Sunday, September 27, 2015

Missed Pokemon Integration?-"Punch-Out!!" Wii

Would the 2009 "Punch-Out!!" game for Wii have been improved if it included a character from Pokemon? That's the topic we explore in this week's video:

If you're interested in learning more, you can read the Kotaku article mentioned in the video. It doesn't specifically address Pokemon, but it does mention the developers were trying to keep things closer the "Punch-Out!!" core cast of characters. Was that a good idea? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pokémon World Championships 2015: Seniors VGC Winner

Mark McQuillan
The following is an interview with Mark McQuillan, winner of the VGC Seniors division in this year’s Pokémon World Championships.

Where are you from, and how did you get into playing the Pokémon video games competitively?
I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland, in the UK and I started playing competitive Pokémon in 2011. I saw something online about the UK National Championships in Birmingham and had managed to persuade my parents to take me there. I had been playing Pokémon casually since 2007 but I knew nothing about competitive Pokémon at that time (I didn’t even have a properly EV-trained team). Even so, I ended up reaching the top eight of that tournament, which got me an invite to the 2011 World Championships in San Diego. Between Nationals and Worlds I learned more about the game and I was able to build a much stronger team for Worlds, where I ended up getting tenth place. That tournament was a very enjoyable experience, so I’ve been playing Pokémon ever since and have now played in a total of five World Championships.

How did you end up with the team you did? Was there an overall strategy? 
The team idea came from a Korean player that I battled online. His team featured a Skill Swap Cresselia alongside a slow Charizard (designed for Trick Room), and he defeated me relatively easily. I took the team of six which I had faced and changed some of the moves as well as made some of my own original sets. One of the main changes was Toxic replacing Psychic on Cresselia-I did this to strengthen my matchup against Milotic and opposing Cresselia, as well to deal important chip damage to Pokémon such as Rotom-Heat (which gave my team a lot of trouble). I also had a hard choice between Conkeldurr and Machamp since the player I faced on Battle Spot never brought his own Machamp to our set and therefore I wasn’t sure what it did. I decided on Machamp because I found in practise that it makes it hard for opponents to switch due to the threat of a Dynamic Punch confusion. It also gave me a better matchup against Charizard with its 100% accurate Stone Edge. Landorus was important on the team since Intimidate support can be crucial at many points during a match, and it provided ways to hit common Pokémon such as Kangaskhan, Charizard and Heatran for at least a two-hit KO. Heatran was good as it could knock out Aegislash in one hit with Overheat and make use of Charizard’s sun with boosted Heat Waves. Sylveon was my least-used Pokémon on the team since I only brought it to one match, but that was mostly because I didn’t play against very many Mega Salamence at Worlds.

Using Skill Swap on Cresselia meant that you had to have a good knowledge of what your opponent’s Pokemon’s abilities are, despite the fact that many Pokémon have multiple possible Abilities. Did you have to prepare a lot?
Actually, there’s not much diversity in the abilities of most of the common Pokémon in VGC. For example, Heatran is guaranteed to have Flash Fire so it is perfectly safe to Skill Swap that ability away allowing Charizard to freely use Heat Wave or Flamethrower. There are barely any Pokémon which have two equally viable abilities; so Skill Swap was not usually a risky play to make.

What’s the most interesting Swap you got in the tournament?
My favourite Skill Swap was when I was able to predict my opponent’s switch into Tyranitar (in an attempt to remove my sun) and use Skill Swap on my own Mega Charizard Y. This meant that I could keep sun up (“switch in” abilities swap before they can activate) and hit the Tyranitar with a Solar Beam, knocking it out in one hit. Another interesting swap was when I was able to take away Flash Fire from a Heatran and give it to my Charizard. This meant that Heatran could not damage My Charizard since I was immune to all of its attacks. I then got a Flash Fire boost which meant I could knock out both Kangaskhan and Landorus-Therian in one hit before winning two vs. one against his Heatran.

