Evening folks, we watched Nintendo's E3 conference and came out rather unamused. There was no mention of a new Starfox title. This doesn't mean that it won't happen, maybe we'll see something tomorrow, but do not get your hopes up at this time. On a somewhat related note, Nintendo did show off a game called Nintendo Land, basically a Mario Party-esque game that involves using your Mii's to traverse 12 different theme park levels based around Nintendo franchises. 5 were revealed, the others are being kept secret. However, analyzing the title scene in the trailer we found something a bit odd:
What appears to be a possible shape of an Arwing is in one of the 12 blocks representing the theme parks. Does this mean a Starfox based level will show up in Nintendo Land? Maybe. It could also be an F-Zero racer, but it looks more like an Arwing to me personally.
We'll report on anything else that may be Starfox related during E3.
It seems like our week of Fox Madness continues! You've read all our interviews with all the other voice actors for Fox McCloud, but you were probably left wondering where the interview for the Starfox Assault Fox lurked? I mean, we didn't make any mention of it nor did we hint at whether or not it existed. Well, it does and it's here! Jim Walker not only did the voice for Fox McCloud in Starfox Assault, but he also came back to voice him again in everybody's beloved game Super Smash Bros. Brawl! Starfox fan or not, in some way or another every Nintendo fan has heard his voice, and it's only natural to be curious about the face behind the voice. Without further ado, we present to you all our interview with Jim Walker!
Q: How did you get into voice acting?
I grew up in LA and had a band. To pay the rent, I was throwing 500 copies a day of the LA Times from my ancient 1976 Chevy van. That sucked. Absolutely hated it. Hated my life, in fact. I worked from roughly 2am till 7am every day. Not good hours for me. My friend, Rick Marotta, was doing session work, playing drums for tv and radio commercials. He told a few people in the ad music world about me, and that I could sing. One day I got a call from an ad music person who said he was in a bind, and needed someone with a voice like Mike Patton from Faith No More. He asked if I could do it. I said YES (total lie). I went down, did the session, didn't really sound like Mike Patton but no one seemed bothered, and got on well with the ad music guys. That's important!
Forgive the tangent, but getting along with people (even if you don't particularly like them) is a skill like anything else, and something that everyone should strive to have in the toolbox. I mean, if you were a producer, who would you rather be in a room with; A great voice-person who's friendly, seems happy to be there, thankful for the gig, and is prepared and focused?
Or: A great voice-person who's weird and quiet, distracted, keeps checking the time, and hasn't spent anytime preparing? Who would you hire again? Yeah. But you'd be surprised how many people out there are in the latter category.
Anyway, after that first call, I started getting calls regularly which was fantastic. I quit my paper boy job. One of the ad music guys knew I did voices and recommended me for voice-acting job. It was for something that Ringling Brothers was putting on called Aladdin On Ice. Sounded kinda cheesy to me, but I got the gig. It ended up being a blast! I was hired as a sort of utility voice, meaning any small parts they hadn't cast yet, they threw at me. All the original voice actors (including Robin Williams) rerecorded their original parts for this show. I got to be a fruit seller in the marketplace one moment, then I was a peasant hollering something, some guy in the palace, and so on.
A few months later the same company was putting on a thing called George Lucas On Ice. They wanted me for that too. Same kind of thing, small parts. But this time, I was thrown in the iso booth with some of LA's top voice artists. Five of us crammed into this booth. I was scared to death. When it came time to record the voice for Indiana Jones, the guy who was supposed to do it admitted that he hadn't done his homework and his Indy wasn't too good. The producer asked if anyone else could do it. Everyone shook their heads. So I figured, what the heck. I said, I'd take a shot at it. They were happy with it, lucky me. That day, I ended up voicing a bunch of characters for the show; C3P0, Chewbacca, a bunch of villains. It was great.
Life went on like that for awhile, but as nice as it was to be a working voice guy, I just couldn't take LA anymore. I'd lived there my whole life and wanted to get away, and see something else. I ended up moving to Portland, OR. That was the best move I've ever made. I found my soul city. I got an agent up here, and I've been working ever since.
Q: How did you land the job as Fox McCloud?
I received the audition via email from my agent (I'm with In Both Ears here in Portland). It was for a videogame called Starfox and there were multiple roles that needed auditioning. I'd then send my audition mp3s back for scrutiny. There were about 17 roles to audition as I recall. I spent the entire afternoon coming up with character voices for all of these roles, really working hard, trying to be as creative as I could. The very last role of the batch was for Fox McCloud. I figured, oh that's the lead, so I'm sure I won't get that because they'll get someone with a recognizable name to do it. So I just voiced it in my regular speaking voice. I didn't do a character at all. My agent called a couple days later and told me I got it. Go figure.
