Mini Interview – The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition (What Does Dominic Armato Think?)

By Marty Mulrooney

MISE 2010-07-08 20-53-20-02

After a slight (major!) delay, Dominic Armato has returned to AMO! This brings us one step closer to interviewing the legendary voice actor behind Guybrush Threepwood about every Monkey Island game ever made. Today, we ask him about all things The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition…

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Hey Dom! Great to have you back with us at AMO, what have you been up to since we spoke last year?

Oh, gosh, mostly just moving and getting settled in Phoenix, where it looks like we’ll (finally) be parking for a while. Desperately trying to get more than three hours of sleep a night. Failing miserably at it. The usual. And a little more Monkey Island! :-)

Do you remember when you very first played The Secret Of Monkey Island?

Clear as day. In my bedroom on the Sega CD system, if you can believe it. Instantly hooked.

What made the game stand out to you at the time?

The fact that it made me laugh. Really laugh, not just smirk or chuckle. And that I found it so easy to identify with Guybrush.

Have you replayed it a lot since then?

I’ve made a point to give it a spin every few years. I always shelved it just long enough that when I came back, there’d be some things I’d forgotten and could rediscover.

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Was it just a coincidence that you were asked to voice Guybrush again for both this LucasArts remake and Telltale’s new Monkey Island episodes at roughly the same time?

It was, indeed, a wild coincidence that Telltale and LucasArts decided independently of each other that it was time to resurrect Monkey Island. An alignment of heavenly bodies… a bit of cosmic mojo… something like that.

Did the idea of a special edition excite you, or were you apprehensive at first?

Oh, I was all in from moment one.They had me at “monkey.” You probably shouldn’t read too much into that, though. I missed Guybrush so much, they could have told me they were making Grand Theft Monkey using FMV and I would’ve been like, “Sweet!  Sounds like a winner!  Let’s do this thing!” Once I got over the initial rush, I wouldn’t say I was apprehensive. I figured enough time had passed that they could update it while still honouring it. I just knew we’d have to nail it, and I started focusing on making sure I did my part to get it right.

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Was there any difficulty in recording some of the lines? Of course, this game was never intended to have speech…

An excellent question, and yes, I definitely WAS a little taken aback by how some of the lines were rather awkward to voice. It obviously wasn’t an issue with the quality of the writing. It had everything to do, as you suggest, with the fact that the game was never intended to have speech, so everything was written to be read off the screen. They all work when you’re reading in your head. But in actually performing them, the cadences and rhythms of the lines were sometimes kind of awkward. Ordinarily, you might say, “Hey, this one’s a little awkward, can we rewrite it a little so it flows more cleanly.” But you don’t rewrite a classic, so that wasn’t an option. We just had to muddle through a few of them.

Do you prefer playing in classic mode or the special edition mode?

Purely a matter of mood. Right now, special edition mode, but just because I’ve played the classic mode for so many years, it’s fun to play it with a fresh face.

What is your favourite act of the game and why?

I’m going to say the first. I’m always drawn to the night-time acts for what I’m sure are aesthetic reasons, and there’s something about the initial establishment of Guybrush’s character that’s so darn charming. It’s a beautiful intro to a world that I doubt any of the original developers thought would stick around so long.

What is your favourite character in the special edition and why?

The shopkeeper. He kills me. Great voice acting.

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What is your favourite location in the special edition and why?

The Melee Island docks. In the original version, that salty Caribbean night was implied. In the special edition, it really comes out.

Did you voice Guybrush any differently than you did in Tales Of Monkey Island where he is older?

A little. We never wanted to do too much with him, but I tried to keep him just a touch younger and less snarky. I stress a touch, however.

Was the LucasArts team involved all new or where there any familiar faces?

I don’t believe anybody who worked on the original game was involved in the remake. But for me personally, the only old face was Darragh O’Farrell. He was the voice director for Curse and Escape. He’s now the head of the sound department, so David Collins took over directorial duties, but I’m glad Darragh’s still there. I couldn’t imagine doing a Monkey Island game without him.

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Did the recording process differ much from when you did Tales Of Monkey Island?

It did, primarily in that we recorded in one chunk over three days rather than breaking the recording up over many months. But that aside, it’s a very similar process. We have X number of lines to get through and a certain amount of time scheduled to get through them, so you grab the script and start cranking them out.

Guybrush cooks up a scary voodoo soup as he sets sail for Monkey Island. I know you are a huge food fan: what is the worst meal you have ever had?

The worst I can remember was an Easter buffet at a hotel in Itasca, Illinois, just west of Chicago. When it’s their biggest spread of the year and the least offensive food is the salad bar, you know it’s gone off the rails.

Can we pick your brain again after our review of Monkey Island 2 LeChuck’s Revenge: Special Edition goes live?

Absolutely! And I’m already a month behind! Whoop!

Thank you for your time!

No sweat! :-)

Our exclusive interview sessions with Dominic Armato will continue soon(ish) with a Q&A about this year’s release of Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge. Stay tuned!

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