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Which of Sonic's English VAs (in video games) is your favorite?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Josh, Sep 10, 2022.

Which voice actor do you prefer?

Poll closed Sep 24, 2022.
  1. Ryan Drummond

    44.7%
  2. Jason Griffith

    19.1%
  3. Roger Craig Smith

    31.9%
  4. None of the above - I haven't liked any of Sonic's English portrayals!

    4.3%
  1. Josh

    Josh

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    I found a topic from almost a decade ago where we ran this poll, and I thought it might be interesting to do it again.

    I don't want it to risk influencing your vote, so I'll hide the 2012 results behind a spoiler tag:

    [​IMG]

    Funny how back then, "None" garnered more than twice as many votes as Jason Griffith. Hardly anybody liked him back then! But if I were a betting man, I'd wager he'll do better this time.
     
  2. Starduster

    Starduster

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    RCS will always be the GOAT for me. Drummond definitely sounds closest to Kanemaru in the ways that are comparable (screams and general emotive grunts, etc.), but that doesn't necessarily make him a good *Sonic* and given that I don't understand Japanese, I can't conclusively say whether I like Kanemaru as Sonic. Griffith definitely got a lot better in the role as he went on and turned in some great performances towards the end of his run, particularly in Unleashed, but he just can't *smarm* the way Roger can. Hearing him sass Eggman in Unleashed's intro is nice and his plea for Chip to run when faced with Dark Gaia shows great range, but he just can't embody the smug little shitstain that Roger does so well, the demeanour that is just peak Sonic to me.
     
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  3. Josh

    Josh

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    Couldn't have said it better myself, and that's why (as I did in 2012) I voted for RCS as well. He's my favorite Sonic the games have ever had by a wide margin, and he always has been! I'm so, SO glad he's sticking around. I've said it a million times, but it always bears repeating: I may have my preferences, but I'd have preferred consistency more. Swapping VAs three times in 11 years wasn't good, and the fact that we've had RCS for just as long now is fantastic. I always liked him, but it's cool now to go back to Colors, you can hear how much his portrayal has matured.

    However, and I didn't have this perspective in 2012... I definitely don't think it'd be fair to say Drummond and Griffith were less talented. It's mostly just that it's not a fair comparison. Video games in the 90s and 2000s still often suffered from poorly-translated scripts and lacked good voice direction. Voice acting in games was still a new thing, and it wasn't always seen as a priority. This got better through the latter part of Griffith's run, but RCS came on just as Sega outsourced their voice recording to a professional studio, Studiopolis. RCS and the rest of the cast benefit immensely from that in comparison to their predecessors.

    I like this "praise your least-favorite" idea you had, though, and I'll do it too! My favorite scene with Jason Griffith has always been the part of Secret Rings' ending where Sonic is making Erazor Djinn grant him three wishes. Teen Josh almost literally couldn’t shut up about how “cringe” Jason Griffith’s Sonic was. And yet, he’d go through that whole boss fight JUST to watch this scene. The attitude, the bravado, the having so much pride in just being a hedgehog... yeah, not since SA2 had anything felt so much like Sonic to me, and Griffith's performance made that happen. <3
     
  4. Blue Blood

    Blue Blood

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    GRIFFith was NEVER a good SONic voice if you ask ME!

    Dude just has his inflections all over the shop. And even when that kind of calmed down towards the end of his run, his voice always sounded distinctly uncool and dorky. Every time he tried to do some exclamation, such as a "yahoo" or a "wow" it made me cringe. I was so happy when he was given the boot.

    Now as for my favourite, I struggle to choose between Smith and Drummond...

    Drummond is a classic. He made Sonic sound like such a nice and genuine guy, but also incredibly cool when he wanted to show off our was otherwise in action. He was a fantastic Sonic. Hearing him in the fan-made "Sonic & Tails R" got me all nostalgic and proved to me that he hasn't lost a thing with age.

    And Smith is just something else entirely. I always say this: I would never have picked him for the role of Sonic had I heard his voice because it's so unlike any other voice that Sonic has had in the past, but it only took that one preview scene from Colours for me to fall in love with his portrayal. He makes Sonic sound effortlessly cool. The way that he delivers Sonic's cockier lines is always a joy. Some people say that his voice sounds forced, but me I've just always felt the opposite. The guy just pulls off a range of emotions exceptionally well. I'm especially excited to hear him throughout Frontiers, in a serious story with a script not written by Pontac and Graff. I like it when tones down and delivers serious or calmer dialogue.

    Think I'm going to vote for Smith, but give me either him or Drummond and I'm happy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  5. SuperSnoopy

    SuperSnoopy

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    I have no horse in this race, since I play my Sonic games in Japanese.
    But comparing all 3 Roger Craig Smith takes it for me. It doesn't have anything to do with tone, voice direction or plot (hell, I damn near hate the plot of every single game RCS voiced Sonic in), he's just...the better voice actor imo.
    He doesn't sound like he's reading his script like the other 2 did, he sounds like an actual dude.
     
  6. Starduster

    Starduster

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    Ironically, Rise of the Wisps is a really good showpiece for RCS. It’s subtle and not given much focus, but he really nails Sonic’s indignant contempt when Metal starts forcefully draining the wisps for a power up. We’ve not really seen his Sonic get *pissed* yet, but that sure comes close.
     
  7. Zephyr

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    I just switch to the Japanese audio these days. I have some powerful nostalgia for Drummond. Never liked Griffith. Roger's fine, almost sounds like a better Griffith, but still doesn't do anything for me. Drummond gets my vote.
     
  8. saxman

    saxman

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    I'll talk about these in the order I like their voices...

    I've been replaying the Adventure games recently for the first time in ~20 years. Ryan has always been my preferred Sonic. However, it's stunning what the replay has done for my perception. He was *much* better in SA1. Likewise, I forgot how some of the acting generally was subpar. I don't know if it's the VA's fault necessarily; may just be bad direction. His SA1 voice is just right for Sonic.

    Roger is second for me. I've never heard bad acting with anything he's done. His Sonic sounds more mature. Nothing to really complain about. He does a fine job.

    Not on the list, but Jaleel White deserves a mention. While his is most dissimilar from the others, I think he also did a great job. He sounds less "cool" in my opinion, but his voice otherwise goes well with that smart aleck portrayal.

    Jason's was never one I cared for. He sounds too... boring? Not sure of the word I really want. When I hear the others, I get the "someone who likes adventure" vibe. I don't get that from Jason.

    Now, can we acknowledge the "original" voice? Sonic says "yeah", "alright", and "I'm outta here" in Sonic CD. Awful, but fun to mention!
     
  9. Flare

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    Jason I think definitely came into his own towards the end. Unleashed had that great smarmy attitude that Ryan gave but felt much more natural. It was a great last run for Jason.

    I love Ryan and but his voice often felt disconnected between lines - which I am sure was down to direction and editing of his lines together. But much respect to him as he really did lay ground work for what English Sonic sounded like for many many a year even into his Rodger era.
     
  10. Overlord

    Overlord

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    Roger Craig Smith was an initial shock to the system but after that moment - he's easily the best voice Sonic's had in games. Drummond is a distant second, and in dead last place is Jason "EMPhaSISing EVERY other WORD" Griffith.
     
  11. charcoal

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    Jason Griffith.
    [​IMG]

    EDIT: To actually contribute something, I prefer Jason Griffith probably mostly out of bias because that's the first Sonic voice I ever heard, but Roger Craig Smith is still pretty great and I'm mostly satisfied with his performances up to this point. I liked the snippet we heard of him for Frontiers a lot and I'm confident he'll be great in Frontiers.

    Honorable mention to Jaleel White, he's very different from any other Sonic voice but he's great in the role and honestly just really entertaining to watch in a show like AOSTH. It's also just admirable that he took the approach to try and make Sonic not sound inherently black or white so any kid could identify with Sonic, which isn't something any other VA did.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  12. Azookara

    Azookara

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    It's gonna be Drummond, for me.

    He's the only guy from the trio of Sonics that manages to reach a natural timbre and still sound like "Sonic". His acting is inconsistent per game (likely the direction to blame), and his recent acting for Sonic & Tails R was a bit spotty, but FWIW I just think his voice itself was good. It captured the breezy, bright cockiness of Junichi in an English voice where I think the others have failed. SA2 is maybe his shining moment; he gets a lot of moments to be soft as he does to bolster out.

    I've just always found RCS's Sonic awkward. Trying for a higher pitched voice he just sounds like he's straining himself, and speaking in a more natural range (like in recent clips we've heard of Frontiers) it's too deep. And in either pitch, he just sounds way too gruff and jock-ish. It just doesn't fit Sonic. And Jason is.... well, Jason's Sonic got better at the end, but idk if better equals good. lol

    Also I'm gonna give a shoutout to Martin Burke for being a very amusing Sonic voice. IDK whether to say it's good, but I love how bombastic it is lol. His has always been a dark horse favorite.
     