Q: Were you aware of what Starfox was prior to lending your voice talents in Starfox Assault?
Nope, never heard of it.
Q: When voicing Fox, did you go off of what previous voice actors established or did you do your own thing? Was there a particular approach to his voice that was requested of you?
No, I'd never heard the other actors performances (still haven't actually). The audio was recorded up in Seattle. The date was close to my wife and my anniversary, so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of the job. I have friends up there, and my wife's mother and sisters live there, so while I was recording she was hanging with her family. Then we'd hang with my friends at night. The second day of recording I had a hell of a hangover.
What I remember most about the sessions for Starfox was this; Nintendo is a Japanese company, so they'd flown out a Japanese producer for the sessions. He didn't speak a lick of English so they had a guy from Nintendo America there to translate. I met the Nintendo guys, then went into the booth. When I would finish a line, I'd look through the glass to see what everybody thought. If the Japanese producer liked it, he would put his thumbs up. If he wanted me to try something else, he told the translator. After deliberation, the new direction was almost always, "More intensity..." It was exactly like Bill Murray at the commercial in LOST IN TRANSLATION. The producer couldn't understand the words I was saying (he was trusting the translator to make sure that end was held up), but he was looking for a certain spirit, an attitude. Other than - more intensity - I wasn't given too much direction. Also, I went to Barnes and Noble, and looked up in a Japanese/English dictionary how to say "Good afternoon, how are you?" in Japanese. Shocked the hell out of the guy the next day! In a good way.
Q: Do you find any similarities between yourself and Fox McCloud?
Fox is a good man in a tight corner. If I strive to be anything, it's to be someone you can count on when the chips are down.
Q: Were there any lines in Starfox Assault that you particularly liked or even hated?
It's so long ago I can't recall specific dialogue. My favorite part of the entire session was the last half an hour of the last day when I got to do all the death and pain screams. It was a half hour of getting in touch with everything primal in me, everything stem brain, and just letting it out, screaming, screaming, screaming, again and again in a banshee shriek from hell. Made me very calm after.
Q: Were there any lines or dialogue that were cut from the final game that you know of or remember?
Here's something you probably don't want to hear. I've never played any of the Starfox games so I have no idea how it all came out. I've seen little clips on YouTube, but that's about it. I didn't have the right gaming system when Assault finally came out, so I never got around to it.
Q: You did the voice for Fox yet again in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. What was it like coming back to do his voice again?
Since it was my real voice, I'd say it was a snap!
Q: You are also credited as doing the voice for Leon Powalski, psychopathic chameleon of the universe, in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. What was it like voicing such an off-the-wall character?
They asked me to do Leon at the end of the first day of recording. I didn't know I was doing it till then. They described the character to me, I opened up my yap and that's what came out. I try not to over think things too much. A record producer friend of mine has a motto - First Thought, Best Thought. It's not always true 100 percent of the time, but I'd say 95 percent of the time it is. It's trusting your gut, and just doing whatever your instincts tell you to do.
Q: Who did you enjoy voicing more? Fox or Leon?
Fox. Leon only took 20 minutes or so, so I don't remember much of it.
Q: So, who is your favorite Starfox character? It's only standard that we ask!
Fox McCloud, of course.
Q: If you could come back to do the voice of Fox McCloud (or maybe another character) in say, some future Starfox title, would you?
In a heartbeat. It was a great experience.
Q: You are another of many talented voice actors who have lended your talents to the legendary Starfox franchise, and are forever a part of it. Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
Thanks so much to everybody who's enjoyed the games over the years. Much appreciated! And as far as any of my personal philosophy goes I'd like to say to everyone out there: Bring a book, because there's always a line.
Yet another fantastic interview by another great voice actor! On behalf of the entire Starfox fanbase, we thank you Jim for contributing to the series we all know and love and hope to hear you again in the future! This concludes all the English voice actors for Fox McCloud to date!
We'll continue to update as the week progresses, between interviews and E3 it will be a busy time. Lets hope we see or hear of some Starfox related news during Nintendo's conference!
Reporting on that rumor I had posted about before concerning a potential crossover between Starfox and Metroid, the same source that had suggested it could be making an appearance at this year's E3 have now stated that there is no truth to the rumor and that the game is definitley not happening, at least not yet. The Paul Gale Network (the site this rumor stemmed from) has said that the idea was pitched around the same time as Pok'emon + Nobunaga's AMbition and other crossover games, so it could see a possibility of coming to light in the future, but as of right now the game does not exist and we have yet to see what it is Retro Studios have been working on lately. This may be a relief to some and a severe disapointment to others, but don't fret Starfox fans. We'll keep marching on until that next true sequel.
Remember that game called Starfox 64 that came out some time ago? What about Starfox 64 3DS that came out just last year? Oh, of course you remember! They were only some of the best Starfox games to date, I mean what kind of Starfox fan would you be if you hadn't played these games? What if we told you that we had an interview with Mike West, the voice actor for Fox McCloud in both games? Would you believe us? You should, because we do! Mike has lended his voice talents to a plethora of voice related jobs, from radio to TV, all the way to video games, and that's where Starfox comes in. Without anymore delay, we present to you, the fans, the StarFox Elite interview with Mike West, Fox McCloud himself!
Q: How did you get into voice acting?
When I was a kid, I used to do crazy voices and sound effects. My brother had a reel to reel tape recorder that I "Borrowed!" I would do fake radio shows and dumb noises. I could never figure out why my friends didn't want to spend hours with the tape recorder like I did. Most of them went on to be doctors and firemen and stuff. Now I understand!
Q: You told us via Twitter that you enjoyed doing voices for video games. To date, which video game did you enjoy acting for the most?
I would have to say Starfox is the one I enjoyed most, because it ended up being the most popular and legendary games. I never hear from people like you about the other games over the years. I can't believe how much interest fans of the game have. I guess that says a lot for the developers, code writers and artists.
Q: Prior to working on Starfox 64, were you aware of what Starfox was?
No. I had no idea. I just remember getting a call and asking if I could show up in Redmond Washington at a building on the Nintendo campus. I walked into a room with about 10 people sitting in a circle. They handed me a script and asked me to read for the various charcators. I was pretty happy to get a call back with word that I got a few voices for an upcoming game!
Q: What was your reaction to Starfox 64 selling over 300,000 copies inthe first week of release (in the US) back in 1997? (For readers, that broke the record of both Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64)
I didn't know that! I just remember getting a game delivered from Nintendo saying thanks. I didn't even own a console at the time. Our kids were delighted when I came home from the store with a box so they could play the game that dad voiced. I also recall getting called into the studio for various commercials and pro-mo spots that I guess they used all over the world. I never saw them!
Q: What was it like coming back to do Starfox 64 3D?
I thought it was hilarious that they called us back. I had heard rumors about the game being brought back. I was a little worried that I couldn't hit the high notes of some of the charcators. I am a lot older, but Starfox hasn't aged at all!
Q: Compared to your performance in the original Starfox 64, how do you think you did in Starfox 64 3D? Which was a more enjoyable experience?
I guess the first experience was the most enjoyable, just because I didn't know what to expect. But coming back a little older and wiser and knowing that I had the job the second time around was pretty rewarding too.
Q: Did you record alongside the other voice actors or were you alone?
No. You go into a booth. On the other side of the glass are the engineer, producer, director and an assortment of other people who made sure we were matching up the first game. So just me and a microphone and my original reads in my headphones so I made sure to match everything.
Q: Some lines in the game were ever so slightly altered. Do you have any idea as to why?
I wondered about that too. But I never got an answer. I could do a little digging and find the producer and get back to you on that one!
Q: What determined how Fox McCloud would sound?
I guess I did. They showed me a storyboard and asked me to figure out what Fox would sound like. I remember giving them a bunch of different ideas. They wanted young, hip and energy as I recall. I don't know about the young hip part, but he does have a lot of energy!
Q: You also did the voice for James McCloud, father to Fox McCloud. Compared to Fox, how much easier or more difficult was it voicing James?
I guess I was trying for someone who could be related to that little fox, but more mature and serious. Did I accomplish that? Hope so!
Q: Some fans refer to you as the true voice of Fox McCloud having voiced him in what is considered the greatest Starfox game(s) since the original. How does this make you feel?
Pretty special and honored. You never know how the project will turn out, or if it even gets released. Sometimes that happens. You get paid, but you want to see what the experts do with your voice. I am totally blown away by how many people know of the game and when I say I was lucky enough to work on it, the reactions from people young and old is fantastic.
Q: It's only natural that we ask who your favorite Starfox character is?
I think Fox is pretty cool. Young, brash, kind, responsible and at times funny. I guess I like to think of myself like that when I was young like you guys!
Q: Are there any plans of you coming back to the series for a possible future Starfox game? Or is this one of those questions you can't answer, even if you knew?
I would tell you if I knew. I would love to do more. I am waiting for the call! Make it happen for me SFE! You have connections don't you?
Q: If the opportunity were offered, would you be willing to voice Fox McCloud ever again?
In a nano second!
Q: You are forever part of the franchise we all know and love. Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
Well, when I saw your forum online after someone that was a fan sent me to, a lot of people though I was a fake. It was then I knew how big and important and personal this game was for so many people. I just wanted to pop in and say hi to all of you and it turned into a major controversy on your forum. Very funny! I would also like to say how talented the people behind the scenes are that make these games. It's amazing how many people it takes to make a game like Starfox. I want to thank you for tracking me down. If you ever want me to record a line or two as Starfox, I would be thrilled. If you ever need anything, just shoot me an email. I also want to mention that I was a radio announcer from the age of 17, until 5 years ago. I worked mostly in Seattle with a stop in Los Angeles. I am retired from full time radio, but I host a Sunday show called Breakfast With The Beatles. It's the highest rated radio show in Seattle. I do freelance voice work for everyone from Microsoft, to Nintendo to Apple. I am also an auto journalist for CBS. You can see my car reviews on the CBS local sites. Just click the auto section and take a look. Our son is a musician. He recently played on the Jimmy Fallon show. His music is actually on a lot of TV shows, movies commercials and video games. His band is called Telekinesis. My son is Michael Lerner. My real last name is Lerner! Our daughter works for a record label and her husband is the road tech for a band called Death Cab For Cutie. They are touring Europe as we speak, or write. I have been married for 31 years. My wife and I have known each other since the 7th grade.
I am a pretty lucky person.
Great interview Mike! We would like to make it known that the forum he is referring to is actually Starfox-Online, another dedicated Starfox website, as we have not had one [yet]. And we wish we had connections, we really do! We thank you Mike for taking the time to do this interview with us and shall be viewable to all for many generations to come. And, to end this, we'll post an unedited pic of the picture he sent us!
The Hyperkin SupaBoy is an SNES duplicate system that allows gamers to play their favorite SNES games on-the-go. Releasing last year, this system is often overlooked or not even known about. A shame, for the system really has what it takes to be in anyone's shopping cart. wishlist, and/or shelves. Why is it that a Starfox fan site is reviewing such a thing? Obviously it's because the number one question always pops up about any third party SNES duplicate: Can it play Starfox?
As any Starfox fan will tell you, the original Starfox required the use of the Super FX chip to run properly, something that just about any third party's hardware can't seem to get right. Often you get mixed opinions on the matter. "It runs fine" or "It runs for about two minutes before crashing" or straight up "it does not support Starfox". Seeing these responses clumped together anywhere can be offputting. Unfortunately, the SupaBoy has fallen victim to this. Hopefully we can shed light on the matter and disperse any false acusations towards the system or convince people on the fence about it to invest.
That's right. Invest. Hyperkin's SupaBoy does play Starfox.
You can play as your favorite furry pilot anywhere, anytime, on the 3.5" LCD screen. If that's not enough for you, if you're the sit-at-home kind of person who enjoys gaming on the TV, not a problem.
The system comes with an AV cable that allows hook-up to any TV that will allow it virtually replicating the original SNES. It only gets better! The SupaBoy has two controller ports on each side of it that allow you to connect original SNES controllers for play (up to 2 players) for retro veterans who refuse to play their games on any other controller.
It should be pointed out that the system's sound is rather poor, as in quiet. Unless you're in a secluded spot to yourself with minimal noise don't count on being able to hear much. It's quite possibly the only downfall the system has, and it's easily fixable with a pair of headphones that can be plugged into the headphone jack.
The system itself is a little bulky, however don't be fooled. It is very lightweight allowing for easy game playing. The SupaBoy is designed to look like an original SNES controller, and as such the button orientation should immedietely be familiar to SNES veterans. Unfortunately the SupaBoy we got our hands on has a manufacturing error in which the button labels for A,B, X, and Y are flipped upside down. This is not a problem though it does get annoying to look at, however this may be a rare case and may not apply to any other SupaBoy consoles.
The SupaBoy runs off a single battery pack that requires charging roughly around every 2-3 hours (Hyperkin has claimed 5.5 hours but our results have found otherwise) and charges by plugging the system into an outlet which can still be played during charge.
You will not ever have to worry about the game cartridge falling out as it includes a lock feature that keeps the game cartridges firmly in place.
The system typically runs for $80, however can be found for as little as $60 depending on where or how you go about finding it. It's a definite buy for anyone needing to replace (or find a replacement for) their SNES, Starfox fans especially.