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 Jest.com, 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 [Jest.com]