I'm fairly certain voice synthesizers can't use up that much memory, but the major problem I suspect is that anything said with one sounds like a passive-aggressive space harmonica who only learned English yesterday from a manic depressive Vulcan. But there are no problems, my friends, only opportunities. How's this for an amazing idea: You make a sci-fi RPG where your character is followed around by a helpful support robot who carries your equipment and offers helpful advice and tutorial messages when necessary. And every time your character is called upon to introduce him or herself, the robot interrupts them. Perhaps it's been programmed with the eagerness set too high. You could even make a running gag out of it. Like everyone except the robot finds it impossible to remember your name.

The remaining issue is that some dickheads will inevitably attempt to enter a name like "Qqq%kblk." In which case you might want to make the player choose from a list of syllables with one consonant and one long or short vowel, so Yahtzee would be yaa-tu-zee and Brian would be bu-rii-un. Except that would sound really unnatural so maybe also voice act a load of the most common names in case people pick those. And the developers would also need to get all the different syllables voiced with a variety of emphases and emotions for the various situations the name might be read out in. Or alternatively just call the guy Frank.

"One thing you probably didn't know about this game (and I only knew about from getting a good laugh on a forum posting comparison pictures) is, while you praised the game for having a hero that wasn't a typical JRPG androgynous teen, here's Nier from their [the Japanese] version:


The worst part is it's the same game except the dialogue was changed so you are a teenage boy trying to save his sister, rather than an older man saving his daughter. So yes, an hilariously cliche, more horrible version of this game exists."
- Robert Riter, via email

Aw fuck, really? Suppose I should have suspected something like this, we wouldn't want anyone to think we're willing to take a risk on something different, would we? What is it with JRPGs and white hair, incidentally? Every member of your party in Nier has white hair, it's like a delivery of fetish gear got mistakenly delivered to the geriatric ward.

OK, maybe it's a little patronizing to switch out the emo pisspants above for a traditional chunky barbarian type, like that was the only aspect a Western audience might have trouble with, but at least the effort is there. And I actually kind of like the idea of releasing several versions of a game with a different protagonist in each one, so everyone can pick according to personal taste. For example, perhaps there could be a version of Just Cause 2 in which the protagonist is Puss in Boots. Or a version of Uncharted where the main character isn't a twat.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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