Monday, April 21, 2014

PokePress in Japan, Parts 1 & 2

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Japan. While in the country, I recorded a few audio logs, the first two of which I've edited into slide shows. The first part covers the journey there:
And the second covers our time in the mountains near Osaka:

In upcoming parts, we'll cover Kyoto, and Tokyo-including the Pokemon Center.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

No Top 25 Countdown on 4/6, 4/10, 4/13

There will not be a Top 25 Countdown today, Thursday, or next Sunday. The next countdown will be on 4/17.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

“Epic Rap Battles of Pokémon” series announced, slated for 2014 release

In a press release sent out today, California-based Maker Studios announced “Epic Rap Battles of Pokémon”, a spin-off of their popular “Epic Rap Battles of History” series. No specific release date (only “2014”) was provided, but a track list was included:

Disc 1
1. Brock vs. Cilan
2. Celebi vs. Dialga
3. Mewtwo (First Movie) vs. Mewtwo (16th Movie)
4. Lawrence III vs. Kodai
5. Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka vs. Junichi Masuda
6. Max vs. Conway
7. Nurse Joy vs. Officer Jenny
8. Rice Balls vs. Doughnuts
9. Ditto vs. Zorua
10. Jigglypuff vs. William Hung
11. “Weird Al” Yankovic vs. Coba
12. Misty vs. May

Disc 2
1. Professor Oak vs. Professor Layton
2. Meowth vs. Garfield
3. Altru Inc. vs. BP
4. Lt. Surge vs. Guile
5. Pokémon Rangers vs. Power Rangers
6. Hitmonchan vs. Little Mac
7. Meloetta vs. Luciano Pavarotti
8. Looker vs. Columbo
9. N vs. Captain N
10. Tracey Sketchit vs. Dr. Katherine Pulaski
11. Gary Oak vs. Lucas Barton
12. Giovanni vs. Vito Corleone
13. Arceus vs. God

Monday, March 31, 2014

New music for the week of 3/31/2014 + Ralph Schuckett bonus

One new track this week from Pokemon Battle Trozei:

-Title Screen

Additionally, here's a few pieces that were cut from the Ralph Schuckett interview:

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Daylight Savings Time Starts Today

Daylight savings time starts today in the US. This means the station's programming has moved ahead one hour from GMT -6 to GMT-5.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Anime Milwaukee 2014: Mario Kart 64 Tournament Winner


The following is an interview with Keith Scannell, winner of the Mario Kart 64 tournament at Anime Milwaukee 2014.

What were the rules and what was the structure of the tournament?
The tournament was set up in games of four-player VS. Mode on 150cc. Each round consisted of two courses (usually first two courses of the cup). In each round, players were ranked using a point system was based off of the Grand Prix mode (nine points for first, six for second, three for third, and one for fourth). The top two overall players moved on to the next round while the bottom two players were eliminated. If there was a tie in points, the players involved in the tie had to play a tie-breaker in Balloon Battle Mode to determine who moved on.

What are some things about Mario Kart 64 that make playing it different from other Mario Kart games?
The tempo and rhythm of the game in general is much faster and harder to control than newer versions of Mario Kart. In the first round, my character felt out of control at times and it took a lap or two to get my kart moving the way I wanted it to. Also, there are some techniques that do not exist in the other games. A good example is that if a player runs over a banana while going straight, that player has a few seconds to press the B button in order to avoid spinning out.

What was your overall strategy for the tournament?
As a child I used to play this game endlessly, so I have a vast knowledge of techniques and courses from those days. My strategy was to use that knowledge, show no mercy, and have fun playing the game I spent hours trying to master. I stayed calm, did not let items and misfortune throw me off, and focused on making comebacks when I needed them.

What was one of the courses where you needed to make a comeback?
Toad’s Turnpike, I started off getting pelted with items and cars, but I used my driving skills to catch up and get first.

