New page! Resident Evil page! New Resident Evil page!

Saints be praised; I’ve added a page to the site! You can even look at it!

It contains all of the press the book has received so far, as well as the interviews I have done and the podcast appearances I have made. I’ll keep it updated as best I can, but if there’s some coverage you find before I do, let me know!

There will also be some purchasing information once the book is released, and I plan on creating a clickable version of the book’s back matter as well.

The book comes out next month which is horrifying. In all seriousness, though, I can’t wait to get it into your hands. As you’ll see on the page, people seem to like it. And you’re people. YOU DO THE MATH.

ALF Reviews: Summer Game Fest 2020

It is a truth universally accepted that the year 2020 is the worst thing. Race riots, pandemics, voter suppression…it’s been a rough stretch. The fact that the second half of the year is being officially heralded in by ALF is evidence that things are only going to get worse.

For those of you reading in the distant future — within the next seven or eight years that humanity has left — I’ll set the context a bit. Each summer for the previous 25 years, the Electronic Entertainment Expo gave teenagers a reason to stop masturbating for a couple of days. New video games, game consoles, and sometimes even chairs that vibrate would make their debuts. Eventually they’d be released in much worse shape than they seemed to be during their reveal, but, still, it was fun.

Here in 2020, the event was cancelled due to the fact that everybody died. In its place, various companies and organizations have held their own roughly concurrent digital events. We still get the trailers and reveals, but now we get them in smaller, more-focused chunks. I assume. I haven’t watched most of it. Hitman 3, though!

Anyway, part of the fun of E3 was seeing all of the celebrities and musicians trotted out to pretend they had any interest in games whatsoever. Money well spent, I’m sure. With the event cancelled and shitty digital streams taking their place, no celebrity wants anything to do with it.

Enter ALF, whose coat was dusted of spider eggs so that he could serve as the emcee (M and C are also letters in Melmac!) for whatever the hell this stream today turns out to be.

I know the focus will be on the games and not ALF, but “ALF Loves a Mystery” was focused on cartoons and I reviewed that so I’m legally obligated to cover this as well. Only this time it will be much sadder because I’m actually watching this shit live.

Why is ALF hosting this event? He has nothing to do with video games. Unless there’s going to be a surprise reveal of an HD remake of ALF for the Master System with voice acting (Willie will be played by a malfunctioning juicer), I don’t get the connection at all. I guess the connection is that Summer Game Fest had $50 to spend on a host and Paul Fusco wanted his electricity turned back on.

Actually, this whole pandemic thing must be perfect for ALF appearances. Nobody will have to interact with Fusco directly, or be trapped in a trench next to him while he makes the puppet scream obscenities and hit on children.

The big news for this stream seems like it will be the reveal of Crash Bandicoot 4. Crash Bandicoot 4 was revealed like three days ago, though, so maybe they weren’t counting on many people sitting through irrelevant ALF monologues after all.

I have nothing against Crash Bandicoot, but I’m not a fan. I didn’t grow up playing his games and getting around to them as an adult hasn’t impressed me. Compare that to Spyro the Dragon; I also didn’t play those games growing up, but I adored the original trilogy when I finally got around to them a few years back.

All of which is to say I’m not interested in the whole reason to tune in so I am sure I will have a great time watching ALF bitch about the removal of Confederate monuments.

The stream is starting with two guys playing music from Outer Wilds. No sign of ALF yet. Let’s hope the stream can keep that up!

I wasn’t a fan of Outer Wilds. It should have been up my alley — the game was about aliens and time loops and you could roast a marshmallow — but it didn’t engage me at all. There are plenty of games with minimal “gameplay” that are still great, but I think other games look at those examples and use it as an excuse to do very little. What Remains of Edith Finch crafted the most moving, haunting, memorable video game experience I’d had in years, and the gameplay consisted of little more than moving around. Outer Wilds seems like it looked at games along those lines and rather than said, “That is also the best way to tell our story,” it said, “Oh, I bet we can get away with that.”

We’re 12 minutes into the stream and one of the guys just introduced himself and said, “We’re about to play some Outer Wilds.” I thought you were playing it. What the hell was that 12 minutes of noodling about, you fuck? I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between that and the actual tunes from the game.

It’s not bad music, but…it’s just there. I’m sure it’s a richer composition than I’m giving it credit for being, but it’s just spacey background stuff with guitar melodies that periodically move to the fore.

20 minutes in and this is still going. One of the musicians is so bored with his own performance he turns around to check his Facebook notifications. I’m not even sure the one on the right isn’t a mannequin.

