In recent months, YouTube channel Kiwi Talks has been interviewing former members of the Metroid Prime development staff at Retro Studios. We previously covered his interview with Lead Designer Mike Wikan, which included a look at how Nintendo oversaw plot changes. Kiwi Talks released another interview over the weekend, this time with Clark Wen, who served as Audio Director on Metroid Prime 1 and 2. There’s lots of good behind-the-scenes info, especially if you’re passionate about audio design. Most interestingly, Wen discusses the mystery of Samus’s voice actress and Nintendo’s concern over placeholder grunts being too sexual. Check out the interview below!
Metroid Prime sound design interview
Placeholder grunts too sexual for Samus
Starting at the 31:02 mark, Wen explains that Nintendo maintained a high degree of control over the voice acting. Retro initially provided some placeholder grunts for Samus, and Nintendo deemed them too sexual.
We got one of the designers to do some placeholder grunts and screams just to see how that would feel. It was never meant as a final audio pass, but a few weeks after we got them in the game we heard feedback from EAD about Samus’s voice. They were saying it was too sexual and too sensual-sounding. They’re very very particular about vocal sounds in general. So I was happy to sort of let them take the reins on that, and they ended up recording several actresses for Samus’s vocals, and we got them back a few months later and ended up picking out the voice we thought worked best.
Nintendo let Retro pick from a few different actresses, but Wen isn’t quite sure who they chose. It has long been rumored that Jennifer Hale voices Samus in the Prime games and Wen believes that’s “95%” likely to be the case. The audio files were labeled “JH,” and it sure does sound like her, but he never received confirmation. Additionally, Wen clarified that a different voice actress was used for the death vocal because they wanted it to sound more similar to the death vocal from Super Metroid. In a case of history repeating itself, the Super Metroid death vocal also had to be changed for being too sexual.