What was your overall strategy for the finals? 
I knew in the finals that I needed to put Trick Room up in order to get momentum against my opponent’s faster team. I also knew that he had no reliable way to get rid of my Cresselia and so I could virtually freely set up Trick Room. The Pokémon I was most worried about were his Aegislash, which undersped a lot of the Pokémon on my team, and his Assault Vest Landorus which I had been told was very Specially Defensive. He did not bring his Aegislash to either of our games, possibly fearing my two fire-type Pokémon. I was able to inflict a lot of damage onto my opponent’s Landorus in game one when it switched in on my Cresselia’s Ice Beam and My Charizard’s Heat Wave. He decided not to bring his Landorus to the second match, a decision which helped me considerably as his Sylveon was not as threatening to my team.

You read your opponent extremely well in that match. Was there anything that helped you figure out what your opponent was going to do?
My friend, who had lost to my finals opponent in the Top Four, showed me a replay of the third game in their set. I noted that my finals opponent was very much inclined to double-targeting one of the opposing Pokémon when he felt a Protect may be coming from the other. This aggressive playstyle choice was the reason I opted not to use protect with my Charizard on the first turn of the first game. This paid off for me and I was able to hit his Zapdos with a Flamethrower and put up Trick Room on the same turn. I knew that on turn two he needed to preserve his Landorus since I was threatening it with an Ice Beam. I had played that situation many times when practising with the team and so I knew to Skill Swap and Heat Wave on the switch. If he had stayed in with Landorus then I still would have been in a good position as I would have been able to Skill Swap his intimidate putting him to minus one attack, meaning he would not be able to OHKO my Charizard with Rock Slide. In game two, when I went for Dynamic Punch on his Zapdos I knew he would probably have Kangaskhan and Heatran in the back so if he switched I would get a KO, and if he stayed in he may be confused. The lead matchups were very positive in both games, and therefore I was able to play very offensively, forcing my opponent to switch. This was good for me as one of the main objectives of the team was to punish my opponents’ switches.

Are there any improvements you might make to your team if you used it again?
If I had the opportunity to change my team, the only Pokémon I would consider swapping out would be Sylveon, since I only brought it to one match. However, it was definitely an important Pokémon in that match and it really strengthened my overall matchup against Mega Salamence (despite that particular Mega Evolution not being very popular at the World Championships).

What’s it like winning the world championship?
Winning the World Championships felt like I was redeeming myself after losing in the finals the previous year. Coming so close to winning in 2014 was exciting and felt like a great accomplishment, but falling at the last hurdle was heartbreaking and (slightly) hurt my confidence. I don’t feel that I played very well in that match and the heavy defeat did not make me look good, especially on-stream. Winning the World Championships has been a goal of mine since I began to drastically improve at the game (around 2013), and finally doing it this year, in my final year of seniors, felt like a lot of hard work finally paying off.

Did you do anything else interesting in Boston?
Despite not having very much time in Boston with the tournament taking up three days, I did thoroughly enjoy my time there. My parents and I went on a walking tour along part of the Freedom Trail which was quite interesting. We also went to Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red Sox. This was my first experience of baseball and the game was very exciting and fast paced. My family also spent a week in Cape Cod prior to the event which was really enjoyable: We went to Provincetown, saw the impressive Pilgrim’s Monument and cycled to the many beaches on the cape. Cape Cod was a nice, relaxing holiday but I still made sure to practise consistently during that time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New music for the week of 9/14/2015

Two new tracks this week. One from movie 18:

-The Light of Hope-Arceus's Theme

And one more:

-Route 104

This is a selection from "ACROMACH: A Hoenn Tribute", a new fan album. You can pick up the album on Loudr or iTunes to hear more, or watch a preview here:

Happy Listening!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Real Pokemon: The First Movie Blu-Ray Appeared! In Australia...

Turns out the Aussies are getting the first three Pokemon movies on Blu-ray just in time for Christmas. Find out what we know (and don't know) about this collection, and what it could mean for the wider world:


Hi, folks. Steven here. Just wanted to put up a video discussing one of the news stories from earlier this week that I think could use a little more attention. So, some of you may remember that last year I put up a video about a fake Pokemon: The First Movie Blu-ray that appeared on eBay. And, this is sort of a follow up to that.