People go to concerts to hear the music of Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda, and I can understand that. I’d be happy if some guys came out to play Donkey Kong Country or Mega Man music, or Mario or Crash or Spyro, because those games have songs I might actually want to listen to. This is just a galactic throb.

I dunno. Maybe ALF will make some joke about space since Outer Wilds takes place in space and ALF is from space but I honestly doubt there will have been any coordination between the video game side of things and the obsolete puppet sitcom side of things.

If I ever wanted to put a baby to sleep and also give it a lifelong confusion regarding what music sounds like, I’d play this.

I’ve never wanted ALF to kick down a door and burp more than I want it right now. I think I’d stand up and cheer.

It’s been 25 minutes and the guy on the left just pulled out a banjo. I was glad to see that happen because I was afraid I’d passed away in front of a static image.

Guys, I like instrumental music. I love it. I even love freeform experimentation with little in the way of clear direction. I love Phish. I love Zappa. I love Medeski Martin & Wood. This sounds more like an Explosions in the Sky cover band you wish you play a little more quietly so you could concentrate on the bartop trivia machine.

28 fucking minutes later, and ALF has not aged well at all.

This guy introduces himself, then the video goes away to show an overall schedule and then comes back to the same guy in the same room and he introduces himself again. He says ALF will show up at some point.

I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a joke that Crash Bandicoot comes to his house instead, or if both Crash Bandicoot and ALF just happen to be in the same stream with no connective tissue whatsoever between them.

Crash Bandicoot shouts and plays a trailer. It plays that irritating as fuck “Funk Soul Brother” song that came out when I was 18 and which I’ve therefore hated for my entire adult life.

Crash takes a selfie.

The guy comes back and says the game will come out in October, and he interviews one of the guys who made it via Zoom.

I don’t know what the value is of keeping the date in the middle of the screen throughout the entire stream. I’m annoyed. What else is new.

The guy being interviewed is from Toys for Bob. They are the ones who did the remakes of the Crash and Spyro trilogies recently, and those were both good. I guess if you like Crash you should be pretty happy. He’s talking about how he learned from the originals and wants to bring back that spirit.

It’s been 36 minutes and there’s been no fucking sign of ALF. Is he even involved in this, or did you all get together to trick me into thinking he’d show up so that I’d write something for this site again?

Speaking of which, I know I know. It’s been a while. There’s so much I want to write but so little time. I’d like to get back to writing here regularly. You can stop sticking ALF’s face on things just so I’ll pop back up, I promise.

They’re just talking about all the stuff you can do in Crash 4. There’s not much for me to cover because it just looks like another game in a series I barely know anything about. Looks fine. I hope you like it.

Then ALF shows up! Paul Fusco struggles to read jokes he doesn’t understand off an index card somebody handed him. It’s actually pretty funny how difficult it is for him to wrap his performance around what he’s saying. Fuco’s preparation for this segment extended to cashing his check.

Anyway, he jokes about being in hiding from the government for decades and then provides some hilarious gaming tips the way a only 65-year-old man speaking through an oven mitt can.

tip 1: clean the fur off your controllers every 20 minutes
tip 2: don’t charge your controller in the microwave
tip 3: don’t play warzone with ET
tip 4: don’t wear pants

Great. Then we go back to that other guy who introduces a Smite clip too brief for me to even get a screenshot. Already we go back to ALF.

He jokes about wanting to eat the cat from the Stray trailer (which dropped about a week ago and has nothing to do with this event) and he says it looks so realistic he can smell the barbecue sauce.

He also jokes about this guy’s career being over due to a Dorito’s thing and says he needs to stream fro 24 hours on Twitch to become partnered and fucking hell why am I watching this. Do kids think this is funny? Who is this for? People who used to remember ALF and know he has nothing to do with this? Or kids to whom these jokes are timely but have no fucking clue who the hell the fuzzy ribeye is delivering them?

He does make some comment about potentially making his return to video games, which I can’t decide if I admire. Certainly if he’d have said, “It’s about time I got a video game of my own!” or something I’d fly to his house and beat him up, but acknowledging that ALF on the Master System exists, even fleetingly, might make me angrier.

Somebody, somewhere, is going to hear him say that and think, “ALF had a video game? I’d better track it down and play it!”

That’s a kick in the dick 31 years in the waiting.

ALF disappears so video game people can talk about video games again. We see a few new ones. I miss their names. This one has a big pause button on it during the gameplay footage.

Then we see a game called The Artful Escape. It’s about a disappearing jazz club or something. It looks boring as hell. The character walks around doing nothing.

One of the other characters talks to him, and the player is presented with a bunch of dialogue options. He chooses the option to end the conversation immediately. Man, it can’t even engage whoever is demonstrating this gameplay footage.

