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The language of NPCs and other AI constructs in simulation games and some RPGs, made up of nonsense sounds strung together like actual words. It's not a cypher, normal speech spoken backwards or anything like that, it is quite simply gibberish or "Simlish" as The Simsmanual says.
This became especially popular in cartridge and floppy-based releases once fully voiced CD-ROM releases began showing up, as something of a compromise between the expression provided by voice acting and the enormous amount of storage required for it (not to mention that it can save quite a bit on both the budget and the audience's immersion.)
This is probably meant to suggest the NPCs are speaking in any and all languages at once, and save recording multiple voice tracks. The net effect of this isn't one of confusion but charm, as the tone comes to convey more than the words and they avoid the tedium or repeating the same lines over and over. Some games even have different voice sets for the Simlish, serving as audible Speech Bubbles (or tags to actual Speech Bubbles) to distinguish speakers.
Occasionally the developers will take the time to implement distinct English-sounding gibberish, Spanish-sounding gibberish, and so forth.
Compare Voice Grunting, which is somewhat similar, but not nearly as elaborate.
The Banjo-Kazooie games. Some call this trope "Banjo-speak." The first game even has questions in its Pop Quiz asking the player what character makes which sound. However, the narrator for Nuts & Bolts does, briefly, talk in English. In fact, Nuts & Bolts was originally going to go with full-blown English voice acting (the Xbox had the necessary hardware to make that viable, the N64 did not), but fan outrage over this suggestion caused them to stick with the Simlish for the final product.
The earliest versions of Rayman 2: The Great Escape included "Raymanian" as the default speech setting, and other versions, even with full multilanguage voiceovers, still let players switch back to the original voices. For all the simlish, the game does contain one actual word: Rayman yells "STOP!" in frustration at the bickering Teensies from the end of the first level. He also tends to say "Yeah!" and "Yahoo!" quite a bit when gaining new powers and the like.
The original Star Fox did this by chopping up the "wing damage" sample. Later, although Star Fox 64 ditched this, the European version Lylat Wars offered the original "language" as an option in addition to English.
In Star Fox Command, you can actually record your own voice for the game to distort into the gibberish that is spoken.
In Star Fox Adventures, there was actually a Cypher Language created with every word covered by Nintendo to the NPC variety ingame, namely "Dinosaur Language", or "Saurian" by the fandom. There is even a translator created by fan site Krystal Archive.
The Fallen can be heard speaking some phrases of the Cultist language in Shogo: Mobile Armor Division. Whether this is a hint towards a connection between Blood and Shogo, just re-use of resources Monolith already had done, or an Armacham-style nod at a previous game is unknown (and liable to remain unknown, since there are no current plans to continue the Shogo or Blood stories).
Link gets a couple of English line when controlling one of the partner NPCs during the two Temples. The rest of his sound bytes are either Simlish or grunts.
The King of Hyrule also gets a few near the end, in a mumbly sort of way.
Fi in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword also speaks Japanese-sounding Simlish. Auto-Tuned Simlish, to be precise. Zelda also sings the game's theme tune in Simlish. Zelda's singing is actually fully voice acted, it's just that her actress is singing gibberish (correction: Hylian) in imitation of Simlish.
Unlike Midna, her lines match up to her on-screen text. For example, "Matas" always matches up with Link's name.
Klonoa for the PlayStation and its PS2 sequel. Amazingly, the voice acting is quite good for utter gibberish, and each role is played by a different actor.
Not only that, but there definitely seems to be a structure to the different languages that everyone uses. For example, Klonoa always pronounces his name "Klo'řa" (for those who can't recognize ř, imagine a vowel halfway between O and U with a hint of E) and a lot of his sentences are based off of Japanese, while Popka's speech appears to be various growls and barks.
The Wiimake of the first game even allows you to choose between coherent Japanese or English voice acting or Simlish voices. This might be due to Klonoa Heroes and the character's appearance in Namco x Capcom averting this trope in a break of tradition.
Q*bert was an interesting example: although the arcade game made use of a speech synthesizer chip that was capable of pronouncing English words, the synthesized speech that was used in the game was pure Simlish. According to this anecdote by one of the developers, they initially tried to make the synthesizer produce actual words, but the result was so unintelligible (e.g., "bonus" came out sounding more like "bogus") that they finally just resorted to alien-sounding gibberish.
The film Wreck-It Ralph takes this to a whole new level, making it Q*Bert's official language with Fix-It Felix Jr. conversing with Q*Bert in "Q*Bertese"
The singing Yoshis in Yoshis Story for the Nintendo 64 sing in an indecipherable baby-talk-ish manner.
