How Queen Latifah Became a Last-Minute Addition to Sayonara Wild Hearts

How Queen Latifah Became a Last-Minute Addition to Sayonara Wild Hearts

Developer Simogo tells us how one off-handed suggestion landed them a major celeb.

If you've completed Sayonara Wild Hearts, the new fast paced and frenetic rhythm-action game, you might have seen a rather iconic name pop up at the very end of the game. That's right: actress, rapper, legend Queen Latifah narrated Sayonara Wild Hearts. There's a sentence I didn't see myself typing when I woke up this morning.

I reached out to developer Simogo to see how the collaboration between the Swedish studio and Queen Latifah came about. "So, we had submitted the game to QA/testing, and I chat with Nathan (Gary) from Annapurna," Simogo co-founder Simon Flesser tells me over email.

"The story text bits somehow come up, and I mention that it was a shame that we never had the time to explore doing spoken narration for those bits. I say something like that 'it would have been fun to have someone unexpected to do those bits,'" Flesser writes. "So Nathan asks me who I would imagine. I think I had come home after having a beer with a friend, and was feeling somewhat jestful, and I just say 'Queen Latifah!' of course not meaning it very seriously at all; imagining that it would be so far out of reach.

"So, I think like two weeks pass and I get a message from Annapurna to jump on Skype, and they tell me that 'Queen Latifah will be able to record tomorrow.' So her narration bits came in just some weeks ago," Flesser concludes.

Queen Latifa's smooth vocals herald the introduction of the protagonist in Sayonara Wild Hearts, which plays as a kind of psychedelic music video. At the end of every level (of which there are only a handful), you hear Queen Latifah announcing the rank you attained, based on your accumulated score. In the somewhat ambiguous story, you play an unnamed girl fighting to recover powerful arcana, in the aftermath of a heartbreak.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is available now on PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and the newly launched Apple Arcade. In her review for USgamer, Nadia wrote of Sayonara Wild Hearts, "Sayonara Wild Hearts is a wild ride that's a treat for people who feel very strongly about immersing themselves in fantastic video game music, e.g. me." She praised its unique style, but also noted that it's rather short.

It's insane to think that, as of a few weeks ago, Sayonara Wild Hearts didn't have a narrator, let alone Queen Latifah (who hasn't appeared in a video game since her debut in Rap Jam: Volume One on the SNES in 1995) on board. Turns out this plucky Hail Mary from Flesser ended up coming through.

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Hirun Cryer

Guides Writer

Hirun Cryer is by far the most juvenile member of USgamer. He's so juvenile, that this is his first full-time job in the industry, unlike literally every other person featured on this page. He's written for The Guardian, Paste Magazine, and Kotaku, and he likes waking up when the sun rises and roaming the nearby woods with the bears and the wolves.

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