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Behind the Voice: Karen Strassman Part 3

Welcome to part three of this epic trilogy. Last time we looked at a bunch of Atlus games and I talked probably for too long about Sengoku Basara. It was bunches of fun. Anyway, let's get right back into it. Shall we?

Fallout New Vegas - 2010

While New Vegas wasn't half as well written as Obsidian fans on the internet tried to convince everyone it was, it was still an entertaining enough distraction. Karen Strassman got to play not one but two named ghoul characters in New Vegas. Beatrix and Calamity were both about as entertaining as you could hope for a poorly rigged and robotically posed burn victim rendered on a six, seven year old engine to be.

They both sound appropriately well-weathered. They kinda sound like Marge's sisters from The Simpsons, who are themselves quite ghoulish sounding, so that part works itself out pretty well. There's really not too much else to say about this one. If you weren't looking for it, you might not notice this one, as it's not exactly in her usual repertoire, so that's fun, but other than that the characters don't really do anything super interesting. I mean, these are Fallout NPCs after all. But they're both pretty neat little characters in their own way.

Sonic series - 2010 up
Rouge the Bat

So, at some point in 2010, the Sonic series got a new voice director or casting director or something, and they threw out pretty much their entire stable of voice talent they'd been using for the past four or five years for a completely new cast. At any rate, Strassman came along with all the new actors in the wake of this mass exodus, to take on the role of Rouge.

There's not really a whole lot more to say about that. The Sonic franchise is only just slightly more relevant in this day and age than Bomberman. So it's not like these are good games you're missing or anything. I mean, there's Sonic Colors, but I don't think she was in that one, and there's Sonic Generations I guess. But I think Sega has given up on trying with Sonic in much the same way that most gamers have given up with caring about Sonic.

But if you liked her performance as Poison, then Rouge the bat is kind of like a more kid friendly version of that. But we're talking like, third tier Sonic characters here with Rouge the bat. I mean, she's no Charmy the Bee, but you're not likely to get much more than a B plot with her in it either. So you aren't likely to see much of her regardless of the game in question.

Red Faction Armageddon - 2011

I don't really know what to say about this one here. For some reason nothing in the story really ever stuck with me. I guess I could say the same for the game play too. But I don't know why the story didn't do anything for me. The cast is all tight, and has familiar voices in interesting places, the whole thing has a very Resident Evil 5 vibe to it, but my eyes just sort of glaze over when I try to think back to anything particularly interesting happening in the story, except for that one thing, but I am trying to politely avoid spoilers as much as is reasonable here.

The performances are all good, though the writing lacks any kind of creative spark to make those performances memorable or stand out in any way. The script certainly seems to have proved the SyFy channel logo on the splash screens right I'm sorry to say. Though the game isn't all that bad, it's just kind of middling is all.

But Armageddon is one of the few gigs where Strassman did mo-cap, so it's a rare case where you get to see her doing camera acting on top of voice acting in the cutscenes, which isn't something you get to see that often, and that's pretty cool I think. Strassman's voice doesn't really sound like any of her other roles here either. Maybe that has something to do with the acting in front of cameras part of the deal. But you might not recognize it from her other roles. It doesn't really have any of the hallmarks of her other characters' voices. So it's not a great game, but Strassman's performance is worth taking a look at anyway.

Mortal Kombat 9 -2011

Strassman pulled double duty in MK9, since Mileena is supposed to be some sort of clone of Kitana. They do sound pretty different though. Kitana has this sort of generic heroine quality to her voice. She's royalty, so she speaks in an elevated tone of voice, and her personality is kind of severe, but other than that, she's a pretty flat character. I mean, she's a good guy in a Mortal Kombat game. She's supposed to be pretty generically badass.

Now, Mileena, on the other hand, is quite the entertaining little gal. She's a bad guy, so she gets to be way more interesting than Kitana. She's sort of like this weird, creepy, lipless harpy thing that sort of plays off of her sexuality to ensnare men. So when she isn't doing sexy moans, she's making crazy squawking shrieking noises, which make her sound like a rabid animal or something, which is pretty cool.

But she's an interesting twist on your typical female characters. She's like this sort of sex monster type thing, that is equal parts alluring and revolting. So she takes on this weird, disembodied form of sexual energy that is certainly fairly off-putting but nonetheless interesting, at least from a male perspective anyway.

Operative Quotes:

"Mother! You're alive?!"

Wait. No. That's from the other thing. Never mind.

Street Fighter X Tekken - 2012

While SFxT was a mess of hot bullshit, they certainly didn't lack for fun and vibrant characters to play with. What they chose to do with that was to make a story mode that spends more time on loading screens than it does actually telling the story. But what I'm trying to say is Poison is a fun character historically, and she's a fun character in SFxT too. I wish we'd gotten to see more of her, but she is fun.