The character plays the guitar to communicate with animals I guess. They say you can choose what planet he is from.

I don’t want to play this.

As much as Crash 4 was the main draw, the core of this presentation is Day of the Devs, focused on indie games. I’ve never watched these streams before, but I do like indie games (as elastic as that definition is) so I do usually check out the announcements afterward.

So far none of this is really for me. This one, Starbase, is the closest one that looks interesting, but it’s an MMO and I know I’ll never have the time to play one of those as long as I live.

Still, it’s someone’s passion project. It looks cool and the two developers who are talking about it seem nice and genuine. I hope it sells better than Alien Guitarist.

Someone introduces Foregone. She said they wanted to create a game that reminded them of the games from their childhood, and clearly based it on Dead Cells, a game from three years ago.

I’m being snarky; I’d play this for sure. Dead Cells wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been, and I’m convinced its fans enjoy it more for what it wants to do than for what it actually does. If Foregone (or some other game) can take and refine that formula to give us the game we should have had all along, I’m on board.

It seems pretty good actually.

Then they introduce Spinch, which looks and sounds fucking fantastic.

I could be wrong. I don’t know jack shit about these games other than what they’re showing, but Spinch just seems naturally awesome. The soundtrack sounds great and the music was made by a guy with a bunch of toys.

I love this. I’m on board.

Then we see Ynglet, described as a platformer without platforms just to further upset genre sticklers.

Don’t ask me to explain anything I’ve seen, even after the developer has explained it to me. Looks like it might be fun but I’m already daydreaming about Spinch.

We’re told Ynglet takes place in Denmark. Well, fucking DUH.

Then Skate Story, about a skater made of glass who skates to Hell skates and skate

It actually looks good, graphically. It’s pretty gorgeous in motion. If I liked skating I’d be into this. Then there’s Black Book, which is a 19th century Eastern European deck-building game. I’d be into it if I were into 19th century Eastern European deck-building.

Unfortunately for everyone, I’m only into Spinch and ALF.

A guy shows up to talk about Drake Hollow and he brings his dog, which makes this the best reveal yet.

His company made The Flame and the Flood, which I didn’t think was very good. This game has that weird sort of hard-rubber cartoony look of Fortnite. Even the animations look similar. The game is clearly different from that one, but the inspiration is clear. That’s fine. Not my thing. Put the dog back on camera.

Panzer Paladin looks great. It has a clear Mega Man feel with an emphasis on melee combat that reminds me of Zelda II. I’m definitely interested in this. You can even make your own weapons with a pixel-art drawing mechanic. It’s cute.

It’s supposed to come out this summer for the Switch, which is a perfect home for it. This and Spinch are the MVPs so far.

Then Haunted Garage, which is a game with a minimalist art style that is completely ruined by that fucking date that seems to need to be plastered across the middle of the stream for no benefit to anyone whatsoever.

Seems weird in a good way. It looks like the sort of game I’d get nothing out of but a lot of people will make hour-long video essays about. Which I mean as a compliment.

Eternal Cylinder looks kind of neat. You’re a little alien (or a squadron of little aliens?) and your planet is being destroyed by this gigantic cylinder that rolls along behind you, crushing everything. I have a hard time expressing why this appeals to me except that it’s exactly what I hope happens to my planet in 2021.

Then a game from the folks who made Journey. I think I’m the only one in the world who didn’t enjoy Journey. I’ve been meaning to write about why, and this has reminded me to do so at some point. The game looks fine for people who liked Journey. I did not like Journey.

There’s also a graphical adventure game called The Night is Grey. It seems to either have a time-loop mechanic or the trailer was short so they repeated footage.

Knuckle Sandwich looks like a cross between Earthbound and Undertale. It takes place on a fictional Australian island. The developer says, “I hope you dig it.” Which is adorable and I love it already.

Then Sea of Stars, which was made by the guys who did The Messenger. The Messenger was fantastic.

Huge Chrono Trigger vibes off of this one. If they can do justice to this they way they did to the action platformers of yesteryear, this will be amazing.

Then Over Look Trail which was too quick a trailer to even get a screenshot but it was a guy eating Cheerios.

We get another performance, this time by Dose One, who evidently provided music for the rest of the stream. I don’t remember any of it.

It goes on forever. This is what plays in the bandcamp elevators.

He says “Black lives matter” at the end, which is correct and welcome and probably also why ALF refuses to show up a third time.

Yeah, that was it for the old ALFer. Two segments crammed almost back to back at the very beginning of the stream. So…what was the point of having ALF involved at all?