De Blob for Wii does this; you can occasionally make out important words like character and place names, but everything else is just nonsense that vaguely sounds like the on-screen subtitles.
This shows up in a few Sega games, such as Jet Set Radio Future and Sonic Unleashed, where most of the characters communicate in moans, laughter, and one-word sentences when not participating in cutscenes.
Beyond Good & Evil - Most of the lyrics to the vocal songs are Simlish-esque nonsense. According to the composer, he drew inspiration from languages such as English, Hungarian, and French for his "Simlish." Exceptions are the song "Spanish Bar/Fun and Mini-Games" is in actual Spanish, and "Akuda Bar Propaganda" uses Bulgarian ().
The characters in Mushroom Men use this kind of speech. While different character types have distinct voices, they are somewhat affected by what they're saying: A character saying "Welcome!" and a character with the same voice saying "Thank you!" will sound different.
The cool part is each character gets their own set of grunts and random words to string together, from Lady D's super-deep smoker's lung coughing to Hatsworth's own Stock British Phrases. "Good Show!"
Super Monkey Ball 2 has this in the (often puzzling and always insane) Story Mode. The monkeys speak in variations of "Uki" (which I guess is Japanese monkey onomotapoetia), and the bad guy Dr. Bad-Boon speaks in a backward masked voice, except oddly enough when saying his own name or the names of the monkeys.
The Mondo games (Mondo Medicals and Mondo Agency) feature support characters who talk in gibberish, with captions that are only slightly closer to real English.
The Croc series on the original Playstation is another nostalgic example. The first game had little to no dialogue, but still used grunts and random gibberish when applicable. The sequel went full on Banjo-style and had a proper script complete with simlish readings for most characters, apart from Swap Meet Pete who just rambles the same five or so syllables drunkenly.
However, if this is the case, how can they manage to sing?
Averted in Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes, where the characters are Suddenly Voiced.
Done entirely for laughs in Magicka. Every line is recorded individually, but spoken in a combination of English, Swedish, and Gibberish. The result sounds something like the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show, with lines like "Beware the forest's guardian, Jormungandr!" becoming "Hoop-a-doop-a-derpity-derp-a-Yoor-moon-gon-derrrrrr!"
In Twinsen's Odyssey, the residents of the planet Zeelich have a Simlish language. It is even subtitled, although the subtitles sometimes don't match the spoken text. During the game you are forced into picking up a "translator" item that will turn their speech into English.
The vocals in "After The Drop" from Medal of Honor: Frontline appear to be in pseudo-Dutch Simlish, as opposed to "Arnhem", which has real Dutch lyrics.
The humans of Asura's Wrath speak some kind of Gibberish that generally goes untranslated, but is understood by the demigods.
The narrator in the cutscenes of Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit uses a kind of "Habba-dabba-dabbu" style gibberish that sounds like he's underwater. All other characters either speak through text or sound bites.
The languages spoken in ICO and Shadow of the Colossus skirt the line between Simlish and a conlang. The languages are mostly gibberish designed more for their sound than anything (Yorda's language sounds vaguely French, Ico's sounds vaguely Korean, and Wander's meant to be speaking an ancient version of Ico's), but there's also some direct word mapping - 'nonomori' means 'thank you', for example.
One of the most iconic examples in gaming: the Opera House scene in Final Fantasy VI.
While in the show Pokémon use Pokémon Speak the games have each Pokemon have a cry that does not sound anything like their name.
Many older Japanese RPGs, as well as newer ones that eschew voice acting, use beeps of varying tones to convey the voices of characters while their dialog appeared in the text box. A little girl would get a high pitched tone while an older man would get a low pitched tone. This happened in pretty much every game that uses any sort of "text sound". Regular examples of this are too common to note, and the value of "older" gets stretched when talking about games for portable systems.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga] used vaguely Italian gibberish this with the titular brothers, though there were a few one-word exceptions, mostly when they call each other by name. In the first game, this is a running gag.
They sound impressively coherent and similar to the languages used in the Star Wars movies, but there's no actual meaning to the words being spoken. They also clearly didn't record a lot of it, as certain phrases are repeated often enough that, certainly by midway through either game, you could clearly tell that the same sounds are used for different words and phrases.
"Jata bata wanna needy bo." - Every male Twi'lek in existence. And every Rakata, too. They use the exact same phrases with a different voice.