  13. Ch1pper

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    Jason's worst line delivery: "WHaT's ThiS? Showing reMORse, Eggman??? If you played NiCe, I wouldn't have to break all yOUr toys."
    Jason's best line delivery: "Woooooooo!" during a boost. Genuinely made me smirk when I first heard it, which lost its charm quickly when repeated ad nauseam.

    Otherwise, I'm in pretty much the same camp as everyone above for the same reasons.
    Consistency > Roger > Ryan > Jason
     
  14. Starduster

    Starduster

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    Despite growing up on SatAM DVDs, Martin Burke is absolutely my favourite Classic Sonic voice. I think he and Jaleel White both share this nasally quality and in a way neither sounds like a natural voice but...idk, there's just some indelible quality about Burke's voice that put's about Jaleel's for me.
     
  15. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    I hate RCS as Sonic. Hate, hate, hate it. I think what bothers me the most is that people like Roger's Sonic for one of three reasons:

    1.) He's the most competent actor, with the most experience.
    2.) He's the most consistent, having been the voice for 12 years now.
    3.) He makes Sonic sound like an annoying douche.

    That last one gets me, because I keep seeing takes where people think Sonic is SUPPOSED to be an annoying douche. My response to that is: "supposed to be annoying" is still annoying, and I will never, ever, agree with it. The point is: the most praise I see for Roger doesn't necessarily come from his individual performance, but rather the context of where he is in relation to previous actors.

    Here's the thing: acting can improve with time. Directing can improve with time. But if your voice doesn't naturally have the kind of quality that truly embodies what the character is supposed to be, aka how Japan and Sega of Japan see the character, then that's not going to improve, and the only way to get around it is to do something fake. And that's how I feel about Roger. The voice direction during Ryan's heyday was infamously awful, not just for Sonic but for most Japanese video games and anime in the late 90s and early 00s. Sega was particularly bad about it, I mean just look at Shenmue. No budget, and sometimes not even a studio. So I find it frankly ridiculous to judge Ryan's performance based on how he sounded in SA1 and SA2. While Heroes did have the same director, I feel Ryan's performance improved dramatically with that title. He comes as close as possible to having the same energy, the same kind of delivery, and the same natural qualities as Junichi, who IMO is the perfect Sonic voice across all languages. And that is the ideal scenario, the best possible outcome, for an English dub to have.

    What separates Ryan from the other actors is he has range. He's not forcing a voice like Jason and especially Roger are, so he has more freedom to put more feeling into dramatic or dark scenes. Even when it's not dramatic or dark, there's far more nuance in his performance. I see it in the endings to SA2 and Heroes, and then I imagine how Roger would deliver the same lines, and I cringe. I do not recognize any emotional range from Roger. Look at literally any scene from Lost World or Forces, where the stakes are high or something really serious just happened, and he sounds completely unfazed. The example I like to use is the scene from Lost World where Eggman "dies".

    Roger's delivery of "Eggman!" is like "Oh, that happened". Junichi in the Japanese version, meanwhile, gives it the kind of panic and shock it deserves. Despite watching his longtime biggest rival fall to his doom, Roger's line has the same delivery as if he just realized he left a pizza in the oven. And that level of energy persists in every single scene. He never, ever raises or lowers his voice beyond that level, making it seem like Sonic doesn't give two shits about anything in the world around him. That's the difference: subtlety. Ryan has it in spades, whereas I haven't found a single instance of Roger's acting where it didn't sound like he was phoning it in. It might sound fine if you've never heard Junichi, but once you have, the quality difference is staggering. When Colors came out, there was a general consensus that it was rough around the edges, but it might improve with time. And it never did. Ryan and Jason both saw improvements in their respective final games, but I don't think Roger ever has improved since Colors, in fact from what little I've heard in Frontiers, he might have gotten worse.

    Sonic's directing has never been good, admittedly. Lani Minella was competent if inexperienced, but she was often beholden to what Sega wanted, which oftentimes was downright idiotic:
    4kids infamously didn't know a damn thing about Sonic when they started and was just flying by the seat of their pants doing impressions of the old actors, so Jason's entire tenure was an awkward transitional period that never really went away. 4kids was used to writing corny comedy for children and doing it on the cheap, so it worked fine enough for Sonic X, but when it came time to do something more serious like Shadow and 06, they were out of their element, particularly without the context of ADR, and nothing but the script to work with. This is why, somehow, Jason sounds better in X than he does in most of the games.

    Sonic's current voice director is Jack Fletcher, and if Roger's account is anything to go by, he molded the cast's voices to fit his vision, and unfortunately his vision is biased by seemingly, again, not knowing anything about Sonic or its characters, or just not caring. For a while, it seemed like every character's performance was reduced to a single stereotype. Sonic sounds like Nathan Drake. Tails sounds like Jimmy Neutron. Shadow sounds like Vegeta. Amy sounds like Minnie Mouse, and so on. These only started to improve based on massive fan backlash, but a lot of the problems are still present.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  16. Ch1pper

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    Pretty sure DiC also had a weak grasp on Sonic back in the day, yet voice direction for the '93 cartoons was spot on. I'm fine with Fletcher's direction, and he keeps improving. Not sure how someone can be biased for not knowing the material, but w/e. :shrug:
     
  17. Starduster

    Starduster

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    I'm baffled by this complaint that Roger's "forcing" a voice. Yes, that's what voice acting is. That's what Drummond and Griffith did too, their takes on Sonic sound nothing like their normal voices. I can hear no more (or less, for that matter) strain in Roger's Sonic than in Drummond's or Griffith's. For the record, I don't think the ability of any of the three to act in the role is lacking in that regard and they all sound completely comfortable.

    And uh, that scene from Lost World is one hell of a cherry pick given the other cutscenes in the game, where he's dejected about not being able to save Tails, desperate about his fate of being roboticised and Knuckles and Amy dying, indignant at Orbot for asking if he can replace Tails and furious at the Zeti for all the shit they put him through. Sure, it doesn't all land, and while some of that's writing, some of it is the voice. Whether that's the director or the actor remains to be seen, but I don't think saying Roger's Sonic sounds too passive or unfazed is a valid criticism in the slightest. As I referenced earlier, Sonic's open but quiet contempt towards Metal in Rise of the Wisps shows better than anything in Lost World that, not only can he do emotion, he can do it subtly when allowed to and when it's called for. Issue is, most of the material he's had up to now doesn't let him do that (something which Frontiers looks set to change big time).

    Look, I don't resent anyone preferring any of the other actors over Roger, but it frustrates me to see people so often tear Roger down, especially on grounds which are demonstrably inaccurate. I don't even have an issue with discussing the shortcomings of any given actor, but it seems like Jason and Roger too often invoke a kind of vitriol from some people that just doesn't sit right with me.

    And to indulge myself in what borders on pedantry, I cannot agree with the idea that Junichi is the perfect Sonic voice across all languages when his Sonic never speaks anything other than Japanese with some gratuitous English phrases. Outside reasonable exceptions (such as the kind of babble you hear in Klonoa or Animal Crossing), a definitive voice can't really be one that that majority of the audience won't understand.
     
  18. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    Not a fair comparison, since DiC DID have a firm grasp on the old American canon of Sonic. The voice direction is pretty spot on when you consider all the American marketing, the commercials, the manuals, the comics...it's not quite the same as what's happening now. Usually, when you're assigned to direct a pre-existing IP, it's expected that you research what you're doing, and ride a balancing act between tradition, fan expectations, and new ideas. The voice direction for Modern Sonic games seems to entirely throw out anything that came before, and chooses to do its own thing, Japanese be damned. And that would be fine, except that its own thing sucks.
    The point is the more effort it takes for you to pull off a voice, the harder it it is for you to maintain it across a variety of different scenarios. Roger's Sonic is so high-pitched compared to his natural voice, that it takes more effort for him to do certain lines, and the more effort it takes, the faker the delivery sounds. Some of the examples below demonstrate this, because of how often his voice cracks when trying to inject some energy into his performance. Contrary to what you may think, being able to recognize acting is actually a bad thing. Said famous writer and playwright Orson Scott Card:
    Ryan's Sonic doesn't sound like his normal voice, but it doesn't sound like he's trying as hard, and so everything comes out so smoothly, you start to forget that there's anyone behind the character. It's not like that for every line he's done, but it's a huge step up from Roger.
    Alright, let's go through every single example you listed, since I cherrypick apparently.
    1.) Not saving Tails.
    Roger's attempt at anger when saying "Those rotten, sneaky...!" is cringeworthy. It's so fake, it hurts. He does sound suitably sad after the fact, but Junichi works in frustration and anger at the situation in addition to the despair he feels. Junichi starts with anger and despair starts to creep in as the scene ends, but after that initial line from Roger, all frustration leaves him leaving only despair, which in the end makes him sound wimpy. Which is why so many people meme on that scene.
    2.) Orbot requesting to be his sidekick
    Alright, I'll give you this one. They're both on-par. But I don't think this scene is the best example of what Roger is capable of.
    3.) Amy's "death"
    Oh god, that voice crack when he says "KnUcKlEs!" Other than that, I guess they're on-par.
    4.) Rage at the Zeti
    This demonstrates exactly what I was talking about. Roger's Sonic is confronted with his best friend, his little brother, having been roboticized, and yet his reaction is just "Oh man" like this is just an annoying setback. "Man, it'll take weeks to fix this!" or something. Where's the anger? Where's the gritty, absolute rage that Junichi has on display here?
    5.) Rise of the Wisps, Metal scene.
    English
    Bored, ever so slightly annoyed. Barely putting any physical effort into holding Metal back. Doesn't seem to care about Metal in any way.
    Japanese
    ACTION! Sonic clearly is struggling against this enemy designed to mimic him in both speed and strength. Despite never dropping his cocky attitude, he clearly shows disdain for Metal that never goes away no matter how many times they fight.

