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Spike Spencer and Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment

So, I’m not exactly the RPG type. And I haven’t played the game yet. But I did happen to grab a few minutes with Spike Spencer. A notable voice actor in the anime and gaming worlds, Spike lends his vocal talents to the characters Connor Ganson and Menicks Rence.

Vandal Hearts

Vandal Hearts

Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment

is Konami’s long awaited upgrade to its popular tactical RPG series. Available for Xbox Live® Arcade and PlayStation Network, the story is actually a prequel to the original Vandal Hearts game. Now, as two rival kingdoms position themselves for war, the orphan Tobias Martin, in a bid to defend his homeland, unites his comrades to fight for peace.  But, of course, all is not what it seems!

While nearly every game, regardless of console, uses dialogue between characters to give narrative depth to an otherwise bullet-fueled (and more or less POV) story arc, you’re either an RPG player or not. Com’on, you’ve probably experienced that frustrating moment in which you carelessly rushed through an ignored dialogue sequence. Interactive, yes. But you just based the controller to get back to the mayhem. Well, we often forget about those who truly subsist on character role-play. Even the World of Warcraft jokes (I’m thinking of that great South Park episode) have died down. Nevertheless, with the number of 3D virtual chat sites increasing online, more avatars are porting everyday. A whole new level of role-play, one imagined decades ago, is finally emerging.  And for RPG gamers, Konami desires to give you the “next gen” level of role-play experience; one that even the average gamer may buy into.

Boasting a speedy RPG pace, state-of-the-art user mechanics, a character-driven storyline, and multiple endings that hinge upon a player’s actions, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment is supposedly closing the virtual gap between player and character.

So, I’m not exactly the RPG type. And I haven’t played the game yet. But I did happen to grab a few minutes with Spike Spencer. A notable voice actor in the anime and gaming worlds (Evangelion, Code Geass 2, Bleach, World of Warcraft, Tales of Vesperia, Trauma Center, etc.), Spike lends his vocal talents to the characters Connor Ganson and Menicks Rence. Here’s how it went down.

James: Now, anime fans are particularly familiar with your work, but today we’re supposed to be talking Konami Digital’s Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment.  How did you get involved in this project? What was the appeal?

Spike: Well I’ve been involved with the gaming industry for a long time. Konami called me in for an audition. They offered me the part. I happily accepted! It’s my job. It’s how the biz works. And I love this work!   

James: So tell us about your character, or characters.

Spike: Connor’s a criminal. He’s mischievous. He’s got an attitude. And I really enjoyed playing a career criminal, a character soooo totally unlike me. Wink, wink, nod, nod… And for Menicks Rence, it was nice to play another character with a deeper voice, which a lot of people don’t realize I can do. It was a nice departure from all those effeminate little girly boys who save the world in a biomechanical frickin robot.

Spike Spencer

Spike Spencer

James

: Have you had a chance to play the game?

Spike: Unfortunately, no. My schedule has been so hectic lately.

James: Well, I can’t be mad at you. I haven’t played it yet either. Anyway, I can’t resist. You’ve been a part of some rather high profile anime series: Bleach, Code Geass, Full Metal Panic, Bubblegum Crisis.  But obviously my brain jumps right to Shinji Ikari. Would you say you’re most known for that role? Eva fans can be intense.

Spike: Ah yes. And yes they are! I can remember Cons where fans came right up and started addressing me as Shinji. I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m Spike! But I love the fans. I do. Com’on, I get to be a kid for a living! But I do have a love-hate relationship with Shinji Ikari. He’s a hard role to play. It’s a good challenge as an actor. But he’s crying all the time!

James: Do you have a favorite anime role or anime series?

Spike: Golden Boy. I only played a minor role. But I really like that series. And I enjoyed playing Koushaku in Buso Renkin. He’s so twisted.

James: Outside of anime and gaming, what would be your dream-acting gig?

Spike: Live acting has always been my main thing. I’d love to be on Syfy series. I love that channel, and the shows are great!

James: And is acting your main professional goal, or is there something else in your creative future, like directing or writing?

Spike: Oh I’ve been writing scripts. Got stuff I can’t talk about. But I’m working on one that I hope to have moving this year.

James: Spike, you’re just a the kid in the candy store, aren’t you?

Spike: Oh I love this job. I’m getting paid to make funny voices, hang out with friends, and play pretend. And then I get to travel all over the world to meet fans. I’m a big kid! I’m not growing up!

James: All right Spike, I don’t what to keep you too long. Where can fans find you next?

Spike: Right now, I know I’ll be at Anime Evolution in Vancouver, Imagicon in Alabama, and Puerto Rico’s Comic Con. But I also have a new website coming out. It’s still in development, and the site is called almostevilminions.com. This all about the fans, and the name says it all. I do have other websites, but they’re more for the profession and business. Here I’d like to try to blog as much as I can and have message boards. This one is all about the fun!

James: Thanks Spike. I appreciate the time.

Vandal Hearts

Okay, so my conversation with Spike ended up more tangential than narrowly focused on Vandal Hearts. Well, this can transpire with a character like Spike. A simple phone call turns into an impromptu, polyphonic delight; something I cannot convey here. The number of untapped characters hiding along his vocal chords is amazing. You know it’s Spike on the other end, but the variety of voices that may address you is seemingly schizophrenic. Spike is just that good, and fun.

So, just take that bit of info and lend it to the depth of character that Konami is boasting.  Talent clearly underscores the strong characters of this RPG game. If RPG is your thing, or you’re just looking for more connectivity between you and your gaming persona, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment is probably for you.

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