Subverted, kind of, in Jade Empire, where the Asian-sounding gibberish Tho Fan is actually a real constructed language. However, every line of Tho Fan in the game is actually some form of cow joke, with no bearing to what's actually being said in the subtitles.
The expansion Mask of the Betrayer, for Neverwinter Nights 2, has Optional Party Member One-of-Many as a dark variant: a construct and conglomerate of dead souls inhabiting a spirit shell that other party members will openly describe as an abomination against all things. Its speech is described as a call of the dead that any mortal creature can understand, and expressed as sibilant gibberish in a digitally processed, high-pitched whisper. Depending on its mood, it can sound conversational, excited/gleeful, irritated, exclamatory, and even a variant with something like cackling laughter, but it never uses recognisable words.
While the Dudbear race in Legend of Mana probably has a bigger vocabulary than what is taught to you, you still manage to complete That One Sidequest with something like seven words.
Wizard 101 uses this with any cards that talk - the leprechaun, the imp, etc.
Little King's Story combines words and fragments from multiple languages to create its own odd language of nonsense, with one or two words actually used in context in English. Not surprisingly, these words are "King" and..."Moo."
In World of Warcraft, languages that the listener doesn't understand are obfuscated into Simlish by semi-randomly replacing words with words taken from that language's (very limited) dictionary.
Golden Sun... Sort of. The text-clicking has different pitches depending on the character, so woman and children get higher-pitched "clicking".
Golden Sun actually takes it a little farther: if you listen closely, there's changes in timing and inflection to mimic speech patterns, though it's still only tweaked Gameboy beeps.
Ditto Mother 3. This game has three text-clicking pitches: the highest one for female characters, the lowest one for male characters (including the drag queens, hilariously enough), and the middle-pitch one for children and non-human characters (i.e. frogs and Mr. Saturns).
The Hamtaro Game Boy series is a partial example: the Hamtaros converse in English, but they also have several cutsey-sounding keywords (and your quest is to find them all).
LEGO Racers 2 also had this, this also allowed them to put player's name in the dialogue without any problems.
It gets even funnier when you hold down the fast forward button, increasing the speed and pitch.
Simulation and Strategy
The Sims, of course. It became so famous the Pussycat Dollsactually re-recorded one of their songs in Simlish!
And it wasn't just the Pussycat Dolls either; artists such as Barenaked Ladies, Paramore, Lily Allen, Pixie Lott, Gaelic Storm, The Flaming Lips, Depeche Mode and Anthrax have recorded Simlish versions of one of their songs. The Ting Tings went one further and actually recorded one of their songs on their debut album entirely in Simlish.
For Urbz: Sims in the City, the Black Eyed Peas released the Simlish songs "Ga Ra Ta Da" ("Let's Get Retarded"/"Let's Get It Started") and "Friddy Dope".
Little bits of Simlish are taken from real languages, to make it sound universal. Will Wright has said that if you think you hear your Sim saying something that sounds like your native language, it probably is.
However, all the sounds found in Simlish (with the exception of perhaps an alveolar trill, the rolled R of Spanish) are also found in English. This is especially true of the Simlish vowel system, which has the five bajillion vowel sounds (complete with diphthongization!) of American English, a number which is rather uncommon.
there's also consonant palaatalization (think French "l" vs English "l" ), although it's difficult to tell if it's phonemic.
An older than Sim example: the Cocteau Twins' songs were mostly Simlish/gibberish, with a few English or Gaelic words thrown in.
SimCopter featured a variety of Simlish that sounded like English being spoken with teeth clenched and through the nose. If you listen to the intonations carefully, you can hear what they're trying to say.
"Nng hmm?! HMM!" ("Oh yeah?! Yeah!")
Similarly, the races of Spore speak like this from Tribal Stage and beyond, the voice clips in Civilization Stage and Space Stage reflecting their ethos - a military faction in Civ stage will sound like Americans. An economic faction will sound like snooty women, and a religious nation will sound like monks or priests. This continues into the space stage, where there are several dialects of simlish depending on archetype.
There are solid Simlish dialects for other races Described here, but Your race speaks 3 randomly selected simlish accents for each colony
And then there's Steve, who speaks plain English, leading to speculation that he is the last human or something.
Later games in the series used real languages, but the original Age of Empires used Simlish in the early ages, possibly because for some of the civilizations featured, we only have a vague idea what the language would actually have sounded like. Thus your generics would utter "phrases" such as "roggan", "wollolo", "ovuss", "yuri", "almouze", "aractus", "somus", wheregus" ...
