Saturday, July 14, 2018

Pokemon North American International Championship 2018: Pokkén Tournament DX Masters Winner Interview

Jacob Waller
The following is an interview with Jacob “ThankSwalot” Waller, winner of the Pokkén Tournament DX competition in the Masters division at this year’s Pokémon North American International Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Where are you from, and how did you get into Pokémon?

I’m from Oak Forest, Illinois. I have played Pokémon since I was around six, with my first game being Emerald. Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan, getting every main game in the series and a ton of the spin-off games.

How did you get into competitive Pokkén?

I used to play VGC, but as the years went by, I lost interest due to how the metagame wasn’t as diverse anymore. I feel that nowadays, it revolves around finding a “perfect” team that everybody uses, such as CHALK. I liked watching the people who could do well with unique teams, but I started playing badly when I attempted to do the same. Then, Pokkén Tournament was announced. I hadn’t played any fighting games before besides Smash Bros., but I was still interested in maybe switching from VGC to this. What convinced me to buy the game and play it competitively though, was when Sceptile was announced to be playable.

Speaking of which, you mostly played as Sceptile-what attracted you to that character?

Sceptile has always been my favorite Pokémon. It was my first Pokémon, so I’ve always had a special connection with it. No matter what, I was determined to get good with the character, and luckily, it was a cool “ninja” with a moveset that I liked and enjoyed playing with. What got me interested in it the most though was his mobility. I like playing mind games with my opponents, and Sceptile has a ton of cancelable moves and movement options to make that work out fantastically. My favorite move in the main games is Leaf Blade (largely because it was Sceptile’s signature move), so seeing it do it also made me fanboy out a bit.

Which other characters do you use?

While it might not be the strongest character in the game, I’m well known for having a good Empoleon. Like Sceptile, it has a lot of movement options due to it sliding across the stage. Also, Empoleon was my starter of choice in Diamond, which I played just as much as Emerald when I was young. I’ve realized I can only play my absolute best when the character I play as is one of my favorite Pokémon and has a moveset I enjoy, and Empoleon fit both of those. Machamp also fits that description, and it does well against Aegislash, a character I’ve lost to a lot. I've only picked Machamp up recently, but I still think I’m pretty decent with it.

What was your strategy during the finals?

I knew for a fact Rokso was going to go with Gengar during game one. He was probably thinking I’d use Empoleon, similar to what we did at NEC 18, but I was “in it to win it” so I stuck to my best character. For his Gengar, I wanted to rush in to beat it as fast as I can, but that can be hard since Gengar is a tricky character. My traps (Leech Seed, Bullet Seed, etc.) definitely helped me make Rokso land where I wanted to and corner him, netting me the first game. After that, he switched to Garchomp, and for that character, I mixed up rushing in on him with making him come to me, setting traps depending on the situation. I had to get into his head much more here because Garchomp can basically erase half my health with one combo if I guessed wrong.

Are you worried that the upcoming "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" will take attention away from Pokkén?

Not at all. With Smash being on the Switch now, that just means we will have more consoles to work with (Pokkén always required two Switch units to work at its best), so I welcome Smash entirely. However, I am worried because sometimes the Smash community can be harsh on any Nintendo fighting game that isn’t Smash itself. I don’t get why-most of them probably haven’t tried the game, but I’m not about to bad mouth them. I just think it’s unnecessary to insult a game that won’t be affecting your competitive scene in the slightest.

What would you like to see next from Pokkén?

I’d like to see even more fighters and supports obviously. We don’t have a Normal or Rock-type fighter Pokémon, and I always say for those types I’d like Lopunny and Rhyperior. It’d also be cool to have another surprise pick, kind of like Chandelure. I like the game the way it is, so besides balance patches, I just want to see more characters.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 18-Simon Loveridge/Arceus Movie Music

In the first segment (0:51-14:24), I interview Simon Loveridge, a UK musician who recently published a metal cover of the S.S. Anne theme from Pokémon Red & Blue. We also discuss his other musical work, and oddly, a bit of Guitar Hero.