I get having a celebrity walk across the stage to thunderous applause makes your event look good, even if nobody, including the people applauding, truly give a shit. But this was Paul Fusco reading a grand total of two paragraphs somebody wrote for him, stumbling over it without a second take, and then putting ALF back in the broom closet.

Like…was that worth it? I don’t know…let’s say somebody had a Pac-Man puppet come out, or something. It would have been exactly as stupid, but it would have had some kind of connection to what we were watching.

Instead we just cut away twice to an emaciated gorilla and asked, “Remember this guy? No? Well, he was on TV for a while…not all that long really…” then trailed off and left you to wonder why anyone bothered.

I mean, I guess I got to see some neat games. Honestly, most of them looked good even if they didn’t appeal to me. And it reminded me to write about Journey sometime. And it reminded me that I hate ALF and I hate ALF’s ass face.

For fuck’s sake.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far into an ALF post that didn’t have much ALF in it, you deserve a reward for being good: I’ll be announcing the next TV show I’ll cover soon.

I’ve held off on covering anything in the ALF-review style because it takes a lot of work and most shows, honestly, either don’t deserve the hatred or don’t deserve the effort.

Then I found a show that made me angrier than ALF ever did.

Oh yes.

Stay tuned.

MELMAC FACTS: ALF attended reform school and majored in software development. He created Hatsune Miku but can’t pronounce it. On Melmac, cave paintings had more pixels than the PS5. In their version of Grand Theft Auto, you did “real time”; ALF still has three stars over his head in the Andromeda Galaxy.

Announcement: Upcoming convention appearance, Aug. 8-9

I’m thrilled and honored to announce that I will be a special guest at Uplink, the digital convention by the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. I hope you can join me; it’s going to be a fun time!

A while back I considered reaching out to conventions to help promote Resident Evil, but then the world collapsed and a plague killed everyone, so conventions were either cancelled or suddenly a Very Bad Idea. I figured I’d wait for next year and hope for the best.

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo changed my plans. Thanks to the pandemic, they are taking their annual convention online under the name Uplink. They reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in being a special guest and, after learning more about the event, I agreed.

Uplink is interesting and ambitious. I hope it goes well, because it seems like they are taking the entire convention experience — barring the wealth of illnesses you’d take home with you — online. Guests, panels, discussions, activities, cosplay…and my personal favorite things: vendors and gaming tournaments.

Colorado Pop Culture Con, one of my favorite experiences of each year, has been cancelled, so strictly as an attendee, this would interest me. As a special guest, I am profoundly flattered to be involved.

It’s not just me, either; there are a lot of other great folks on the roster, including a good number I’m interested in seeing myself.

What’s more, any convention appearance I could make in person would leave a lot of people out. I don’t expect folks to travel across the country — or to the country — just to shake my hand / punch me in the neck. Now, at Uplink, anyone anywhere can join in real time and call me the noun of their choice. It’s fun!

What will I be doing there? Well…more details to come, so stay tuned. But I will have at least one panel, and hopefully some other fun things to reveal as well. I’m sorry if that sounds cryptic, but this is the first year for Uplink and a lot of things are still being figured out. As the date approaches and I know more, I’ll be glad to share it with you here.

I’m very much looking forward to it, and I hope you are as well. Tickets are on sale right now for a measly $10, so definitely consider attending. It should be a fun weekend, and I’d love to see you there.

UPLINK 2020

When: August 8-9
Where: Online!
Information: uplink.liretro.com/
Tickets: Available now

Best ending

The Kickstarter has ended with 615% funding. That makes it Boss Fight Books’ most successful campaign yet.

To everyone who backed the campaign — whether for my book, somebody else’s book, or all or any combination of the books — I want to say thank you, sincerely.

This was a long, challenging project. I’m very happy with how it turned out and I suspect you will be as well.

If you did order my book specifically, you can expect updates directly from Boss Fight Books. As of right now, the anticipated month of publication is August. If there are any delays it will be due to the fact that the world is crumbling around us; the book itself is complete and ready to print.

If you didn’t back the campaign but still want a copy of my book, just sit tight. I’ll have ordering information for you as soon as possible, but it will be available through Boss Fight Books directly, through Amazon, through Barnes & Noble, and almost certainly through any other book shop of your choice.

I will also sell some here, through this site. If you buy it here, I’ll be glad to sign it. If you buy it elsewhere and would like me to sign it…stay tuned. I’ll figure something out.

I have more to share, more to write about, more to discuss, but it’s been a difficult few weeks for everybody, even compared to how difficult this entire year has already been. It’s difficult to write and to focus. I’m glad I finished the book when I did. I cannot imagine trying to work on it right now.