Now, since then, I’ve seen fake Blu-rays of second and third movies, fake DVDs of the first three movies and Mewtwo Returns. A fake “repress” of the 4-7 Blu-ray, Origins and even the Zoroark movie. But, what’s happened this week is that we found out that Australia is getting a Blu-ray pack of movies 1-3. You may remember that this has been out of print for years. First Movie in 2009, second in 2010, third in 2011. So, there hasn’t been a legitimate way to buy these.

But, in any case, this 1-3 Blu-ray collection is coming out on December 2nd. And, if you would rather get them on DVD, they’re available individually on that same day. We don’t know a ton about these collections. We can’t actually see the backs of them, so we don’t know if they’re going to have the shorts or special features of any sort. Now, you may remember that the first three Pokemon movies have been cycling through on Pokemon TV. As of recording this, they have the third movie up there. And, none of them, as far as I know, have the shorts associated with them. So, it remains to be seen if they’ll be on these. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

And, as far as special features, to be honest, I’m not expecting a whole lot. It would be nice if they could at least bring the special features from the original releases forward. That would be very nice. So, with this release, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering, is this going to be importable? Well, as it turns out, these are labeled as Blu-ray Region B, which covers Australia, New Zealand, and a good chunk of Europe. Which, is a different region from Region A, which covers the US, Canada, Japan, and a few other places. So, technically speaking, unless you had a region-free Blu-ray player, you wouldn’t be able to use these.

However, as you may know, the Magna and Beyond Blu-ray for movies 12-15 that came out in Australia-the same distributor for this-would also play in Region A players. There were a few caveats. You might want to check out my review of the movie 14, the Victini movie Blu-ray that we did a couple years ago, sort of discusses some of that.

These might also play in Region A players. We really don’t know. And, my advice, if you don’t have a region-free player, is just to wait until they come out and then look for some confirmation online about whether they support Region A. And then, I guess, you could find a way to import them.
So, next question you’re probably asking, what does this mean for the US? Are we going to see these eventually? I suppose there’s a small chance that we could get something announced for this year. But, I think we’re much more likely to see something next year. And, just to kind of forewarn you, this could be a Blu-ray, or it could be just digital distribution of these movies on iTunes, Amazon Instant, and the like.

Part of the reason for this is that we’ve never gotten, in North America, a Blu-ray of Pokemon from Viz, who would probably end up doing this type of distribution. No real reason why Australia has gotten this but the US hasn’t. Maybe Viz thinks it’s economically unviable. One idea that I have-pure speculation on my part-is maybe Viz has some sort of cap on how many Blu-rays they can produce in a given year and Pokemon would use up too much of that quota. Like I said, total speculation on my part. Just putting that out there.

So, with that said, hopefully some time within the next 6-8 months, we’ll find something out that something is coming to the US. But, until then, I’m just kind of curious, what are your thoughts, idea, comments on this? Are any of you thinking about getting this from Australia? Or, what’s the deal with that? Alright, folks. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

New music for the week of 9/7/2015

Two new tracks this week, both from movie 18:

-Patching Things Up
-Hoopa Unbound

Happy Listening!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Pokémon World Championships 2015: Juniors TCG Winner

Rowan Stavenow
The following is an interview with Rowan Stavenow, winner of the TCG Juniors Division in this year’s Pokémon World Championships. Rowan used a Landorus/Bats deck in this year’s tournament.

Where are you from, and how did you get into playing the Pokémon TCG?
I am from the Toronto area in Ontario, Canada. I first got into Pokémon with my friends at school-they were trading the cards and I though they looked really neat. My brother Grayson also thought they were cool, so we started to learn how to play at home. When we went to the local card store (Comic Connection) in Oakville, we found out that they had a league on Saturdays and some players there helped us learn more.

What made you choose to use this deck for Worlds?
I am familiar with Landy Bats and have played it for about eight months. I like decks with options, and I feel that my deck has lots of them. For example, I can snipe Pokémon on the bench before they evolve, or I can deal heavy damage to the active. Also, I thought the meta would have lots of Manectric, which of course would be a good match-up for me.

What did other folks think of your choice?
One of my friends was talking to my dad at the beginning of the tournament. He asked about what deck I was playing and said “Did Rowan bring ‘Old Faithful’?” Another friend was always saying “I can’t believe you are playing Landy Bats”, or “you are playing Landy Bats again?” Well, I wasn’t the only one to bring Landy Bats to worlds-turns out it is a pretty good deck.

“Bats” decks have to make sure they place damage counters when and where they will be most effective. What are some general rules you use to decide whether to evolve?
I generally ask myself these three questions:
1. Will the bat get knocked out if un-evolved?
2. Does my opponent have a large threat (something with potential to do a lot of damage) in play?
3. Can I get a knock out if I evolve the bat (bench snipe)?

If the answer to any one of those questions is “yes”, I will generally evolve the bat.

In the finals, you were paired against a Primal Groudon deck. What was your overall strategy for that matchup?
Well, to be honest, I didn’t really expect to get to the finals. In the Top Four I was matched up against one of my friends. He is a great player, and he was playing Toad/Bats, which is a really hard deck for me to face, but I managed to get past it.

Now, as far as the finals matchup, during Swiss matches on Saturday I encountered two other Primal Groudon decks. My overall strategy was to snipe the Groudon while they were on the bench and before they became active. When they did become active my hope was that they would have enough damage on them so that my Hawlucha could one-hit them. I also didn’t want the Groudon to knock out any of my EX Pokémon. Giving up two prizes was something I wanted to avoid, and since Hawlucha can do so much damage for a single energy while only giving up one prize, I felt that was the way to go. I won both of those matches, so felt I had a good strategy in place, and it worked for the first game of the finals as well. I was going to use that strategy in the second game, but didn’t really need to because my opponent drew dead, and his Computer Search was prized.

Your finals opponent defeated a deck similar to yours in the Top Four. What did you do differently to get the win?
I tried to use Hammerhead as soon as possible, before he could get a Hard Charm on his Groudon.
The Top Four player attacked with Bunnelby. Dealing damage to the Groundon while they were still on the bench is a key strategy to win the match-up. While Bunnelby is attacking, no damage is done to the Groudon.

Any other tips?
The ability of Wobbuffet (or Silent Lab) to turn off Shaymin’s Set Up Ability was a difficult part of the match-up. The Set Up Ability is a great help in drawing cards and increasing the overall consistency of my deck. There were a few times that I couldn’t use Set Up, and had to hold my Shaymin in my hand. During the tournament, I saw other players making the mistake of benching Shaymin, while its Ability was shut down. I tried really hard to be aware of this.

I notice that when taking multiple prizes for knocking out an EX, you usually take prizes that are not adjacent. Is there a reason for that?
In some cases my deck may have been clumped, meaning two side-by-side prizes could be the same.

What does it feel like to be a world champion?
It feels unbelievable to be a world champion in my first year playing Pokémon.

Did you do anything else at worlds (or in Boston)?
On Friday, I was fortunate enough to win my first three matches. After that, I didn’t have to play anymore, so I could spend the afternoon playing in side events with my friends. I also went to the fifth floor of the Sheraton hotel as often as I could to trade cards and test matchups. On Sunday, after the closing ceremonies, I went on a Duck Tour of Boston with my family.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

New music for the week of 8/31/2015

As usual, three new tracks this week. Two from movie 18:

-In the Morning Sun
-Teaching the Shadow About Hoopa

And one more:

-Brother, My Brother (Pokémon: The First Movie - Soundtrack)

This is an acoustic & electric guitar cover of the song from The First Movie. I strongly recommend picking this new version up on Amazon or iTunes if you like it.

Additionally, there's only about a week left to vote on our poll regarding some of the songs from Pokemon 2000. Weigh in if you haven't already!

Happy listening!