8 Most Jarring Recastings of Video Game Characters

Here are some of the most jarring recastings in video games. When you're so used to a certain voice of a character, it can be a whiplash to suddenly hear a brand-new voice. While recastings of video game characters can be good or bad, they're all jarring to fans until they get used to the new voice.

8 Most Jarring Recastings of Video Game Characters Cover

There is one definitive difference between movies and video games when it comes to actors. Nowadays, when a movie character is so ingrained in the audience as the face of one actor, that character will always be played by that actor. There are exceptions when it comes to younger versions of that character, which tend to be played by younger actors. Still, when a character is so iconic to an actor, they never get recast. That is not the same with video games. Voice actors are so replaceable, and often companies will just change the voice actor on a dime. While some recastings are good and some are bad, they’re all jarring to longtime fans. Here are the 8 most jarring recastings of video game characters.

Sam Fisher: Splinter Cell Blacklist

Sam Fisher is one of the more iconic stealth game protagonists. The old and rough stealth veteran in the Splinter Cell games was voiced by Michael Ironside, who did a great job at the role for 5 main installments. However, in 2013’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Sam was played by Eric Johnson.

Sam Fisher at the Paladin talking in Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

Sam Fisher at the Paladin talking in Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

Ironside was replaced for various reasons, but Johnson simply didn’t fit the role of Sam at this point. If this game was a reboot, then maybe it could have worked, but Johnson is too young to voice a character that is supposed to be in his 50s. His voice isn’t the only thing that’s young for Sam, as his agile movement also doesn’t fit his age. Blacklist is a great stealth game, but the one black mark on it is this voice actor change, along with Sam’s unfitting movement for his age. 

Snake: Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear’s Snake is synonymous with David Hayter. When you think of Snake, you think of him and that voice. This is why it became blasphemy for many Metal Gear fans when it was announced that Kiefer Sutherland was the voice of Snake in MGSV. Hideo Kojima himself wanted a new voice actor, but this was still divisive within the community.

Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

Sutherland is not as good as Hayter, but in fairness, he doesn’t get many lines anyway. Snake has more dialogue in the prologue Ground Zeroes than he does in The Phantom Pain. Considering MGSV turned out to be the last mainline Metal Gear game, at least for now, it would have been nice to have Hayter voice Snake throughout all the Kojima titles. It just feels off that Snake got replaced in what turned out to be the final entry of the series.  

Claire Redfield: Resident Evil Revelations 2

Most Resident Evil characters change voice actors often. Chris Redfield, for example, has 8 voice actors across the game series. However, for a while, Claire Redfield was voiced by just one person, Alyson Court. Court played Claire from the original Resident Evil 2 in 1998 to Operation Raccoon City in 2012. She nailed the character with her sassy young attitude, and the character was quite likable. Resident Evil Revelations 2 had Claire Redfield return as a lead character, but unfortunately, Alyson Court didn’t return.

Claire Redfield, Moira, and others at the Wossek in Resident Evil Revelations 2.

Claire Redfield, Moira, and others at the Wossek in Resident Evil Revelations 2.

The person credited was James Baker, but that’s most likely a pseudonym, given Revelations 2 was done with non-union VAs. Still, to this day, the exact person is unknown. The change is definitely jarring but does at least make sense since Claire is much older in this game than her last canonical appearance. It still doesn’t quite fit, however. The next VA that portrayed Claire, Stephanie Panisello, did a much better job at portraying the character in the Resident Evil 2 Remake and Infinite Darkness, the Netflix show. 

Frank Woods: Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War

The Call of Duty series has many classic characters featured. Captain Price, Soap, Ghost, but the most iconic Black Ops character would be Frank Woods. Since Modern Warfare 2019 was a reboot, it made sense for all the voices to change. However, Black Ops Cold War still occurs in the same universe as the original Black Ops games, so recasting the iconic characters doesn’t make as much sense.

Frank Woods in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Frank Woods in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

The most jarring one is Frank Woods, who was previously voiced by James Burns. He nailed the rough and tough feel of the character. Now he’s voiced by Damon Allen, and he just doesn’t feel the same. The various nuance Burns put into the performance is just missing. He feels like a bootleg version or a sound-alike in a movie game when they can’t get the actor from the film to voice the character. Hopefully, if the Black Ops story continues, we can see James Burns return to the role.