What were the races in the finals like?
We played DK’s Jungle Parkway and Yoshi’s Valley on Extra (Mirror in newer Mario Kart games) where the courses were flipped-If you made a right turn in the level, you instead made a left turn in Extra. It felt odd, but playing DK’s Jungle Parkway on the Wii game actually made it easier for me to remember the flipped turns, and I won first place convincingly. The same could not be said for Yoshi’s Valley-I made too many errors and turned the wrong way too many times. It was embarrassing, and it was my only loss in the tournament, but luckily for me, my victory in the first race kept me tied for first place.

That means you had to play battle mode for the championship-what was your strategy for that and how did it play out?
I didn’t really have a strategy until I realized what level we were playing on. We played on the Block Fort level (a fan favorite). In this level, staying at the top of the structure was the key. My goal was to stay on the highest bridges and shoot green shells into the lower levels, keeping an item for defense at all times. I would only leave the bridges to place bananas where I thought the opponent might slip on them, along with fake item boxes. The green shell strategy worked and I won the tournament. 

What else did you do at the convention?
I did a little of everything. I played other video games in the video game room and participated in the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament (since there was no Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament). I didn’t do that well but Mario Kart is more my game anyways. I played Yu-gi-oh in the tabletop games room a few times, went anime shopping on Friday, and went to the rave Saturday night. Basically, I spent the weekend with my four other friends and we enjoyed being silly and having fun together.

Mario Kart 8 comes out May 30th. What are your overall thoughts on the game?
It looks stunning. I’m excited to see how they will use the new anti-gravity feature to impact the game while keeping it a true Mario Kart game. It looks like they are putting a lot of work into the game to make it great, and some of those new courses are breathtaking, like the underwater level and one that looks like a roller coaster. I’m curious to see what older courses they will be adding as well. The Wii U is in need of a groundbreaking game, so we will see if Mario Kart 8 is that game.

Nintendo recently announced the Koopa Kids will be playable characters. What kind of impact do you think that will have on the game? Do you think that might be too many characters?
Mario Kart is a game that does well with many characters. Not only is it a nice reward for playing farther in the game but I think it makes the game more diverse and fun. Also, you can do more with the game if you have more characters-it makes the experience more personal and lets you have your own identity when playing the game. As for the characters themselves, I think the Koopa Kids are a great idea. It’s almost an appeal to older gamers since the kids were only in a few games and then dropped from the Mario series for a long time. It will be interesting to see what they will do in the game and makes you wonder if Bowser Jr. is still in there as well. I’m hoping for a Super Mario World based level for the Koopa Kids.

Some have argued that the series should be expanded to include other Nintendo franchises. What do you think?
Absolutely! It’s one of the reasons why Super Smash Bros. is such a big hit among Nintendo fans. The levels, items, and even cars, would be much more creative and it would attract a lot more gamers to the Mario Kart series if it was done. You could even make it like Mario Kart: Double Dash where you can pair up your favorite Nintendo characters in one car with their own specials. The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

New music for the week of 3/3/2014 + Ralph Schuckett part 4 + Rival Destinies DVD set 3

Two new tracks on the station this week. One from the Japanese version of Billie Piper's "Walk of Life" album:

-Makin' My Way (Remix)

The differences between this version and the one on The First Movie's soundtrack are subtle, but if you listen carefully, they're there.

We also have another track from Ruby and Sapphire:

-Ending Theme

Also, part four of our interview with Ralph Schuckett is up:



This part covers Pokemon 3: Spell of the Unown.

Also, thanks to a tip from a fan, we've found out that the third volume of Rival Destinies will be released on DVD in the US on June 17th:

Amazon

Volume two is scheduled for release on March 25th.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New music for the week of 2/24/2014

Three new X & Y tracks this week:

-GTS
-Battle! (Mewtwo)
-Title Screen (Pokémon Origins)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Musician Interview: Ed Goldfarb

The following is an interview with Ed Goldfarb, who recently started working on music for the latest season of the Pokémon anime.

