Ever since the visual technology supporting video games has improved, so has the desire to present engaging characters. One of the primary methods of achieving this has been to implement professional voice acting. While many big budget games now see full cast voice acting as an absolute requirement, The Legend of Zelda franchise has only recently dipped its toes into this pool. Or has it? Depending on your definitions, one could argue that voiceover has existed in the series for quite a while, or that it really still isn’t as present as it should be. Of course, the more interesting question is whether or not it belongs in the first place. What do you think about voice acting in the Zelda series?

Breath of the Wild was the first “traditional” Zelda title to give characters fully voiced dialogue. Not all of them, mind you. The vast majority of Hyrule’s denizens still communicated via text box. Only the most significant players were granted audible speech. Zelda, The Deku Tree, the Champions, and a handful of others were the recipients. Even a few of these, like Impa, would only be voiced in full motion video cutscenes, and not when spoken to during gameplay. Unfortunately, these performances span a quality spectrum of passable to unbearable. Zelda and The Deku Tree are acceptable for their roles, but Mipha is worse than having Navi in your ear. The language setting is eternally set to Japanese for me.

Speaking of Navi, her nagging in Ocarina of Time could be seen as the first instance of voice acting in the franchise. Likewise, various islanders in The Wind Waker would often greet Link with an emphatic “Hoy!” alongside their text box. My favorite example, however, is Midna from Twilight Princess. While she still lacks understandable speech, Midna will recite some gibberish in the background while the player reads her text. This method gives the impression of speech while still allowing the interpretive joy of reading text. It also means much less money and time have to be spent on other actors, bolstering other aspects of the game. Before you say it; yes, I know that this approach was also taken with Fi, but it will be a cold day at Eldin Volcano before I compliment that robot.

What do you think? Did you enjoy the voice acting in Breath of the Wild? What would you like to see going forward? Let us know in the comments below?

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