Animal Crossing uses this, with the added bonus that it's created by using samples from FM synthesizers distorting the words in the text box. In the options, you can leave them speaking this "language" ("Animalese"), switch it to "Bebebese", which is the standard RPG blips, or just make it silent.
Each of the games also has its own varient on this synthesizer. The GameCube game uses a slower-paced synthesizer that's actually fairy comprehensible (your Gyroid assistant is almost understandable, as is mail-lady Pelly). The Wii game, City Folk/Let's Go to the City, uses a faster-paced one that scrambles the sounds more, so it sounds more Simlish-esque and is less understandable. New Leaf reads all English words as if it were Japanese romaji ("Hi" is pronounced "he"). But Wild World is pure gibberish.
Apparently, the Japanese versions of the games actually properly match the Japanese glyph to its sound, resulting in monotonous-sounding speech. This is possible because each Japanese kana glyph neatly maps to a sound, punctuation notwithstanding.
Sid Meiers Pirates: Hearing your crew sing sea-chanties in Pirate Simlish is pretty amusing.
There's also a slight variation between the accents of characters belonging to different nations. It's subtle, but you can tell when you're speaking to a Frenchman or a Spaniard just by listening to their Simlish.
Sacrifice creates incantations when spells are cast by stringing random Latin and pseudo-Latin words together.
Averted in Sid Meier's Civilization IV, in which units speak in their native language. (This required 18 sets of unit sounds, rising to 34 with the expansions.)
Or rather, their native language, or its modern equivalent, or (in some cases), what the people of that country speak now. This led to the amusing case of the Egyptians (who are supposed to represent Ancient Egypt) speaking Modern Egyptian Arabic, which is only distantly related to actual Egyptian. (Coptic is its direct descendant; however, very few people speak fluent Coptic these days, and most of them are monks and priests who have Arabic as their first language.)
The NPCs in Civilization Revolution speak Simlish. The leaders' Simlish actually sounds a great like their actual language. Bismarck speaks German-sounding gibberish, Caesar speaks faux-Latin, and so on. Alexander the Great sounds (and looks) like a Southern California surfer dude. The advisors speak in more of a generic Simlish.
The Science Advisor goes "Hooray, hooray, hooray!" though.
The Creatures series of computer games use a variation of this, with each typed word converted into a spoken Nornish word. There's actually a sort of mini-language in it when it's typed... but most of what you hear is, in fact, gibberish.
All spoken dialogue in Pikmin 2 (though the President and Olimar and Louie's spaceship are the only ones that say anything other than their own names) is in Simlish. Olimar and Louie's names are still intelligible when said, though.
Republic: The Revolution, despite ostensibly being a politics game (in reality, an involved version of Rock/Scissors/Paper) has all characters speaking a form of Simlish that still manages to sound Slavic.
The Movies uses it for all film dialogue, but its is repetitive to the point of annoyance. In post-production, it was possible to either remove it, subtitle it, or overdub it yourself, and the game would make a half-attempt to lip-sync the characters for you.
Worms 4. During Campaign Mode, all worms would talk Simlish. Actually, it's just a set of "Me!"'s. During battles, however, the worms' voices were defined by their team's speechbank. On a side note, there IS a speechbank that has them speak the "Me!"'s.
Ghost Master, with the exception of the word "artifacts" (in certain locations, "artifacts and weapons") coming up from time to time.
Polish dub (sic!) used nonsense Polish phrases instead. Apart from "Artifacts and weapons" mentioned above, there are some hysterically funny ones, like "Attack the beaver?!", "I eat a sneaker", a very affectionate "Move, bull!", "Shut ya clapper!" or "This is farce!".
The characters in Pikmin 3 all speak in vaguely Japanese-sounding gibberish, with a few recognizable words (character names, "Pikmin", "captain", "chip", their ship "Drake") appearing
The only dialogue players ever hear in No Man's Sky is electronic-sounding gibberish being broadcast through the onboard radio of their ship, with different intonations depending on where they happen to be.
Guitar Hero III hardly has any dialogue, but what dialogue there is is in simlish. Averted in the tutorials, where there is full, legible voice acting.
Guitar Hero II, however, had audible calls for an encore, and the final level has the crowd explicitly calling for Freebird.
Everyone who is dead in Killer7 speaks in an Engrish language with a computerized tone of voice. At some points in the game, you can tell what gibberish is supposed to mean what (In The Name of Harman...).
