Sega Drops Series Monkey Ball Announcer, Who Claims Discrimination

Sega Drops Series Monkey Ball Announcer, Who Claims Discrimination
Image: Sega

Brian Matt, the original announcer for the Super Monkey Ball series, will apparently not be heard in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, despite the new release being effectively a remake of the first two games. Today, Sega claimed that Matt was never even involved in the development of the latest Super Monkey Ball, a claim that stands in stark contrast to those of Matt himself, who has repeatedly teased his involvement in the game on his Instagram over the past year.

Speaking to VCG, a Sega representative stated that “Brian Matt Uhl did not work on Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania and has not been involved with the Super Monkey Ball series for some time.” This news should be a surprise to anyone who closely follows Matt on Instagram, where he updated the credits on his own website to include Banana Mania. In the comments of the same post, Matt stated that he has not officially been listed as the announcer: “Legal issues still. Having announcers not credited or paid royalties is still a major issue with SegaSammy…I’m an advocate for both legal and moral rights for foreigners in Japan.” Currently, Angela Chubak and Mirai Patrick Sayama are the only credited announcers for Banana Mania.

Although Brian Matt has been an announcer for the series since the first Super Monkey Ball, his relationship with Sega has been rocky as of late. On November 13 2020, he posted a YouTube video called “The Dark Side of Sega.” In it, Matt states that the Japanese parent company, Sega Sammy Holdings, believes that they have a legal right to choose whether or not they credit foreign-born voice actors. In contrast, Japanese voice actors receive both credits and royalties. According to Matt, Sega doesn’t extend the same courtesy to foreign narrators because “they come and go.” This is in spite of Matt’s long history of doing voice work for other Sega games including Shenmue.

There are Super Monkey Ball fans who believe that Brian Matt is being punished for breaking his non-disclosure agreement by teasing his involvement in the game ahead of its official E3 announcement. Non-disclosure agreements are contracts that restrict one or more parties from revealing certain information to the public. In the video game business, this often includes the very existence of upcoming games. However, Matt teased the upcoming Super Monkey Ball game for months prior to the announcement. A full year before the announcement, YouTuber Nick Robinson tried to confirm the existence of Super Monkey Ball 3 by interviewing Matt on a video call. Matt wondered aloud what he could tell Robinson without “getting in trouble,” before proceeding to perform some classic Super Monkey Ball announcer lines. Yeah, I think that may be enough to get you in trouble.

Other Japanese companies have been known to treat foreign-born employees differently from Japanese employees. Sega of America has also previously been sued for racial discrimination against Filipino game testers. It’s entirely possible that a large gaming company discriminated against one of their longstanding voice actors. However, his position in this dispute would be a lot more sympathetic if he hadn’t touted his involvement in the game before it had even been officially announced.

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