Monday, September 13, 2010

The Voices of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

It's not unusual for video games to employ the voices from movies and television shows to help make the gaming experience more memorable. But Activision, the makers of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which just came out last week on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, and DS, has a special treat for long time fans of Spider-Man cartoons.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is an action-packed adventure encompassing four dramatically different parallel universes, each with its own Spider-Man armed with unique strengths. Each stunning universe has its own detailed art design and thrilling gameplay with challenging skill sets to master in order to unlock powerful new moves. Explore dramatic, stunning environments, wield explosive new powers, and face epic boss battles against extraordinary foes. Experience the legendary Super Hero like never before: Four unique worlds. Four distinct Spider-Men. One unparalleled experience!
Each of the Spider-Men in this video game has a different voice, played by a voice actor that has played Spider-Man in a past animated series! Let's take a look:

Shattered Dimensions Spidey: Spider-Man 2099
Actor: Dan Gilvezan
Past Spidey Cartoon: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Gilvenzan played double Spidey duty in the 80s when Marvel Animation produced two cartoons for the 1981 season: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends for ABC, and Spider-Man for syndication. His version of Parker/Spider-Man took notes from Paul Soles' Spidey from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon - changing his voice when donning the mask, having youthful energy but not in a goofy way, and being able to deliver cheesy 80s dialogue with a straight face.

Fans of 80s cartoons will also recognize Gilvenzan as the Transformer's Bumblebee.

In the game, Gilvenzan plays Spider-Man 2009, a Spidey from a possible future timeline. Half of his DNA was rewritten as spider DNA, thus giving him an even greater connection to arachnids. Spidey 2099 does not have Spider-Sense, but he has an unlimited amount of organic webbing (much like the movie webhead). The 2099 universe was a big hit in the 90s and it is always nice to see these characters pop up from time to time.

Shattered Dimensions Spidey: Spider-Man Noir
Actor: Christopher Daniel Barnes
Past Spidey Cartoon: Spider-Man: the Animated Series

The newest Spider-Man in this game is Spider-Man Noir from the Marvel Noir imprint that re-imagines the Marvel Universe in a 1930s, depression era setting with gangsters and private detectives. The storytelling and artwork draw heavily from film noir and pulp fiction of the 30s.

For any superhero-loving child of the 90s, Barnes is Spider-Man. Fox Kids' Spider-Man: the Animated Series is one of the most popular Spider-Man cartoons and defined the hero and villains for an entire generation.

Barnes' Parker was melodramatic, but worked for the series. Unlike the previous Spider-Man cartoons, seasons took on major storylines and at some points got rather dark. While the episodes of the 60s and 80s cartoons always left on a positive note, this series often dragged Peter through the mud, leaving him with six arms, or in a war on another planet, or a wife that's actually a clone. Barnes' voice work carried the character really well over the show's five seasons.

Barnes' big break came when he voiced The Little Mermaid's Prince Eric in 1989. He was only 16 at the time but was cast because he sounded older.

Shattered Dimensions Spidey: Amazing Spider-Man
Actor: Neil Patrick Harris
Past Spidey Cartoon: Spider-Man: the New Animated Series

Upon hearing the news that Neil Patrick Harris was going to be the voice of MTV's new CGI Spider-Man cartoon, many wrote it off as a big joke. After all, Harris had not yet shaken his Doogie Howser image. Could this child doctor really play a superhero? The answer is yes! Harris' dry, sarcastic voice put a perfect spin on this MTV-generation version of Peter Parker.

Of course, we all know Harris now due to his amazing work on productions like How I Met Your Mother and Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog as well as his fantastic singing cameos on Glee and Batman: the Brave and the Bold.

Since Harris is the highest-profile actor in the video game, it makes sense to cast him as the regular Spider-Man.

Shattered Dimensions Spidey: Ultimate Spider-Man (with Symbiote)
Actor: Josh Keaton
Past Spidey Cartoon: Spectacular Spider-Man

One of my personal favourite versions of Spider-Man is Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man. Taking Peter Parker back to his high school days, but in a contemporary setting with contemporary art and writing has made this my favourite comic for several years now. The Ultimate Spider-Man we see in Shattered Dimensions has the black symbiote, this is probably to differentiate this Spider-Man from the Amazing Spider-Man since their main costumes are so similar.

The prematurely cancelled Spectacular Spider-Man drew a lot from the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, so to cast Josh Keaton, the voice of the Spectacular Peter Parker is a perfect match. Keaton is a natural at delivering Spidey's snappy zingers as well as making Peter stammer his way out of little white lies. Keaton made Peter a believable teenager.


Orphen said...

This is interesting to say the least. It is cool that they are using past Spider-man voice actors. It's definitely a plus when you recognize the voices and it does truly help to get into the characters more easily.

Anonymous said...

RE:"Gilvenzan played double Spidey duty in the 80s when Marvel Animation produced two cartoons for the 1981 season: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends for ABC"... That should be NBC not ABC. ;)