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 Sims manual 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.
- Kingsley's Adventure has all the characters talking in nonsense babble.
- 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 GameCube game Chibi-Robo!
- Super Mario Sunshine, at least outside of cutscenes. Those had full voice acting.
- The Piantas in both Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 2 speak Simlish. It's fun to listen to.
- In Sunshine, when the Piantas yell at you for spraying water at them or jumping on them, you can sometimes hear them say a distorted "Mario!"
- Done in Ōkami. Though of course it's based around Japanese.
- The Cultists and Fanatics in Blood speak a made-up language based on Latin and Sanskrit. It even has its own dictionary. Complete with formal and colloquial distinction.
- 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).
- Zelda games have used Voice Grunting in console releases since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (except for a certain Fairy Companion), until The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess rolled around. That game introduced Midna, the first character in Zelda history to actually be fully voice acted...by speaking Simlish. All other characters still use the old Voice Grunting style. No CDI games are part of Zelda history, so don't bring them up.
- Unlike other examples, the lines she "speaks" are chosen at random from a pool so no specific text box goes with any specific line of simlish.
- Not exactly picked at random, since the sounds she makes in cutscenes always go with the same text box. However, the words and sounds don't match up in any meaningful way.
- Apparently at least some of Midna's dialogue is English scrambled up to make it sound like gibberish.
- It's worth noting, however, that Shad, in the same game, has a very brief instance of Speaking Simlish, during which he chants at a statue in the ancient Sky Language of the Oocca.
- Additionally, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker featured a few short lines in English from the Shop Guru.
- 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.
- Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure, with amusingly over-the-top British mannerisms.
- 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.
- Battlefield Heroes has the Royal and National soldier characters speaking in a few mangled words ("Hullo ! / Haloo !") and various grunts, all with a National Stereotypes Funetik Aksent
- 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.
- Any and all LEGO Adaptation Games. This is the standard whenever LEGO folks talk though.
- 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 characters in EYE Divine Cybermancy all speak Simlish. Looter voices sound vaguely Russian, but slurred because looters are perpetually drunk.
- 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.
- Partners in Time added the word "Babies" to their vocabulary.
- E. Gadd from Luigis Mansion brings over his own brand of Simlish to Superstar Saga and Partners in Time.
- While Galactic Basic was fully voiced, all other languages in both Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 were done this way. While it was extremely expressive, it was also often quite a bit too long winded.
- 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).
Simulation and Strategy
- 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.
- 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.
- LocoRocos sing cheerful nonsense to the level's background music.
- This goes back as far as a Trivial Pursuit game for Amstrad CPC, where a little character asked you the question in Simlish (and for those who found him annoying, he could be disabled).
- All residents of Chulip (except for the Silent Protagonist) speak vaguely Japanese-sounding Simlish.
- 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."
- Overlord Badman in Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! (and its sequels) speaks in randomly stringed syllables that vary with his mood.
- The Maestro in Wii Music speaks some kind of musical gibberish
- Prof. Elvin Gadd (and arguably Luigi) speak this way in Luigi's Mansion. Strangely averted with Mario:
"Hey! Luigi! What's the holdup?!"
Non-Video Game Examples
- Happy Tree Friends
- 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.
- The Adorable Evil Minions in Despicable Me speak in mostly gibberish.
- Charlie Chaplin's fake German in The Great Dictator.
- 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.
- The Swedish Chef, of The Muppet Show.
- As well as Beaker: "MEEMEEMEEP!"
- 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).
- Italian singer Adriano Celentano's song 1972 Prisencolinensinainciusol is written in gibberish intended to evoke what English sounds like to people who don't understand a word of it. It's also pretty damn catchy.
- 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.
- When the cast plays Foreign Film Dub on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Though sometimes this is averted.
- They Might Be Giants meets Nirvana Meets Speaking Simlish. Hilarity Ensued
- 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 "All 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".
- Puppycat in Bee and Puppycat is an Intelligible Unintelligible voiced by a Synthetic Voice Actor. Fortunately he comes with subtitles.
- Any dialogue in Oggy and the Cockroaches, seeing as it's mainly a Mime and Music-Only Cartoon. This also helps broadcast the series very easily in foreign countries.
- Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away: Most of the characters speak in Cirqish.
- Breezies in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic speak a Norwegian/Simlish hybrid. Fluttershy can understand them, though, and Seabreeze can speak Equestrian.
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Spamalot, the (Artists Formerly Known as the) Knights who say Ni speak in gibberish, except for their leader.
- In Filthy Frank any character who isn't speaking English is doing this. Or, in Safari Man's case, Japanese. Frank (presumably) provides captions for us to understand the others.
- In Qumi Qumi, this makes up the language of the tribes. They have their own words that parallel real-life ones for certain situations, and also pepper their speech with English at various times.
Kćǽzo fyỳ ma‘äuđu?
This is farce!