Regardless, more to come soon. More announcements, more goodies, more of whatever it takes to stay afloat. My good news is very small in comparison to the bad news so many are facing every day. I know that. I won’t pretend otherwise.

Keep strong. Keep fighting. Do not give up.

REactors

I had a wild idea early in the drafting phase of my Resident Evil book: I’d try to contact one of the actors or voice actors from the game, so that I could include some insight regarding those infamous performances.

It was something I both really wanted to do and something I’d already resigned myself to failing at. I’m some nobody on the internet, after all, who wanted them to set aside their personal time to talk about the most embarrassing roles of their lives for free.

It was important, though, that I’d try. If I couldn’t include any anecdotes or insights from these primary sources, I could rely on whatever information I could find and verify on my own, and that would be fine. But I at least had to give it a shot.

I ended up getting not one actor from the game, which was the goal I set for myself, or two actors from the game, which I’d have considered a massive success. I got every known actor from the game, with only two exceptions. If we narrow the focus to only the surviving actors from the game, there was only one exception.

I knew from the start there would be a lot of difficult work ahead of me. Nowadays you can read the in-game credits, get somebody’s name, reach out to their agent, and hope they grant you an interview. But back in 1996, when Resident Evil was released, actors were rarely credited. In Resident Evil specifically, the voice actors are not credited, and the live-action actors are credited only by their first names. What’s more, these actors were as likely to be friends of the developer as they were professionals with representation.

Oh, and, also, none of the live actors knew they were in the game.
You’ll learn why that is in the book, as well as the fascinating oral histories of both the live performances and voice recording sessions. In this post, I want to take you through how those chapters came to be.

(The book, by the way, is nearing an incredible 500% funded on Kickstarter. Preorder it now if you haven’t already!)

Walking you through the process of discovery and outreach wouldn’t be worth it or interesting in any way. Through whatever avenue of communication was available to me, I sent a message letting them know who I was and that I was writing a book about Resident Evil. I was as honest and friendly as possible, and I made it clear that I respected and valued their time. I didn’t offer any kind of compensation, but I promised each of them a copy of the finished book as a way of saying thanks. I invited them to contact the publisher if they wished to verify anything I was telling them. (I don’t know if any of them did that, but it was important to me that I afforded them the opportunity.)

Thanks to the tireless work of Monique Alves and Fred Fouchet, two Resident Evil fans who have been researching and chronicling the game as much as possible over the years, I had almost uniformly solid leads. Some of the actors they had already spoken to. Others they hadn’t been able to reach but were sure they had the right people. In a few cases there was only partial information available.

I took everything they were able to give me and hoped for the best.

I got better than the best.

CHRIS REDFIELD


The first actor who got back to me, and also the first I was able to speak with, was Charlie Kraslavsky, the original Chris Redfield.

Kraslavsky played Chris in the game’s live-action opening sequence and its conclusion, assuming he survives in your playthrough. As with the other live actors, he delivered all of the character’s dialogue on set, but was ultimately overdubbed by a voice actor.

He set the stage for all my interviews by being unexpectedly friendly. I say “unexpectedly” because Resident Evil isn’t exactly a friendly game. It’s deadly serious, cruel, and profoundly punishing. While I of course wouldn’t assume a guy who put on a costume for the opening sequence would share the game’s “personality,” the fact is that the game was the only window into any of these people I had. My feelings on Resident Evil were the only feelings I could associate them with.

Speaking with Kraslavsky was like speaking with someone you might have known back in high school, but only barely. Somebody with whom you had a shared history but which didn’t entirely overlap. You could both speak the same language and you had a lot of common ground, but there were lots of things you knew that he didn’t, and lots of things he knew that you didn’t.

Our discussion was very conversational. I could also tell it was honest, simply because he didn’t try to pretend he had a better memory of the filming that he actually does. He let me know whenever I asked a question he couldn’t answer with confidence, nearly always volunteering different information instead, as a probably unintentional method of apology.

He made sure to share as much as he could. He pointed me toward the few other actors he remembered by name, and he shared as much as he remembered about the others.

Every human being who watches the live-action introduction of Resident Evil will know it wasn’t quite…professional filmmaking, but Kraslavsky had nothing but nice things to say about everybody he worked with.

That’s exactly how he came across to me as a person. Not as some guy who is willing to talk about an old job, but as somebody who will reach for positive things to say about everyone involved. He did not have an unkind word to say about anyone, and I don’t think that’s because he forgot or avoided these things. I think Kraslavsky genuinely doesn’t see people negatively.

I could not have asked for a better start, and I also learned that it’s his frightened eyeball we see on the game’s title screen. That was interesting enough, and the fact that he had a great anecdote to go along with it was even better.