Ed Goldfarb
Where did you grow up, and how did you get into doing music?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area - both my parents play piano (my father professionally, in his youth) and music (Bach, The Beatles, dixieland jazz) was always in the house. I started piano lessons when I was six years old, and…I just kinda dug it, right from the beginning. I started writing little tunes when I was nine years old, and I had my first professional gigs when I was thirteen - writing arrangements for my junior high school musical, and playing piano at a friend’s dad’s 40th birthday party.

What was your early professional career like?
I got a degree in music composition from Cal Berkeley towards the end of the 20th Century, and have had an extremely eclectic career - I’ve music-directed theatrical revues, written for and conducted symphony orchestras, composed film scores, and even produced the occasional gold record  (Boyz II Men’s “Thank You” being the most famous). I’ve also scored many advertising spots, and produced several hundred independent singer-songwriter recordings.

How much did you know about Pokémon before starting work on the show?
I’ve been aware of Pokémon since its introduction in the US in the 90s, but I’d not seen the show ‘til recently (I have an elementary-school age child). I love pop culture, extended mythologies and creatures of all kinds (real and fictional), so I can state without hesitation that I’ve become a very big Pokémon fan.

When did you start working on the show, and how did the new version of the Pokémon Theme develop?
My work on the Pokémon anime commenced with Season 17. The theme song is a “re-imagining" of the original, iconic “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” song, and it really rocks. I'm primarily a keyboard player, but I know my way around the guitar enough to arrange stuff, so I put together a guitar-centric version of the song, and enlisted my friend Ben Dixon to sing it, ‘cause he’s got a real rock tenor voice. The great Lyle Workman recorded the final guitar parts at his studio in Southern California, and Ben flew out to the SF Bay Area to record his vocals at my studio. The song was mixed by Jeff Saltzman in Portland, Oregon. 

The Sad Truth-All I Want is to Make You Happy
The band listed in the credits is called “Ben Dixon and The Sad Truth”. Who exactly is that?
The Sad Truth are a pop songwriting and record-making project that’s essentially myself and my friend Jon Seltzer, who sang all of the songs on our “All I Want is to Make You Happy” album. Jon has a thriving career as a voice actor in L. A. (he’s heard on all of Nissan Automotive’s radio and TV commercials), and he was unavailable to sing the new version of “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”. However, the musical approach we ended up with isn’t entirely dissimilar to other entries in the Sad Truth canon, so it made sense to credit the performance of the song to “Ben Dixon and The Sad Truth”.

You also started to score the show for this season. What kind of sound are you going for there?
My approach to the score for the Pokémon show is to treat it almost like an opera or classic ballet - every character (including the Pokémon) has their own little theme (or leitmotif, in classical parlance) For example, Ash has a three-note theme usually heard on a trumpet, and it reappears in various guises throughout the score, sounding different when he’s enthusiastic, sad, mid-battle, etc.

How does working on the show make you feel?
I’m extremely proud to be involved with such a unique, well-crafted and entertaining program. There’s really nothing like it, and I think Season 17 has some of the best episodes to date, which is extraordinary for a program that’s been around the better part of two decades. Composing the score for the show has certainly made use of skills I’ve developed over the years as a professional composer, but the variety of tone and plot lines from episode to episode has afforded me a wide range of opportunities for musical expression. In a given episode, I’ll compose music that’s evocative of John Williams’ film scores, contemporary classical music, electronica - you name it. It’s a lot of work, but it’s great fun.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Anime Milwaukee/Kyle Hebert feature before tomorrow's Instrumental PIRN

At last weekend's Anime Milwaukee convention, I got to ask Kyle Hebert some questions about has work as Professor Oak in Pokemon Origins. That feature will debut on the station right before tomorrow's Instrumental PIRN, which starts at 11pm Eastern/10pm Central.

Or you can check it out here: