Q&A with Michael Beard, OG SNK Voice Actor

Fygee

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Hi folks. Looking for some questions from the community to pass along to Michael Beard, who is gracious enough to participate.

He was one of the original American VAs for SNK back in the early 90s who lent his voice to a good number of early titles (Fatal Fury 1/2/Special, Art of Fighting 1/2, Nam-1975, etc.), notably as the announcer for FF1 and FF2/FFS Krauser.


https://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/video-games/Fatal-Fury-Special
 
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Gremlin

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Neat! Did he do the NAM-1975 "ARRRRGGHHHH!" from the attract screen?

I guess besides an actual confirmed list of the games he's voiced in, since Neo Geo engrish has a very special place in my heart I'd be interested in knowing how much, if any leeway he was given in correcting any awkward non-native "engrish" lines that he was given - was he allowed to voice the lines as he interpreted them and have them make more sense, or did he have to stick to what was on the paper?
 

StaticX

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Guess the how did he get the position?
Did he voice Krauser in KOF96 also?
 

famicommander

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I originally read the title as Michael Buffer and was very confused.
 

Ajax

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No way...! A friend and I always joked that the Nam 1975 guy (also the Magician Lord and Cyber Lip guy?) was the janitor at the SNK office building. To this day, decades later, we still reference "the janitor." I guess the standard, "how did you get the job?" will do the trick, but if you could ask if he was a janitor at the SNK office building at any point, it would mean a lot to us.
 

Neo Alec

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Neat! Did he do the NAM-1975 "ARRRRGGHHHH!" from the attract screen?
I posited in my Nam 1975 video that the yell was ripped from Full Metal Jacket, just like many of the graphics.

This is quite the unique opportunity. I need to think of something good to ask.
 

Mr. Karate II

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Will you be meeting him in person or communicating through the internet?
 

Burning Fight!!

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I just want to see what the guy looks like. Is his name really Michael Beard? Did he do any other voiceover work outside of SNK (in gaming or otherwise) or was he just some Intl Relations guy that had to help with voices every once in a while? Did he have any contact with the other localization "offices" for ie. Portuguese audio?

This is awesome, keep us posted. I've always been interesting in early video game voices and just the mention of a possible interview has made my day. My holy grail neo-geo wise would be to know who did the Super Sidekicks 3 narrator voices in the Brazil dipswitch setting, but that's such a long shot :timid:
 
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Fygee

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Will you be meeting him in person or communicating through the internet?
Internet. He still resides in Japan, so it'd be a far trip for me. Lol.

I just want to see what the guy looks like. Is his name really Michael Beard? Did he do any other voiceover work outside of SNK (in gaming or otherwise) or was he just some Intl Relations guy that had to help with voices every once in a while? Did he have any contact with the other localization "offices" for ie. Portuguese audio?

This is awesome, keep us posted. I've always been interesting in early video game voices and just the mention of a possible interview has made my day. My holy grail neo-geo wise would be to know who did the Super Sidekicks 3 narrator voices in the Brazil dipswitch setting, but that's such a long shot :timid:

There's an older picture of him in one of the links I posted above. If he's up for sharing a modern picture, I'll pass it along. He's got plenty on his social media, but I don't want to post them here without his say-so.

And yes, his name is actually Michael Beard. Not a pseudonym.
 

NeoCverA

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Holy shit - ive often wondered about that cat - I think I even started a thread years ago asking if anyone has ever seen him, etc.
 

NeoCverA

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Internet. He still resides in Japan, so it'd be a far trip for me. Lol.



There's an older picture of him in one of the links I posted above. If he's up for sharing a modern picture, I'll pass it along. He's got plenty on his social media, but I don't want to post them here without his say-so.

And yes, his name is actually Michael Beard. Not a pseudonym.
You only posted ONE LINK above - and that doesn't have any pictures of him.
 

NeoCverA

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is he going to vocally answer the questions or type them up?
 

sirlynxalot

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Did he do other non-voice actor work for SNK (or other companies at the time), or did he make a career out of being a western voice actor in Japan (which seems difficult)?

How did he wind up in Japan in the early 90s anyway? Must have had an unusual connection to be there that long, especially in the early 90s, before Americans would have enough exposure to Japanese media to become anime or video game otakus and want to go to Japan for those reasons.
 

Mr. Karate II

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Internet. He still resides in Japan, so it'd be a far trip for me. Lol.
The question I'm about to ask you could influence all the interview I'm preparing for him: so, I would like to know if during his working period with the NEOGEO, he has worked with the SNK Japan in Osaka or with the SNK USA of the California?
 
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Burning Fight!!

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Did he do other non-voice actor work for SNK (or other companies at the time), or did he make a career out of being a western voice actor in Japan (which seems difficult)?
How to become western actor (including voice) in japan:
1. be american
2. have visa
3. contact Inagawa Motoko or any other talent agencies that offer cheap gaijin labor

not too difficult :timid:

--
Damn if that's him then I think he's too easily found nowadays, lol. Curiosity satisfied. I know he's going to type it all out but try asking him to redo some of his lines... this would've been easier in person but you can edit a short video with his voice highlights for him to reproduce.
 

#28

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Hope I’m not too late.

Until recently I had assumed Michael Beard was some kind of baseball announcer (maybe in the minors or something) since he’s perfect for it in Baseball Stars 2 and he namedrops himself with every game. If he was “just” a voice actor in Japan, does he have any particular insight into why it was that “this is Michael Beard” was part of his script for the game?
 

Mr. Karate II

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I would like to thank Fygee in advance for giving us this chance and I would like to inform you that after days of work I have finally completed the interview, which we Neo-Geo.com users will do with Mr. Beard.

In the last part I also the included questions from the audience that did not find a place within the interview.

I also asked of the audio recordings: if you want them too, try proposing specific phrases to Mr. Beard, because it's been over 30 years and it would also be natural if he didn't remember anything of his past works.

To make life easier for Fygee (but also for readers), I've divided all the questions into 5 chapters.

If anyone feels like expanding on any topics or adding new ones, them pubblish it in the comments and we'll see if we can merge it all into one and only text.
 
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Mr. Karate II

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Title:
Interview with Michael Beard, The first historical narrator of the NEOGEO.

Chapter 1, Presentations:

Hi Mr. Beard, the entire SNK fan community thanks you in advance for granting us this interview.

[Note to Fygee: Before proceeding to the next response let him comment on this declaration].


Despite the great contribution you made to the early years of life of the NEOGEO, even today absolutely nothing is known about you. Could you introduce yourself and tell us when and where you were born?

Micheal Beard is your real name?

What was your educational background? And how did you decide to become a voice actor?

What are your hobbies?

I didn't expect that, but I heard that currently you reside in Japan: during your working period with the NEOGEO, did you work closely with the SNK Japan of Osaka or with the SNK USA of the California?


Chapter 2, His personal relationship with SNK:

Before entering the NEOGEO ecosystem, what were your previous work experiences? Were you already familiar with SNK and the world of the videogames?

Why did you decide to work specifically for SNK at that time? Were you given any kind of preliminary examination to test your skills as a voice actor?

Did your contract see you in the role of freelancer or had you been hired within this company? Also, were you assigned other duties besides voice acting? And what would you have done if SNK had not hired you?

How many hours and how was your typical working day structured and where did the dubbing sessions take place? But above all who was managing them and on what physical support were the recordings made?

How many people were on the staff of SNK Japan, SNK USA and all the other distributors of this company around the world? Do you know of the sales data related to this company?


Chapter 2.5, Variant A, SNK USA Version:
[Note to Fygee: these questions are to be asked if previously he said has worked directly with SNK USA].


Have you ever dealt with the SNK Japan staff members?

SNK USA's headquarters was located in the city of Sunnyvale in California. Were you comfortable working at this location? Was this area very far from your home?

Speaking of the SNK USA, have you ever met people like Bruce M. Tomiyama (vice president), Heh-Kyu Lee (product manager), Chad Okada/Game Lord (Tech-Support) and Tony Gonzales (technician)? And what was the name of the president of that period?

Have you ever seen Mr. Tomiyama's Mercedes Benz S600 W140 V12 with 'NEOGEO1' written on the license plate? (Also the Hyundai of Mr. Okada was particular, because behind it was written 'GAMLORD').

Have you ever seen other cars with this particular type of license plate?

What was the precise policy that SNK Japan had towards of the designed games from its foreign distributors? I know that they translated the developers manual into English and that they also collaborated with Korean distributor Viccom to create 'Fight Fever'.


Chapter 2.5, Variant B, SNK JAPAN Version:
[Note to Fygee: these questions are to be asked if previously he said has worked directly with SNK JAPAN].


SNK's original neighborhood is still located in the city of Osaka. Were you comfortable working in a place so far away from where you were born?

As a foreigner what have been the toughest challenges you've faced and what have been your greatest satisfactions?

Was SNK's headquarters very far from your home at the time? And what means did you use to get there?

What kind of company was it and what an atmosphere you breathed inside of SNK Japan?