Let me emphasize that: Kraslavsky is the kind of guy who has a great anecdote about the time someone filmed his eyeball.

One of the talents I was not able to interview was Scott McCulloch, who voiced Chris in the game. McCulloch passed away in 2000. I was very fortunate that the other voice actors I was able to speak to were willing to share their memories of working with him.

Therefore, out of sad necessity, McCulloch is obviously not interviewed in the book. I did, however, want to make sure he had a presence in the narrative. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.

BARRY BURTON


For fan-favorite character Barry Burton, I got to interview both his live actor and voice actor. One was a markedly more difficult process than the other, though.

The easy part was getting a hold of Greg Smith, the live actor. Kraslavsky had been in touch with him a few times since they met during filming. Starting with Kraslavsky ended up being a real benefit to me, I think, because the guy is so friendly and lovable that he was willing to let others know that my project was worth being a part of. I could not possibly be more grateful.

Smith is an educator in Australia. He’s a large, physically imposing man — he looks like and is an avid biker — but was just as friendly as Kraslavsky, albeit in a different way. Kraslavsky comes across like a friend from another lifetime. Smith comes across like a beloved uncle you don’t get to see often enough.

His thick Australian accent and playful sense of humor are far removed from his appearance. If a man who looked like him started to pick a fight with me in a bar, for instance, I’d be worried. On the phone, though, he was the closest thing imaginable to a human teddy bear.

Smith had the most vivid memories of the actual filming. Kraslavsky, by contrast, had the most vivid memories of the behind-the-scenes production details. Together, they painted an almost complete portrait of each day of shooting.

Barry’s voice actor, Barry Gjerde, posed more of a problem. Without question, Gjerde’s performance in Resident Evil is the most notorious. That’s the reason I really wanted his insight, but it’s also the reason I wasn’t likely to get it. Gjerde has been relentlessly bullied online for decades, all for a job he couldn’t possibly have done well.

For much of his career, Gjerde was open and approachable. Once the bullying started up — strangers from all around the world actively harassing him for lines he didn’t write — that started to change. Eventually it became so serious that he removed himself from the internet.

I was able to track down various old contact methods, but I had no reason to think they still worked or, if they did, that he still checked them.

I reached out anyway, of course. I wanted to let him know that this was an opportunity to speak for himself. I wanted him to be aware that this was not a hit piece. My aim was not to mock and abuse, but simply to get the story from the folks who were involved.

I told him all of those things in my messages, but, of course, he had no reason to believe them. I couldn’t blame him at all.

Knowing I wouldn’t likely have his involvement, I looked up more of his work. I’d heard some of it without even realizing it — he played Red in Mega Man X7, for instance — and sought out much more.

Gjerde was, and remains, an extremely good voice artist. He has a very clear and proper diction, and his voice is almost overwhelmingly soothing. The more I listened to, the more I was convinced his performance in Resident Evil could not have been his own fault. So what happened? I wanted the story more than ever.

It was only after I interviewed Ward Sexton — Resident Evil’s narrator, who we will discuss later — that I was able to get it.

I let Sexton know that I was having difficulty reaching Gjerde; this may or may not have shocked Sexton, but he offered to help. He and Gjerde weren’t just old colleagues; for many years they had been good friends. He — a human being Gjerde respected and cared about, as opposed to some dodo on the internet — reached out and let Gjerde know that the book was nothing to be afraid of.

He shared his own experience being interviewed by me, and let Gjerde know that I wasn’t a bully or a fraud. He told Gjerde that if he were interested in sharing his side of the story, now was the time.

I don’t know any of this because Sexton told me; I know this because Gjerde, months after I’d tried so hard to find him, responded to one of my old emails. I’d reached him after all, but it was only after Sexton went out of his way to back up my claims that Gjerde was willing to talk.

And talk he did. Gjerde is such a friendly and wonderful man that the fact that he’d been bullied for so long and for such strange reasons became more and more distasteful to me.

I suspect Gjerde found it difficult at first to open himself up to me because he’s a sensitive person. That’s borne out by the things he was willing to share and the warmth with which he shared them. When someone criticized him, it must have hurt. When that criticism became constant, it must have been unbearable. Gjerde isn’t and has never been a negative guy. When negativity was directed toward him, he just stepped back and got out of its way.

He didn’t want to come back into focus, but I’m so glad and honored he was willing to speak with me after all. His perspective ended up being both crucial to the story I was telling and profoundly enlightening as to how a solid voice artist ended up being known for one of the most infamous performances in video game history.

JILL VALENTINE


When you think of Resident Evil, you think of Jill Valentine. Which might be a bit odd, because to this day nobody knows who the heck she is.

