During a recent Nintendo event, Gaijin Games revealed that Mario voice actor Charles Martinet is acting as narrator for Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. His performance is a break from what we traditionally think of when we think of Martinet, as it's a lot lower-pitched and less accented than the Mario family. But you can definitely tell it's-a him ... because he introduces himself.
"We wanted to get Charles because obviously he's recognizable," Gaijin Games founder Alex Neuse said in a follow-up interview. "We like him, he's funny, and silly, and great, and awesome. We wanted to have a whimsical character voice that's reminiscent of old cartoons. You remember those old Looney Tunes when they would do 'the car of the future!'" The visual design of the game is meant to recall cartoons, with bright, colorful, rounded visuals and angular, minimal Saul Bass-esque cutscenes.
The choice of Martinet after nationwide auditions felt right for reasons beyond the sound of his voice. "I think that Mike [Roush, Gaijin Games co-founder] and I were both really excited about it," Neuse said, "because our games have been on Nintendo platforms and it kind of felt like ... it's a home, the Nintendo stuff, and he's part of that home, even though he was living in another room until now."As for the (classy) self-introduction – "I'm Charles Martinet, and now it's time for Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien" – that found its inspiration in a terrarium. "We wanted him to be 'Charles Martinet' and not just some no-name narrator for a few reasons," Neuse said. "Primarily, because we loved Seaman. Do you remember when Leonard Nimoy introduced Seaman?" Nimoy narrated your progress in the Dreamcast game, as you fed and cared for a man-faced fishmonster. Rather than act as an anonymous narrator, Nimoy's opening monologue tells the player "My name is Leonard Nimoy, and I will be your guide." Neuse said "I liked Seaman a lot and I thought the whole game was fun, but I thought that was almost the funnest part of the game. It was so out there."
Martinet's work in the game includes narration of cutscenes and occasional interstitial videos, along with fake product placements that pop up at the start of the game – like the "Burger Mouth" commercial above. Martinet even contributed some material while recording those ads. "Mike and I came up with most of them," Neuse explained. "We were all just having so much fun recording them because they're very silly. And Charles started coming up with some. I think two or three of the ones he came up with are in the game, that we weren't planning on doing. Like Tim's Tomato Grinds."
Runner2 is coming to PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, Xbox, and Wii U early next year. Pre-orders are already open on Steam.