Through the testimony of an internal developer, I heard that the employees of that period stayed overnight in the company, but despite that they slept only 4 hours a day and above all they could return home only on Sunday [a very common situation for Japanese companies of that time]. Is this a true story? Have you ever experienced such a situation?

What was the relationship that SNK had with the other companies? And did you feel that there was any rivalry with Capcom or other companies of this type specialized in the sector?

The SNK's success and history has been a merit shared by many people, but did you ever meet such prominent figures as president ('Big Boss') Eikichi Kawasaki, the development chief Takashi Nishiyama (Piston Takashi) or the developer Hiroshi Matsumoto (Finish Hiroshi)? If yes, what kind of people were they? And above all do you have any personal anecdotes to tell us about them?

During the time you have been working for this company have you ever met illustrators like Shinkiro or Eiji Shiroi? How would you define their personalities? And above all what do you think of their works?

The SNK character voice actors and the SNK Sound Team they were elements really beloved elements of the fans. Have you ever worked closely with any of them?

Have you ever been in a NEOGEO LAND? What was the situation like inside? And why couldn't you take pictures or videos once entered? Were these arcades managed internally by SNK? So did all the earnings go directly to this company or were they spread out through other people and societies? The NEOGEO LANDs existed outside of Osaka as well, but have you ever been to these outside versions as well?

In Japan the industry magazines, merchandising and special events of that period were really something special and relevant: SNK characters (through their voice actors) they also held of the radio broadcasts.

How did it feel to experience firsthand all this enthusiasm from the people of those years? This thing made a good impression on you or was it always completely indifferent to you? We Western consumers have lost almost everything about this very special experience, didn't it?

In California, the vice president of SNK USA (Bruce Tomiyama) had a Mercedes Benz S600 W140 V12 with 'NEOGEO1' on the license plate (also the Hyundai of the Tech-Support Mr. Okada was particular, because behind it was written 'GAMLORD'). Were you aware of this? And while you were working in Osaka did you ever happen to see any cars with these kind of plates?

What was the precise policy that SNK Japan had towards of the designed games from its foreign distributors? I know that they translated the developers manual into English and that they also collaborated with Korean distributor Viccom to create 'Fight Fever'.


Chapter 2 and ¾, Universal restoration and one-way continuation of the interview:

Have you ever made a personal connection with any of your colleagues where then you have remained in contact with over a long period of time?

To date has there survived any images, videos, or recordings from your time working at SNK that you could do us the favor of sharing?

Chapter 3, Journey Inside of the NEOGEO World [I'm not talking about the amusement park of the same name, but about the actual console]:

Contrary to what was thought many years ago, the MVS and AES versions of the NEOGEO had a simultaneous commercial release, but then SNK decided to make the AES public because of the popularity it gained with consumers: however, this only happened in Japan, while in the USA and Europe what really happened?

I'm asking you this because through an almost completely accidental finding, I discovered that the NEOGEO AES in the USA was already sellable to the public well before the summer of 1991.

What were the first NEOGEO games that you dubbed?


[Note to Fygee: If he respond with 'Baseball Stars Professional' include this piece as well] Then Your debut with SNK has corresponded perfectly with the first market launch of the NEOGEO, which took place exactly as of April 26, 1990, that was composed by an starter pack of four titles ('Nam-1975', 'Baseball Stars Professional', 'Mahjong Kyo Retsuden' and 'Magician Lord').

Speaking of 'Baseball Stars Professional', but in the credits who was the person who had signed himself as '
BATMAN'?

Regarding 'Baseball Stars Professional 2', in the Exciting League there is a team called as 'Napoli Angels': is this a reference to the city where the Italian distributor of SNK of that period was located? (I'm talking about the Gevin company in Naples).

Are there other teams in this series that have this kind of link to reality? Also, did you know that in the latest marketed versions of this game, the references to Taiwan and its capital Taipei have been completely removed from the game? [https://www.polygon.com/2020/8/31/21409302/baseball-stars-2-censorship-china-taiwan-ps4-pc-hamster-snk#:~:text=Changes to the console port,Taipei in a recent update].

Although in the first period of NEOGEO your voice was almost always present as narrator, referee and sometimes even as the characters themselves, why apart from the credits of the first chapter of 'Fatal Fury', your name and that of the other voice actors of your colleagues has never officially appeared in the final credits of the game?


[Note to Fygee: whatever he answers attach anyway this piece] I don't know if it's any consolation to you, but I can tell you that your name was officially recorded within the credits of some Japanese soundtracks regarding 'Fatal Fury' and 'Art of Fighting', which SNK sold on Japanese soil during that period.

[Continued on next page due to character limit].
 
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