Neither Jill’s live actor nor voice actor have been identified. Her live actor is credited as Inezh in the game, which is at least an uncommon name, but Kraslavsky thinks that might be a typo, so that could be even less helpful than having no information at all.

Fans have tried for more than two decades to find either of Jill’s actors, and it still hasn’t happened. Both Kraslavsky and Smith shared their memories of the live actor, and perhaps the information they provided will help somebody to make headway in the search.

I, of course, tried to track them down as well. I wasn’t trying to “outdo” anyone who had looked for her in the past as much as I would have loved to find her as a way of paying the Resident Evil community back for all of the information they provided me.

No luck. But while I was writing, there was a big breakthrough on the game’s other leading lady.

REBECCA CHAMBERS


Will Jill being an absolute no-go, I wanted even more to get in touch with one of Rebecca’s actors. After all, if I failed to do so, I wouldn’t have any female perspective in these sections at all. While that’s bound to happen now and then, Resident Evil has two very famous female characters; not hearing from any of the four actors playing those characters would represent a glaring absence.

Like Jill, though, nobody had identified Rebecca’s live actor. I tried to do so; I failed to do so. That was also a no-go.

I invested my efforts in contacting Lynn Harris, who had voiced the character. Harris had a long history of video game voice work which — at the time I was researching — seemed to have come to a stop in 2007 with Mega Man ZX Advent. That’s if IMDB is to be believed, and it probably shouldn’t be; it now claims she voiced Amy Rose in 2017’s Sonic Mania. If that’s true, it wasn’t there when I was looking previously. It also doesn’t reflect her role in 2019’s Dragon Marked for Death, even though she is clearly credited in game. What’s more, her narrative on that page claims that she voiced Rebecca in Resident Evil’s “opening FMV.” Rebecca indeed appears in that FMV, but has no lines; she isn’t voiced by anyone at all.

What you’ve just gotten is only a small sample of the strange, contradicting, twisting, easily dismissed information I found about Harris online. She’s gone by several names professionally. She’s listed for roles in productions nobody else seems to believe ever happened. Her biographies read like journal entries. She’s retired from the industry, but is also still active.

It was extraordinarily difficult to separate fact from fiction. With everybody else I researched this was also the case, but to a much smaller degree. In those cases, I’d have to weed out some bogus information. With Harris, I seemed to only find bogus information.

A friend of mine dug up some old forums posts. Buried within a long discussion on a completely different topic, one poster said he’d written to Harris around the time of Resident Evil and got a signed photo back. He couldn’t find the photo. We couldn’t get a hold of the poster.

Another commenter at an old forum claimed he’d communicated with Harris at one point and that she claimed to have directed the Resident Evil voice actors in addition to playing Rebecca. I tried to substantiate this claim and couldn’t, outside of a biography that was clearly written by Harris herself. There was no evidence for her having taken on this role that I could find, and it does indeed seem like a reasonable exaggeration. Perhaps she actually did help someone else figure out how to deliver a line, and with the same spirit that we all have when we update our resumes, she inflated her importance a bit.

It was only after I spoke to other voice actors and asked about her — and had them independently confirm the claim that she did unofficially direct the others — that I was willing to believe it. Now her input would be even more valuable.

I figured I could get her ear if she knew I wasn’t out to write anything insulting or damaging. In fact, Ward Sexton counted her as a friend just as he counted Barry Gjerde. He said he’d have gladly reached out, but he hadn’t spoken to her in years. He had only fond things to say about working with her, but wouldn’t know how to get in contact.

I reached out to some other voice actors who worked on the same games she did. I reached out to the developers that had hired her for their games. In most cases, as you might guess, I heard nothing back. In a few cases I got very polite emails in return, but they weren’t able to help me.

When I saw her name in Dragon Marked for Death — which I played almost immediately upon release, so I knew it was recent work — I got in touch with IntiCreates to see if they’d pass along an interview request. They said they would. That was the last I heard…from them.

Not long afterward, a different voice actor reached out to me. I recognized her name. She sent me a very friendly message. There was not an ounce of ire or irritation in it. It boiled down to, “I know you’re looking for Lynn, but she isn’t interested in any kind of media contact. Please don’t try.”

Of course, I stopped trying. I was disappointed. I felt — and still feel — strongly that her involvement would have been to the book’s massive benefit. Think of all the untruths we could untangle. Think of the story we could finally tell about Resident Evil’s secret voice director.

But I get it. Gjerde may, consciously or not, have been waiting for the right time to speak up. Harris may not have been. She may still not be. Maybe hers is a story she doesn’t want to tell. Maybe, unlike Gjerde, she can’t believe somebody will treat her involvement with Resident Evil as something worthy of respectful discussion. Maybe she’s been burned before.