Ryu Hayabusa: Ninja Gaiden 3

Both the first two Ninja Gaiden games had different voice actors for Ryu. Justin Gross voiced him in the first game, while Josh Keaton voiced him in Ninja Gaiden II. However, both actors fit Ryu’s role as a determined young ninja. In Ninja Gaiden 3, Ryu is voiced by Troy Baker, and he is not Ryu. His performance might be near the top of the most jarring recastings of a video game character in history. 

Ryu Hayabusa receiving the Jinran-Maru in Ninja Gaiden 3.

Ryu Hayabusa receiving the Jinran-Maru in Ninja Gaiden 3.

First, his performance has a problem that many actors and voice actors have, and that’s I can’t separate the character from the actor. Troy Baker has voiced so many roles in media, and when he speaks in this game, I only hear Troy, not Ryu. To be fair, if his performance is good enough, I can see the character in his voice, and Troy has done that plenty of times, but not with this performance. Second, he doesn’t sound like Ryu. He sounds like a normal everyday dude instead of a focused, determined young ninja. Not only did Troy voice Ryu in Ninja Gaiden 3, but also in Dead or Alive 5, where he’s just as ill-fitting. 

Frank West: Dead Rising 4

Frank West was the protagonist of the original Dead Rising and the alternate Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. Until Dead Rising 4, Frank West was voiced by TJ Rotolo, who did an excellent job with the character. When Dead Rising 4 first announced that Frank West would return as the lead character, many fans were excited. However, that excitement diminished when it was announced that TJ would not voice Frank in the game.

The cover art for Dead Rising 4 featuring Frank West.

The cover art for Dead Rising 4 featuring Frank West.

Ty Olsson voiced Frank in the game and did fine with the material, but the issue was that material. TJ returning wouldn’t have mattered that much, considering the jarring and awful dialogue given to Frank in this game that’s very cringeworthy. Either way, he wouldn’t appear to be the same character that the fans know. Having Frank back was something the fans wanted, but at the end of the day, I think they regret it

Lady: Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition

Normally video game remasters and special editions don’t change the voice actors in them. That isn’t the case with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition. In the original release of DMC4, Kari Wahlgren, who previously voiced Lady in DMC3, returned. She did a fine job, but Lady doesn’t have a lot of lines in the game anyway. In the Special Edition version, all of Lady’s lines were rerecorded with Kate Higgins.

Devil May Cry 4 vs Special Edition - Lady's Voice - Mission 12

(Video by: ahuynh92)

This seems odd, as Special Editions or remasters don’t typically change voice actors, but there is a reason. The Special Edition actually contains new cutscenes, and for whatever reason, Kate Higgins was chosen to do them. Since this would create an inconsistency, Kate also redid all of Lady’s lines in the core game. Kate Higgins did a great job as Lady both in the Special Edition and Devil May Cry 5, but it’s just jarring seeing a change in actors between the original and remaster. 

Most Jarring Recasting of a Video Game Character: James Sunderland: Silent Hill HD Collection

The lead protagonist of the survival horror masterpiece Silent Hill 2 is James Sunderland, voiced by Guy Cihi. Guy wasn’t even a voice actor but was picked because he fits perfectly for the role in the developer’s eyes. During the development of the Silent Hill HD Collection, the developers wanted new voice performances for both Silent Hill 2 and 3. They did want the option for players to use the original voices, as well, but that got halted when Guy Cihi wanted more money he thought he was owed. In the end, Silent Hill 3 only includes the new voices in the collection, but most of the old voices in SH2 are included as an option.

Silent Hill HD Collection Voice-Acting Comparison

(Video by: Twin Perfect)

You’ll want to pick that option, as the new cast is majorly inferior to the original. All new voices, including Troy Baker as James, miss the point of the uncanny off feeling of the original performances. David Lynch was a major inspiration for the Silent Hill series. Many of his works have an uncanny feeling by various aspects being off and unnatural. The original developers were clearly trying to employ Lynch’s uncanny style by having the dialogue and voice performances have that same unnatural and off feeling. It leads to the player asking more questions and wondering, ultimately adding to the unease of the game. The new voice performances lose all of that by sounding more natural. Hopefully, the upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake won’t suffer the same issue. 

Conclusion

The main issue a lot of time with video game recastings isn’t that the voice is inferior. It’s that you’re so used to a certain voice of a character that your brain will initially reject it completely. Even if the new performer is good, this will happen. You can get used to the voice if it’s good, but if not, you won’t even see them as the same character. That’s what makes video game recastings so difficult. You want something like Jennifer Hale as Bayonetta, who slips naturally into the role, but you could end up with something like Troy Baker as Ryu Hayabusa, who just doesn’t fit.