosalina from Mario Kart and Smash Bros can be pretty diverse, down to the "blasting off" echo scream from Smash Bros.
I've definitely seen at least one video where the sounds are compiled together to make this joke. A.K.A. Snake's Harem by MALR https://youtu.be/-jkuXO-e2cI&t=2m26s
That's funny, because I spent the last week playing Skyward Sword, and I kept having to turn down the volume, because I was worried my parents would hear the vocalizations and misunderstand
I was originally confused about this decision, then I remembered the voices that Age of Calamity shopkeepers made.
Ironic considering Nintendo themselves subsequently put her into a rubber suit with stilettos.
@HotGoomba With that game over I can only imagine how she might feel. The Metroid Prime 2 game over is also pretty dark for what we normally see in Nintendo games. I don't have an image right now, but basically she suffers a cardiac arrest.
@Ryu_Niiyama Eh. While some people are indeed investing their energy in the wrong approach, there is such a thing as a voice sounding too sexual in a context where it doesn't call it for. Ever watched the Dragon Ball Z Portugesse dub? That...is not how a fight should sound like.
Well, any young, fit 20-something female is going to sound sensual even if she was reading the ingredients to Rice Krispies. So just stick with the moans, grunts, and shocked sounds. Better.[/Dr._Evil]
I'm just happy that they are doing voice acting for her at all.
Samus NEEDS to be voiced. I know alot of us have problems with Other M, but I was thrilled to finally have her voiced in that game. It has to be there going forward.
I agree, it can't just be anyone. And it cannot be sexualized or sensualized. And I'd imagine that finding the right person for this will be HARD.
I haven't finished Dread yet, but the portrayal of her in that game so far (along with the small bits of voicing for her that I've come across) are PERFECT. Everything about her screams BADASS.
@Henmii do those suddenly not count as voice acting? kiais and the like are generally considered such at least, so grunts probably are too
They didn’t get the memo with Smash
@Nerdling Hale would do a good Job. She’s easily recognizable, but still.
@Samo_Gallego IMDB is user-generated content.
I agree with that.
I’m hoping that Prime 4 expands on it.
I would like Samus to talk sort of like the Master Chief. She doesn’t talk constantly, but when she does it carries real weight. Give her a voice of a woman in her early to mid 30s. Someone who is clearly a veteran and has been through the ringer multiple times.
Guess Nintendo would have rejected the final voice work for the male Chosen Undead in Dark Souls.
If Samus talking was too sexy and sensual? Why don't they just change the pitch. Jennifer Hale is a master voice actress, they could've altered her pitch to sound more grounded.
But those sensual sounds are why I pick playing a female character when I can! If I'm going to be hear a lotting of grunting, it's going to be sensual grunting.
Good to hear this actually, after the story creator turned out to be a misogynist creep when he turned Samus into a submissive bimbo in Other M, I was worried she would notreturn to her former strong female character.
Hopefully Yoshio Sakamoto has a backseat role in any Metroid games going forward. We don't need to return to that trash sexist version of Samus.
@Ryu_Niiyama To be fair to Nintendo's judgement, acted pain isn't actual pain, so pretend sounds may not actually convey the same involuntary intonations that would be subconsciously perceived by human auditory processing as authentic pain cries might. (Note to directors, strike actors with batons while recording pain grunts for authenticity.) And the original place holder sounds in question weren't recorded by a trained actor but by a random game design employee told to make painful moaning noises, so it may have been laughably bad "pain" sounds that sounded more like something from a CP2077 brothel than a bounty hunter getting impaled through power armor.
@Eel Do you realize your comment has just imbalanced online Smash play by making Palutena overused and in need of severe nerf?
@NEStalgia then it would recognized as laughable and not sexual stimulus. If your subconscious does translate any voice acting as erotic (that isn’t during/recorded for the appropriate situation) then I circle back to my original post. The disposition and perception of the listener. Pervs gotta perv. Or I suppose sex addicts have to be addicted. Now if your point is Nintendo themselves misconstrued the sounds, while unfortunate for the actress, it still proves their reasoning for being wary.
The reason why a person’s brain twists things is irrelevant to my post. I gave up trying to understand the idiosyncrasies of humanity during childhood. And before you pounce on to that to lecture me about empathy I don’t care nor do I want to have empathy with such behavior. I can still view it as repulsive but expected, however. My opinion changes nothing of the world or those people.
@Ryu_Niiyama Eh, I don't have a hard time believing a bad voice actor (or rather someone who's not actually a voice actor at all just recording placeholder audio out of their cubicle) portraying a really different sounding sets of sounds than the intended one. I've often thought how difficult and....awkward...sounding damage grunts must be to not cross over the intended sound like that, and found some VAs do better than others at a task that seems mundane but is actually very difficult. There's subtlety in intonation in various human (and animal) vocalizations, and when you're just acting, it takes uncommon talent to be able to replicate reactionary intonations correctly while pretending. (And I'm sure a lot of adult actors sound more in pain than anything...even if they're trained actors otherwise.) I've no doubt there's some classic Charles Martinet outtakes of "a very special Mario" we will never, ever, ever, ever, ever hear buried somewhere in the Nintendo vaults along those lines. He's loose canon and an actor's actor....I guarantee it. Let alone Robin Williams.............