For the second segment (14:32-53:55), Anne from Pikapi Podcast drops by to talk about the music from the 12th Pokémon movie, "Arceus and the Jewel of Life", where Shoko Nakagawa's "Antenna Of The Heart" goes up against Chris "Breeze" Barczynski's "If We Only Learn". After that, we talk about the opening themes and score of the film.



Links:

Segment 1:
S.S. Anne Cover
Goldeneye Frigate Cover
Super Mario Galaxy Gusty Garden Galaxy Cover

Segment 2:
Pikapi Podcast
Chris "Breeze" Barczynski Interview
Chris "Breeze" Barczynski Website

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 17-The Music of "Pokemon: I Choose You!"

In this single-segment episode, Anne from Pikapi Podcast and I talk about the music from the 20th Pokémon movie, "I Choose You". Our discussion covers the ending themes, openings, and the score. As usual, we also read a few listener comments.



Links:

Pikapi Podcast
Pokemon Movie Music Collection
"Future" by Beverly
The Soundtrack Show

Monday, May 14, 2018

Discussion: The music of "Pokemon: I Choose You!" (Part 1)

Anne from Pikapi Podcast and I jump forward to the 20th Pokemon movie and discuss its music. In particular, we compare "Let's Walk Together" by Asuca Hayashi and "I Choose You" by Haven Paschall, the end themes of the Japanese and US versions of the movie (respectively). These songs have some similarities, but also some distinct differences:

Monday, May 07, 2018

Unboxing the "Future Connection" CD/DVD combo single

The latest Pokemon single, "Future Connection" recently came out in Japan. The single isn't as elaborate as "Alola", but still contains some goodies worth looking at:


Monday, April 30, 2018

Is music commentary not accessible enough?

While watching a recent video about a lack of polished content in the speedrunning community, I came to realize that some of the same problems it described might apply to music as well. Namely, that there's not enough material that attempts to explain what makes it work without requiring significant musical training. Is there something we can do about that?

Monday, April 16, 2018

A trio of Mew-related videos

In honor of Mew finally being made available in Pokemon Go, I've dug up one of my old parodies and had it recorded by Tom Bedlam. The result is "Mew Sensation", a take on "New Sensation" by Australian rock group INXS:


If you'd like to know more about this song, you can take a look here:


If that's still not enough for you, I also recently unboxed "The Birth Of Mewtwo" radio drama CD from Japan:


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Poke Press Digest Podcast: Episode 16-Kids' WB Bumpers/Sky Warrior Music

In the first segment (0:51-12:40), I talk to Brian Oliver, who produced bumpers for Kids' WB back in the day. Listen to find out what the process of creating these promos was like, and what he’s doing now.

Our second segment (12:49-50:16) is a discussion of the music of the 11th Pokémon movie, "Giratina and the Sky Warrior". Anne from Pikapi Podcast helps me match up Crystal Kay's "ONE" to Aaron Brotherton's "This Is A Beautiful World". As usual, we also give our take on the other music from the movie:



Links:

Segment 1:
Master Pokemon

Segment 2:
Pikapi Podcast

Monday, March 26, 2018

Discussion: The Music of "Giratina and the Sky Warrior" (Part 1)

The 11th Pokemon movie, "Giratina and the Sky Warrior" introduces us to the mythical Pokemon Shaymin. In this discussion, Anne from Pikapi Podcast and I discuss the music of the film, focusing  on "ONE" by Crystal Kay and "This Is A Beautiful World" by Aaron Brotherton. These two lyrical takes on the film offer somewhat different perspectives, which may be appropriate given one the characters. Find out more about each of these songs in the first part of our discussion:


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Interview: Brian Oliver (Director of Animation-Kids' WB)

I recently had an opportunity to interview Brian Oliver, who was the director of animation at Kids' WB back in the late 90's and early 2000's. Brian fills us in on many of the details of how the bumpers and promos were made for the network, as well as many of the people he had the opportunity to work with. We also cover "Master Pokemon", a music video that involved a large amount of production work on Brian's part: