Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Tim Kitzrow who is displayed on card number 3091, from the Superstars of 2019 Collection. Tim is also featured on card number 4110. You can hear the legendary voice of Tim Kitzrow on dozens of popular video game franchises such as NBA Jam, NHL Hitz and NFL Blitz among many others. Based out of Chicago, Tim’s voice is imbedded in millions of video gamers around the world with such phrases as “BOOMSHAKALAKA”, “He’s on Fire!” and “Get that out of Here!”. Tim has been traveling across different states the last few years meeting fans, signing autographs, and using his legendary voice to announce tournaments, YouTube Channels and Kickstarters. For more information on Tim’s history and videos, go to timkitzrow.com.
How did you get the job of being the voice of NBA Jam?
I had established myself as a reliable voice actor for the many pinball titles I had done at Williams/Bally between “88 and ‘92, so When Mark Turmell started working on Jam across the street at MIDWAY GAMES, I was the first and only choice. I believe Jon Hey, Jams producer and audio guru who wrote all the great JAM music recommended me. Luck perhaps, or as I see it, preparation and experience meet opportunity.
Do you remember when you played your first arcade game and what do you remember about the experience?
PAC-MAN in college. I remember it was addictive and that I would run out of quarters soon and that I needed them for beer. I had a Work Study job to help pay for tuition that was 16 hours a week @ $1.80 hr. So, I learned early on $28 per week would not be able to support beer and video games AND living expenses. That is why I never learned to play other video games and have been a video game virgin my entire life.
What does it take to be a video game voice actor, and what advice would you give a person today who would like to get into the industry?
Like any creative path it’s about fun, passion, and letting go. I fell in love with acting at a young age because it seemed to be the one of the few things you could do in life where you could continue to use your imagination and play, it didn’t seem like one of those scary “sell your soul for the company job” careers that terrified me as kid to think about. Today anyone can afford to buy a decent mic and play and practice on their own and make their own demo tape. All I had was a cheap push button recorder, but don’t think I did not play on that thing all the time. I never set out for this career but boy if you told me when I was a kid worrying about growing up and getting a real job that I would not only be doing this but have made such an impact that I would be on a Walter Day trading card, I’d say “wow, lucky you! talk about a birthday candle wish come true! When I meet dads’ and their sons at shows, and they are both grinning from ear to ear and the dad says “wow! You are the voice of my childhood” and the kid says with disbelief” you’re really the guy that says boomshakalaka?”I feel just like that little kid , and the little kid in me is also thinking, “ am I really that guy who says Boomshakalaka?!” Life is good.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I met Walter at the MGC in Milwaukee while promoting my new game MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE about 4 years ago with Billy Mitchell. Fortunately, our paths have crossed at the conventions again after the shutdown.
Besides NBA Jam, what are other games you do voice over work for?
Well NFL BLITZ was my other blockbuster hit and I did all of the sports titles at Midway except for HANGTIME. Other titles include MLB SLUGFEST, NHL HITZ, WAYNE GRETSKY 3D HOCKEY, COLLEGE SLAM, SHOWTIME, NBA HOOPS, FRANK THOMAS BIG HURT BASEBALL, MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE, RAGE 2. I’ve also voiced 15 or more pinball titles. Some of my favorites include, The Twilight Zone, Elvira, Scared Stiff and House of Horrors, Deadpool, Roadshow, Hotshot, NBA Pinball, World Cup Soccer and Popeye.
Do you have a favorite team for NBA Jam and why?
I moved to Chicago in ‘87 and had come from Albany NY where Phil Jackson had coached the local CBA basketball team to the championship, and he landed in Chicago to coach MJ. I was crazy about MJ having seen him in the Olympics and having seen some of his early hype and highlights. I was there from the beginning when the Bulls sucked and watched them climb to the mountain top. A very exciting time.
Do you prefer arcade or console gaming and why?
