Losing your voice – 10 characters that changed actors

Voices have changed

The most iconic characters in gaming often have just as iconic voices. Much like Mel Blanc’s legendary voice will always be associated with Looney Tunes, names like Charles Martinet (Mario) and Nolan North (Nathan Drake, among others) will always be linked to their characters.

Less fortunate faces, however, undergo a voice actor change with varying results, like what happenned to Solid Snake and David Hayter recently. Some raise the character to new heights, some drop the name down a peg, and others sound so similar it’s uncanny. Here are a few examples…

Dr. Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot)

In the “what an improvement!” category, we have the mad scientist nemesis of Crash Bandicoot, Dr. Neo Cortex. The original game made Cortex sound more mad than scientist, with a high-pitch yell that didn’t quite fit.

With Cortex Strikes Back, Clancy Brown morphed Cortex into a bonafide mad scientist, with a deep, bellowing voice that spooked us every time that big hologram head appeared in front of us. What an improvement, indeed.

Jak (Jak and Daxter)

At the end of the Jak trilogy, Jak looked and sounded the part of a big-time badass. Mike Erwin’s tough-guy voice provided a big boost to that persona, making Jak seem that much more powerful.

After the trilogy, Jak’s voice fell into the hands of Josh Keaton, who still has the tough guy sound, but with a touch of coolness. This Jak won’t just beat you up, he’ll do it in style. Our jury is out on which is preferred, but both men provide quality voice work.

Frank West (Dead Rising)

T.J. Rotolo IS Frank West. There aren’t many other faces on this list whose voice is as recognizable as this photojournalist. Would “I’ve covered wars, ya know” have the impact it does without Rotolo’s delivery? Of course not.

However, for whatever reason Rotolo did not provide the voice for Frank in Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Peter Von Gomm served as a stand-in. While the new voice fit the silliness and insanity of the game, it just wasn’t the same Frank we love. Thankfully Rotolo reprised his role in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, so all is right in the world.

Ansem (Kingdom Hearts)

Billy Zane nailed Ansem in the original Kingdom Hearts. He was brooding, he was intimidating, and most of all he was pure evil. Without Zane’s voice, the impact of Ansem’s words wouldn’t be the same…

…as we found out in Kingdom Hearts II, when Zane was replaced with Richard Epcar. Nothing against Mr. Epcar, whose quality performance shouldn’t be discounted, but he’s no Billy Zane.

Mordin Solus (Mass Effect)

When researching characters for this piece, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we read Mordin Solus had two different voice actors. Mordin sounds exactly the same in both games he’s in, how could two separate actors accomplish that?

Sure enough, it is the truth. Mordin is voiced by Michael Beattie in ME2 and William Salyers in ME3, perhaps introducing the world to two men separated at birth. Seriously, we’ve been listening to audio quips from both games, and we can’t tell the damn difference.

Dante (Devil May Cry)

To properly voice Dante, one needs to bring arrogance and confidence to the role. He’s not an ordinary hero; he’s got a penchant for talking some trash, as well as a cockiness that’s nearly unmatched.

Originally the part was given to Drew Coombs, whose voice wasn’t quite right. Next, Matthew Kaminsky gave it a shot, and once again it didn’t fit. For Devil May Cry 3, Reuben Langdon stepped up, and he mixed the perfect blend of toughness and attitude to make a perfect Dante voice. Langdon must be doing something right, because he’s still voicing Dante to this day.

Cole MacGrath (inFAMOUS)

Cole MacGrath’s original voice, Jason Cottle, brought a gravely tone to the character, giving him a tone fit for a superhero. Every cutscene and every conversation was voiced just as we’d imagine a new superhero would sound.

For the sequel, Cottle was replaced with Eric Ladin, whose higher pitch and not-so-gruff tone made Cole sound more human. We feel like this is a toss-up; both actors play Cole very well.

Sephiroth (Final Fantasy)

Sephiroth’s first video game featured no voice, so there was no precedent on how he should sound when the original Kingdom Hearts rolled around. Who should provide the voice of the One-Winged Angel? Why, Lance Bass of course!

Yes, the former ‘NSYNC member voiced one of the most powerful villians in gaming history. Luckily, this vocal mismatch lasted for one game until George Newbern took over the role, but the fact that this even happened to begin with leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Lance Bass?! Really?!

Zero (Mega Man X)

Wayne Doster is a man most of you readers are quite familiar with, but you just don’t know it. Wayne Doster, you see, is the man who asked himself one question: “WHAT AM I FIGHTING FORRRRRRRRRR??!!!”

Mr. Doster probably did not intend to live on as a running Internet joke, but alas, here we are. Now, Zero’s voice is in the capable hands (throat?) of Johnny Yong Bosch, also known as Ichigo from Bleach. It’s a night and day difference, believe us.

Albert Wesker (Resident Evil)

We are aware that the original Resident Evil games are home to some of the worst voice acting of all time. Comparing that game to any game, let alone another in the series, seems unfair and mean, but none of it is false. Man, that game’s acting was bad.

In the current generation, where voice acting is vastly improved, so too is the acting in the Resident Evil series. DC Douglas gives a new voice to series villain Albert Wesker, one that is worthy of the power that Wesker possesses. Douglas makes us fear Wesker instead of wanting to laugh at his stupid voice, and that’s a big victory.

Listen carefully

Did you notice any of these voice changes at the time? Or are there any characters that you never want to see make the switch? Let us know in the comments!

And if you’re looking for more looks behind the games, check out six true tales of gaming history and characters you never knew had the same voice actor.

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