Or maybe she’s not comfortable anywhere but behind a microphone. Maybe interviews scare her. Maybe she’s more comfortable playing characters than speaking as herself.

I can only guess. But I think somewhere along the line, she did get my request for an interview. And she considered it at least long enough and seriously enough that she felt compelled to reply…albeit through a buffer she knew she could trust.

I don’t know where she is. I don’t know what she’s up to. But I hope she’s okay, and I hope she’s doing well. I’m genuinely sorry I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with her for the book.

Which, of course, meant that both Jill and Rebecca would go without representation in my narrative.

Until, late in the book’s editing, Fred Fouchet reached out. He’d found Rebecca’s actor. It was a miracle. I gave him the online equivalent of a hug and a high five.

Her actor, who is credited in game as Linda and prefers to keep her surname private, granted him a nice, long interview full of excellent insight.

I asked him to relay my interview request. She was not open to it. I don’t take that personally; unlike the other actors, she’d just surfaced. She didn’t know me. She stuck her head up and was immediately asked if she’d be part of a book project. The timing was unfortunate, but both she and Fred were willing to let me include the information and quotes that she shared with him.

We got our Rebecca.

ALBERT WESKER


Wesker’s voice actor is another who has not been identified. There is no shortage of theories online about who voiced him. I’m almost certain I’ve found and tested them all. Usually it would be a YouTube video comparing clips of Wesker in Resident Evil to clips of some other character in another game. The title would be, “WESKER VOICE ACTOR FOUND!!!” I’d listen to the clips and they wouldn’t sound even remotely similar.

In one case there was a decent comparison; the guy still sounded like a different person, but it was close enough to warrant followup. I reached out. The actor replied. It wasn’t him.

His live actor, however, was easy to find; he was a friend of Kraslavsky’s. (Who, in all honesty, wouldn’t be a friend of Kraslavsky’s?)

I’m bottomlessly amused by the fact that Chris and Wesker are friends in real life. There’s something so wonderful and adorable about that.

His live actor, Eric Pirius, was a good fit for the character. He’s a man of few words, and he still, to this day, looks strikingly similar to his on-screen avatar.

Unlike Kraslavsky or Smith, though, he wasn’t big on volunteering information. He answered every question, and my followups, but that was all. It didn’t come across as any kind of rudeness; he’s just less interested in conversation.

Ask Kraslavsky something and he’ll tell you everything he remembers feeling. Ask Smith and he’ll tell you everything he remembers happening. Ask Pirius something and he’ll tell you yes or no.

This was great in its own right — I wanted these actors to stand apart, to reveal their personalities, to be more than the things they had to say — but it also meant we weren’t able to use much of what he said in the book. Almost everything he covered was covered by somebody else in greater detail.

But that was okay. Wesker always was the quiet type. His actor not letting on any more than he needs to fit perfectly.

NARRATOR


And then there was Ward Sexton. The live actors were credited in-game by their first names only; the voice actors weren’t credited at all. The exception: Ward Sexton, credited by his full name.

Why? Well, he just had that much clout.

Most people will only remember a “narrator” in the game for saying two words: Resident Evil. The delivery of those words is unforgettable, but we don’t hear much more from Sexton in the game. During the opening titles he also says each character’s name as they are introduced.

That’s it.

So why reach out to him for the book? The answer to that should be obvious: Why not?

I’m glad I did, because Sexton’s involvement in Resident Evil extends far beyond what got pressed to the disc. He spoke to me about the problems with the script, about how he set himself apart from other voice actors, about the nature of voice acting in Japan and how, exactly, it leads to trainwreck performances such as what we see in Resident Evil.

From Sexton I got an insider’s view of what voice acting is like — or was like, in the mid-90s — in Japan. He had plenty of positive things to say, plenty of criticism, and a lot of great stories about being a professional in an industry that didn’t seem all that interested in professionalism.

He even talked to me about an early English Studio Ghibli dub of Porco Rosso. He produced and starred in it with — you guessed it — the cast of Resident Evil.

Tracking it down today isn’t easy — a far more beloved dub starring Michael Keaton has overwritten it completely — but I did indeed get my hands on a copy, and it’s all because a man famous for saying two words got his chance to say a lot more.

In most cases, I got stories from the trenches. “I went here, I did this.” And that was great. But thanks to Sexton, I also got to pull the camera back a bit and see things from a fascinating distance, covering larger quirks and concerns of an industry — and a period within that industry — that often goes undiscussed.

Give the book a try. You might like it.

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