Arcade is the true artform for me. But more from an esthetic and tactile perspective. There is something magical about the cabinets with their amazing artwork all lit up and beckoning you with their attract mode. It’s like an album cover and vinyl is sexier than a download, I guess. It’s you and the machine, the same size as you are going at it. Just holding some dinky controller played on a 19-inch tv in the early console days just isn’t the same. Unfortunately, a lot of gamers grew up on the console JAM and missed out on the electrifying arcade experience which also meant a bunch of challengers and a real game like atmosphere of competition and trash talking.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I would love to sound more intelligent and informed when it comes to game questions but as I said I made a choice early on that I could not afford the money or time to play video games and after college I was busy doing theater, working restaurants and never found a fit for games in my life. I have approached my relationship with this industry as an actor, writer, and entertainer, not as a gamer.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
KIND! Instantly you feel he could be your best friend growing up, or that favorite teacher you had or wished you had, or the guy you worked with who made each day bearable and meaningful. Or like Santa Clause without the costume and beard because he just radiates GOOD. A legend in the gaming community and one of the good guys.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Yes. For all the realistic shooter games it says something about what people view as fun and entertainment these days and that is disturbing. Shooting games have always been popular but have evolved into something quite dark. Early arcade rifle games were my favorite and the only arcades I enjoyed as a kid in fact. A big wooden rifle and various different bulls’ eyes and moving animal targets to shoot at. At amusement parks there were the shooting galleries with targets to hit like a bullseye on a piano to make it play, or hit the beer mugs etc., but nonstop shooting other humans with the blood and guts is just something I don’t understand or relate to. If you then have mentally ill people addicted to this form of virtual role playing it cannot lead to anything positive, period.
What other work did you do in the gaming industry besides voice acting?
I have written or co-written all of my scripts starting after the original NBA JAM, so NFL BLITZ on. For the remake of NBA JAM with EA in 2010 and 2011 release I wrote the whole script. Half of the thrill for me in this business is to be the joke writer and content creator.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
I had no idea the impact my games would have at all. It was just a lot of fun to have a creative outlet and make some extra money. I never saw this as a career path early on. I’m still knocked out at the thought of being on a Walter Day trading card.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card? If so, where?
Really just in the community and the retro game shows. I had just started to discover the retro game show world at the time I received it and then Covid hit, so I’m just getting back out there now on the “tour circuit”. I’m still amazed and humbled by the honor and I made copies with my contact info on it for my business card and people are blown away by it.
Besides the games you did voice work for, which was your favorite game back in the 1990’s?
I did love Cruisin. The great designer Eugene Jarvis from Midway did that one. When I would go in for recording sessions, they had every MIDWAY arcade game in the lunchroom and that was the only one I played. I could total a Mustang or a Vette better and faster than anyone who worked at Midway!
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Sure, it gave them something other than comic books to draw from for fantasy themes. I loved RAMPAGE created by my friend and legendary Midway designer Brian F. Colin.
Who is your favorite video game character of all time and what makes that character special?
Me in EA’s remake of NBA JAM and SHOWTIME as a secret character! What’s so special? Are you kidding me? I’m a character in a video game?! Crazy! I guess that’s why I’m in Old School Gamer Magazine and this website, plus Walter Day knows who I am!
Are you still involved with NBA Jam today, and what role do you play?
I’ve been involved since 1993 in one way or another. Unfortunately, the title has not seen a remake since 2011 but I have been a proud ambassador for the game on my own because I love it so much and the joy it brings others. I’ve been doing various NBA JAM events with teams, including doing custom written and voiced highlights for teams which are played on their JUMBOTRON’S and on social media. I worked for 2 years with the Warriors for their back-to-back championships doing playoff series and FINALS highlight roundups Dub Jam: NBA Finals Edition . Throwback and 90’s nights nights have been fun for me too Houston Rockets Create NBA Jam Highlights. Including MC’ing for halftime dunk shows, NBA JAM day for the CLippers and highlights for SPorts Center on the games 25th anniversary ‘NBA Jam’-ifying the season’s best plays | SportsCenter | ESPN . So yeah, my tombstone is going to read: “Boomshakalaka!… at the buzzer! The nail in the coffin…IT’s GOOOD!!”
Where do you see video gaming in the next 10 years?
Well with VR it’s tough to say but I think there will always be an audience for the old school arcade style quick fix, over the top fun like many of my games. It’s like, “hey, let’s take a break from this 3-hr. sim game in the metaverse and play a game, how ‘bout some NBA JAM or BLITZ?” My games are French fries, popcorn, cotton candy and ice cream in a world of 12 course “foodie only” tasting menus.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.