This is because in Japan, ghosts speak straight-up Engrish. For the English version, the voices were run through distortion filters.
While the cutscenes are fully voiced, in normal gameplay, the characters in Insecticide sound like this.
The inhabitants of the World of Goo cutscenes speak in Simlish, with captions overhead.
The Ace Attorney characters use the standard RPG blips mentioned above. In the fully voiced ad for "Rise From the Ashes", Maya and Phoenix mutter under their breath using these blips about Edgeworth's pink GBA, to which he indignantly shouts at them to stop it.
The adorable walking eyeballs in Patapon speak in vague-sounding syllables and sing the names of the drums you acquire over the course of the game as you play them.
The Patapon themselves speak in Japanese (for instance, if you make a mistake, they'll mutter "Kono yarou!" which means essentially "What an idiot!"), but it's hard to get the gist of it.
The series of three PC adventure games called Gobliiins is an interesting example. In close-ups of the characters and some cutscenes, real English is used, but until one of the characters or cutscenes translates it for the gamers, all that's heard is Simlish, or whatever weird language the Goblins speak.
Each character seems to have a vocabulary limited to one or two words, which are epeated over and over again in different intervals, or simply a couple of fixed syllables whose order is constantly rearranged. Examples include "Oyma toyma! Oy-ma! Ma toy!" and "Tobor. Tob-tobor tobor."
LittleBigPlanet has this for a lot of the voices you can assign to "Magic Mouths", the things used to generate speech bubbles. An example being the mad scientist voice.
The shopkeeper in An Untitled Story speaks in a language that can best be transcribed as "bleh blehbleh blaab blab."
In The League of Gentlemen, Papa Lazarou speaks to his "wife" in a foreign language. She later reveals that she has been kidnapped, and she has no idea what he is saying, and can only respond with gibberish. Papa Lazarou doesn't seem to notice.
Other characters have spoken complete gibberish at Papa Lazarou, and he can understand what they're trying to say.
Performer Andy Kaufman invented a comedy character called Foreign Man, from the island of Caspiar, who spoke in a gibberish of his own invention interspersed with broken English. Later, he evolved the character into Latka Gravas for the sitcom Taxi.
In The Court Jester, when Danny Kaye has to show his skill with languages, he recites strings of gibberish that manage to sound exactly like French, Italian and German.
In Modern Times, Chaplin's character forgets the lyrics to a song he's singing, so he simply makes up random gibberish to substitute. It's the only time that Chaplin's Tramp character speaks audibly, and Chaplin didn't want it to be limited to one language.
The Hudsucker Proxy: There's one instance where Norville claims to have studied Finnish and engages in a short discussion with a Mr. Finlandsson- not a single word of Finnish is actually spoken, but a rather Swedish-sounding string of nonsense, and the film plays this as if Barnes spoke something higly offensive to Mr. Finlandsson.
In Fite!, most of the speech bubbles are filled with made-up symbols. If you pay attention, there's more than one language of "Simlish" (Lucco's is more angular, while Guz's is more squiggly), and you can recognize a few symbols (like the characters' names).
All dialog spoken by the off-screen adults in any Peanuts cartoon sounds like a trombone with a mute.
In Family Guy, Peter Griffin grows a mustache and subsequently believes he can speak Italian because of it. However, he only produces a series of "beepity boppities" strung together like a child's attempt at a made-up language. The Italian butcher he "speaks" with is not amused.
In the Aladdin sequel Return of Jafar, Abis Mal ends up undergoing this trope when Jafar, in his genie form attempts to demand to return him to Agrabah at once (namely due to being intimidated by Jafar's genie form), thus forcing Jafar to assume his human form so Abis Mal could at least give a coherent response to his demand.
In his autobiography, Nobel-winning physicist and all-around oddball Richard Feynman relates his adventures speaking nonsense that sounded like Italian, including reading imaginary poetry at his daughter's school. This is actually one of the less-weird amusements he devised.
In Adventure Time episode "The Little People", the little people speak entirely in Simlish. Fittingly, the entire episode can be interpreted as a parody of The Sims.
The "lyrics" to all of Adiemus's music are all just pleasing vocal sounds that sound vaguely like some African language.
Similarly, most of the songs in Macross Plus are complete gibberish. It may or may not be the language of the alien Zentraedi people.
Dorothy Ann's book in The Magic School Bus Plays Ball reads something like "aokOGHKdpsop pipDhuPO pq sdohi phipi shjMcKlzn Gialok mvosl baseball powtk vmXbl Vkld KJ A Sshj".