She and Hugo are kind of like an old Loony Tunes cartoon. Spike and Chester in particular come to mind off the top of my head. And Strassman does a really good job of working the 'big-mouthed runt' and 'over the top sex-pot' aspects of the character into something cohesive and entertaining. Which, again, makes me wish we'd gotten to see more of her, because it really seems like they were on to something with this.

But I guess we'll just have to wait for Ultimate Super Street Fighter Cross Tekken 2nd Impact Turbo Arcade Edition Version 2014, because who even knows if Namco would use those characters, assuming they even do get around to making Tekken X Street Fighter. Oh but if they did though! The chances of that are slim, so we're left with what they gave us, which isn't too awful much and that's too bad.

Operative Quotes:

"I'm not just hotter than you. I also just kicked your ass!"

Neverdead - 2012

While Cypher only has all of, let's say five minutes of screen time at best in Neverdead, The game has got a star-studded cast for an off-the-wall, goofy script. With some of the funniest performances from some of the most ubiquitous voices in the industry, they needed a rad enough dude, even for a bit part, to make this thing work. And Karen Strassman, as Aigis herself might say, is "the coolest of the cool," and was more than rad enough dude enough to take the part.

I'm really only writing about this one to have another excuse to bring up Neverdead, which is at least a dozen times cooler than everyone else says it is. It's a shame everyone was all too busy prattling on about other things to pay even passing support to this game. I suppose Konami is at least partially to blame for sending this game out to die with almost zero marketing.

Persona 4 arena -2012

Poor Aigis didn't exactly get the best return performance in Arena. Sure, she at least kept her amazing original actress, unlike certain other characters in the game which we won't name here. But all of the characters from Persona 3 had some pretty significant changes brought to their characters in Persona 4 Arena. Aigis, in particular, has lost most of the robotic intonation to her voice, which was one of the main points of focus when I wrote about her earlier.

Losing that makes sense for the most part given the context; the idea was that she had gradually become more familiar with imitating human speech, something which is evident even in Persona 3. But it really does end up being sort of an elephant in the room when she speaks, at least starting out anyway.

Going back to that hanging thread from before about Aigis actually just being an asshole though, Persona 4 Arena really changes the way Aigis works in a humor sense too. She obviously has enough awareness of the world that she can't bust someone's ass without getting called on it, but she still does it anyway. She is just talking mess left and right, so apparently Aigis has just always been a total smart ass, and before she was just doing it on accident or something, which I personally think is just great.

That said, she's still a ton of fun to listen to despite any complaints I had about her robot voice, with the one exception of hearing her in actual game play.

operative quotes:

"My armor!"

My armor!

My armor!

(But seriously though, that part's really not her fault.)

Zero Escape - 2012

Phi is an interesting character. I guess everyone in that game is a little interesting. No one really sounds the way you're accustomed to hearing them sound. That goes for Laura Bailey et al. I don't know if it was the director or what, but they really managed to get some very different sounding performances out of everyone involved, which is kind of rare to see really.

Strassman's character, Phi, seems reticent in her speech. She has this shrugging reservation to everything she says, not so much like she's hiding something, but more like she has some sort of chip on her shoulder, more as a general character affectation than anything specific, though I don't know where the story of the game goes personally.

Her speech seems a lot more animated than you usually see in games too. That goes for the other characters too It's hard to put concisely, but it's like the characters jump from one emotion to the next with more frequency than you see in other games. But it's not that the characters feel inconsistent or anything bad like that. It actually makes the performances sound more realistic even, having the characters emote as much for off-hand comments as they do for more serious scenes.

It definitely doesn't sound like any other game I've ever played, and that helps make the whole game seem all the more surreal. And it's pretty surreal already, what with talking bunny monsters and the just wacky costume designs. It's definitely a different game, but the acting is some of the best I've heard in a while for sure.

Operative Quotes:

"I'm not Batman..."

Fire Emblem Awakening - 2013

I don't really know a whole lot about this game because I don't have a 3DS. But I hear it's the new hotness right now, and it definitely looks like a lot of fun. Strassman plays the money obsessed merchant Anna and also Olivia who does something that isn't being a merchant I think. So that's pretty cool I guess.

Now, granted, the voice acting is pretty sparse in Fire Emblem Awakening. The voice acting only ever really comes up in the cutscenes and the occasional story vignette. And then, of course, you can marry your characters too.

Ugh! My waifus!!1

Operative Quotes:

"This sure beats gold! ...Wait, no it doesn't."

“Keep this up and someday I may love you more than money! Haha... no, seriously.”

"Violence is on sale today!"

Anyway, I hope I didn't bore you too much with this not so little abridged guide to an actor's imdb page. I hope it was fun and maybe a little informative. And I hope there was at least one or two games on here you haven't played that maybe I've interested you in checking out, or maybe even reminded you of some old favorites worth booting up again.

-Kris Osborn
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About stubblemanone of us since 8:53 PM on 05.04.2012

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