For a good time (or at parties) try doing untrained VA for damage grunts yourself and play it back for yourself, and think of how unintentionally awkward the resulting sounds are! One doesn't have to be a pervert to hear awkward misplaced sounds and think "OMG WTF!"
Edit: Actually regarding Mario and Martinet, legend has it that at his inaugural E3 when he was just there to entertain the booth, he had some very....off-color Mario interactions with E3-goers!
@NEStalgia your experiment would not work with me. I know what I sound like in pain or otherwise and can mimic it. I use voice memos to write. So I may find my dialogue to be weirdly structured or not convey what I wish because of the line walked between being literal or writing flowing, evocative narratives but sound? No. Never had that problem. Also like any other person, females make noises to express a myriad of emotions. If someone (be it male or female) assumes that we only give non verbal sounds during copulation then again the fault is with the listener and it doesn’t speak well of how they view females in general. I’m terrified to find out if this filter applies to the sounds a young girl would make. However depending on the person the answer is likely yes.
So back to my original stance. I’m not saying people can’t have sex on the brain (it’s annoying and often used to objectify others but I acknowledge that in the post) but that isn’t the point of my original comment. You are trying to argue a point adjacent to what I said.
Edit: there is also the assumption that grunts and moans are the only non verbal sounds human females (nobody is editing male voice acting for this reason to my knowledge) make during pain or copulation when that isn’t the case.
Also I hate my phone.
Martinet has been off color at gamestop conferences too but that has nothing to do with this article or my original post. He is deliberately acting a certain way. It’s only odd if you don’t get the verbal cues (which I will admit I have trouble with sometimes). But that is just opposite spectrum; a more lewdly minded person might think that it’s sad that I didn’t pick up such clues. Still doesn’t change how my brain works or how that person feels about my reaction.
Edit 2.0: let me counter your experiment. Some People tend to call upon a deity during copulation (I don’t know why; it’s a odd social quirk some people have imo). They also tend to call that same deity during worship. Are you saying that unless one was a trained VA those two sounds would be indistinguishable to an outside listener?
Really? They axed a character's voice for being "too sexual? Please. Get real.
If they removed this, why did they leave in the much more sex-sounding "grunts" when Midna is riding Link...?
That's kind of strange considering Metroid had her taking off more of her armor the faster you beat it, but whatever.
@ChromaticDracula Am unsure if this is sarcasm
@TheRedComet soft, low and slightly raspy?
I’m hoping Prime gives us an older Samus.
I have some story ideas. Basically it would take place 10 to 15 years after the events of Corruption. Samus is basically retired from bounty hunting. She’s in her late 30s, say 38 or 39. I imagine her as a Federation training contractor; she trains Federation special forces. She hasn’t worn the armor in years; it’s locked in her “bunker.”
Suddenly the planet she is living and working on is attacked by the Space Pirates, led by a reborn and significantly more powerful Ridley, who has a personal vendetta to settle. She dons the power suit again and she and the Federation forces manage to fight off the Pirates. However, the entire city they are operating near is completely destroyed in the battle with thousands of civilians killed. the Federation declares war on the Space Pirates and tasks Samus with tracking down their location and relaying it back to HQ so that the Federation fleet can invade and destroy them.
Samus tracks Ridley to some desolate world on the edge of galactic space. She lands there and begins investigating. However she is suddenly attacked by a man wearing Chozo power armor. The suit is similar to her own, but optimized for combat only rather than being general purpose like her own suit always has been. He’s also trained in Chozo battle arts just as well as she is.
Despite her best efforts, he wins the battle by knocking down her energy shields and hitting her directly with a Super Missile. Her suit’s integrity is compromised and she’s nearly unconscious.
Before the mysterious man can finish her off with a charged plasma beam, Ridley appears and demands retribution. The two bicker while Samus lays there. However Samus has one last trick up her sleeve. She jettisons her armor and sets a self destruct sequence in its power core. She manages to escape off of a nearby cliff as Ridley and his mysterious ally escape before her suit detonates with the force of a tactical nuclear weapon (minus the radiation).
After this, the game would truly start. Samus enters a mysterious temple and finds Chozo artifacts. She ends up in a mysterious room. In the room she finds a Chozo power armor called “Assassination Armor.” It’s lightly armored, but features extensive stealth capabilities, high mobility (with built in space jump and fast multidirectional dashes) and can be easily upgraded like her old armor. Next to it is an empty mold that is shaped exactly like the armor the mysterious man used.
Then you start exploring. I haven’t thought any farther than that. Ultimately the mysterious man and Ridley are the main antagonists.
@Ryu_Niiyama i grunt when I play tennis.
When Nintendolife posts such a header above their article, everyone assumes its about "full" voice-acting. So yeah, its clickbait.
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