"Looks like the YouTube hacks are at it again..."
August 7, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

An anonymous source claiming to be an Acclaim employee has revealed the existence of a previously unknown prototype board of the SNES edition of NBA Jam. Never meant to see the light of day, this prototype features game announcer Tim Kitzrow replacing his well-known phrases with some more colorful commentary (NSFW). Is it real? Kitzrow says no, but then this isn't first time something like this has happened. posted by griphus (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This reminds me of Arch Rivals on the NES, the best basketball video game ever made.
posted by pwally at 7:48 AM on August 7, 2012

One of the big differences between the Wave Race GameCube easter egg (and the Tiger Woods easter egg) is that back in the SNES days it was not trivial to just add random voices to a game. There wasn't a standard filesystem like there is today, any voice data had to be squeezed into the already cramped space in the ROM memory of the game cartridge. Only a few games from the 16-bit era had recorded voices at all, and the SNES port of NBA Jam probably only had commentary because the original arcade version did (which had much better memory and sound hardware). Also given that Nintendo was still in crazy censorship mode during that era (Mortal Combat, a contemporary game to NBA Jam from Midway, was famously released on the SNES without blood), it's incredibly unlikely that Midway would have ever considered actually releasing profanity-filled commentary as a hidden option. Even without Kitzrow's confirmation that it's fake, it would be extremely unlikely that something like this would exist.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:03 AM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, that is a pretty important point (and a lot more relevant than whatever Kirtzrow has to say.) The weird thing is there's a number of high-profile emulation community people linking to the article and the video, and they know from simple ROM hacks better than just about anyone. Whatever this thing ends up being, it's something special.
posted by griphus at 8:09 AM on August 7, 2012

Grabs his Johnson!

("this prototype" is the link you want to start with.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on August 7, 2012

There was something similar to this with Mortal Kombat 2. Sometimes you would uppercut a guy and Dan Forden would pop out in the corner and yell "VAGINA!"
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2012

Sorry for the argument from authority here, but take it from a guy who has been cramming improbably numerous kilobytes of audio into games, including voiceover, since the Game Boy Color (which is far more limited than the SNES) and the GBA (which was roughly on par). I'm familiar with both common and in-house SNES audio tools, though I didn't ship any titles on the SNES. This is 100% plausible and I'd bet good money that it's real.

burnmp3s, you're right that it wasn't trivial to ADD voice where there was none before (or stick it in on top of the existing data), but it's not like they didn't have a content pipeline; once the sound calls were placed in code, replacing existing assets was seriously not a big deal, as long as they were edited for size and put in the right place. The profane clips here replace 5 or 6 of the real ones, 1:1, so technically it's not that bad.

I'm not willing to tell you some of the things I've heard some seriously famous people say in a VO booth, but Tim Kitzrow is pretty obviously lying / saving face / mis-remembering / I Have No Recollection of These Events. Every game that has VO ends up with tons of joke clips, cursing, alternate takes, etc. I've only seen a couple voice actors who were "strictly business", and they were definitely not guys like Tim who got their start in improv comedy. I bet those clips weren't even the worst ones.

I've been at the office until 6 in the morning three times in the past week, trying to polish up the VO and sound effects in a new Double Dragon game. (!!!) Some of the best moments I've ever had at work have come in those sleep-deprived, Del Taco-fuelled morning hours where the entire team is delirious, and the director starts cackling, rips off his headphones, and turns to me like "dude we have to pull that line, the ESRB will shit bricks if this boss yells 'Rising Boner!'" and I respond like "WHATEVER, FUN POLICE!!".

It's clear that there was never any intention of keeping these sounds as an actual easter egg hidden in the retail game -- in fact, the writeup says that they were terrified of even the joke ROM getting out, because it could have damaged the NBA's relationship with Acclaim, and the last thing a work-for-hire developer wants to do is piss off the publisher who is giving them work. So it was purely an internal gag, done by one or two people, just to break up the monotony / stress of crunching on a game for months. This stuff happened, and happens.
posted by jake at 1:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

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