    Look, I'm not saying that Roger needs to perfectly mimic what Junichi is doing, but there is clearly a nuance here that's missing from Roger's performances, and it's something that I feel Ryan could tackle much better or perhaps just a different direction.
    That's not what I meant. You know that's not what I meant. I don't mean literally he shouldn't ever be dubbed. I'm saying it's the best voice he's ever had. I'm saying that if Sonic were to be dubbed, the Japanese voice is so great that I would expect a dub to follow in its footsteps, unless there's some kind of cultural difference barrier.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  19. Starduster

    Starduster

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    I'm talking about the moment at 07:43. When Metal first showed up, Sonic was basically toying with him. Sonic wasn't taking him too seriously because he was just doing his standard rival shtick. When Metal forcefully absorbs a wisp's energy right in front of Sonic, he immediately sours. His mood instantly changes to being very sour and disgusted. After Sonic responds to Tails in his reassuring tone, he goes right back to contempt as he addresses Metal once again.

    Also, I'm going to be honest, I couldn't really tell what you meant with your comment about Junichi being perfect across all languages because, as I said, he doesn't the voice for any dub other than the Japanese one and I don't understand Japanese. I literally cannot perceive whatever it is you like about Junichi.

    And with regards to Lost World, I don't even think it was a great showing for Roger, but you've already said yourself that half of what I've mentioned is equivalent in your eyes (ears?) between the English and Japanese dubs. The other two may be chalked up to direction (and I suspect the voice crack probably was a result of that, given the situation being presented). I certainly think the moment I've pointed to in Rise of Wisps goes for a similar emotion to those two moments in Lost World that you don't feel are up to par and executes it much better.

    Now, I don't know for sure because I'm unfamiliar with the quote, but I feel like this is referring to stage acting, where physicality plays much more into the audience's perception. Not that voice acting should be considered any less prestigious or demanding a profession, but I think's objective that there does exist that difference in how the audience is able to detect in the actor between the two media. As I said in my previous post, none of the Sonic actors sound like themselves when they're in character as Sonic, so even if I did agree with this assessment of acting, it would still fail to diminish any of the actors in comparison to one another. That's neither here nor there though. Regardless of the amount of effort the actors are putting in, this doesn't show in any way that it shouldn't. None of these actors ever, ever feel like they're struggling to maintain the voice. Griffith and Roger have of course covered TV material with their voices, X and Boom respectively, with the latter making use of much more flowing, natural dialogue due to its sitcom genre.

    I realise I'm unlikely to change your preference or anything, nor do I want to, but I don't think you're giving Roger a fair shake and I really can't comprehend this idea that his take on Sonic is compromised in some way.
     
  20. Azookara

    Azookara

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    Junichi's just got that right 'sound' I associate with Sonic. A naturally higher-range voice, a bit on the nasally side, has very breezy or singsongy delivery, does a good job of going from soft to loud to anywhere in-between while staying in the same range. It's pretty effortless how he does it; I can tell that much even without knowing much of any Japanese.

    I think I personally feel like that's how Sonic is "supposed" to sound because most VAs for Sonic have various elements in common; usually in that they're higher-range and nasally. Even with Jaleel and Burke that was the direction they went, before Junichi even became a part of the franchise. Drummond is just the one out of all of them that was able to siphon most of his traits into his role, which I appreciate. He wasn't perfect, definitely more forced than Junichi, but pobody's nerfect.

    So I kinda get where DefinitiveDubs is coming from. RCS is the only Sonic that actively, well, isn't like that kind of voice for Sonic. And I think when you're used to every Sonic VA prior (even Griffith!) sticking to at least a few of those same ground rules, his take just feels foreign. It's a different Sonic altogether. If you grew up with it I bet that's just how you hear Sonic, but.. yeah, dunno. Never hooked me.