Video Games’ First Spoken Words Still Sound Good Today

Video Games’ First Spoken Words Still Sound Good Today

When it released in 1980, computer voice compression cost around $US1000 per word. Berzerk spoke about 20 and it was a sensation. Gorf and later Wizard of Wor likewise used speech synthesis to heckle players.

We’ve come a long way since those dark ages, as this roundup of 50 early attempts at voice synthesis, compiled by, show. Yes, there are standbys like “Blades … of Steel!” and “Save keys to open doors” (from Gauntlet. What, no “Elf needs food”?) But where is “Skate or die?” “Double dribble?” What about Sark laughing at you in Discs of Tron or Paperboy‘s many plaintive comments? Why “Power up!” from Altered Beast and not the Fudd-ian “Wiiiiise fwum yuw gwaaaave….”

I’m delighted that they did think to mention Intellivision’s B-17 Bomber, one of the earliest console titles to use digitized voice. (Wikipedia says Space Spartans was the first Intellivoice title.) You’ll probably think of something not showcased in this video of 50 early attempts to deliver real speech to video games. So consider these 50 not an all-encompassing catalogue, but a beginning, of something we take for granted today.

50 Attempts at Speech in Early Video Games []


  • Where’s Aussie Rules Footy? “Out of bounds, on the full” was probably the first actual voice i encountered in a game. Blew my tiny, impressionable little mind away, that did. That, and Impossible Mission’s “Stay a while….. stay forever!! Mwahahahaha!!” And who didn’t spam the crap out of the appeal button to troll their mates on Super International Cricket? “Howzat! Howzat! Howzat! Howzat! etc.”

    EDIT: Damn ninjas.

  • I know 39 was used for the main Sonic games (1 through Knuckles) and 38 was Sonic 3D Blast, but what Mega Drive/Genesis game used number 37?

  • My favorite has to be in Metal Slug “RAWKET LAWNCHAIR” “HAEVY MACHEEEGANN”

    Shame that wasn’t in the video but oh well.

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