I finally got my hands on Nightshade today, and while it seems to lack the luster that Shinobi had, one thing sticks out as a glaring fault in my mind: Hibana’s voice.

You see, Hibana is a badass ninja chick. She slices and dices her way through hordes of ninjas, robots, and Hellspawn without breaking a sweat (or a nail, for that matter). But every time she speaks, I can’t help but think of her as your everyday, typical, stay-at-home mom type. Her voice lacks emotion in almost every situation, and it seems void of the
intensity one expects a ninja to have. It’s almost as if she’s bored with the lines given to her, or lead such a stoic lifestyle that she doesn’t know what anger, sadness, and intensity are.

“Just turn on the Japanese voice track!” you say. Why would I want to do that when I don’t know Japanese? It can’t be that hard to find American voice actors that are up to snuff, especially when you’re following up a hit game like Shinobi. It just doesn’t make sense to me. When a character is given a voice (be it in a cartoon, video game, movie, or what have you), it should reflect their personality or their mindset. I could understand if Hibana were the cool, calm, and collected type, but she just sounds bored. I know that’s the last thing I’d be if I were slashing up the denizens of Hell.

Note to Sega: while it doesn’t make or break a game, voice acting (along with all sound effects and music) is supposed to enhance the gaming experience and help absorb the player in the game-world. When they do the opposite, it can make the game a lot less fun.