Friday, December 23, 2016

Unboxing the Pokemon Sun/Moon Soundtrack + "Pokemon Pop" CD

In this double feature, we unbox the Pokemon Sun & Moon soundtrack from Japan, and a promotional CD called "Totally Pokemon Pop!" that came in while I was in London:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pokemon 2000 Ending Themes Discussion

Anne from Pikapi Podcast drops by to talk about the Japanese and English ending themes of Pokemon 2000. How will "toi et moi" and "The Power of One" fare against each other?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

WTPT-Pokemon Christmas Bash Review-Part 1

Way back in 2007, I appeared on the WTPT Pokemon Podcast to discuss the "Pokemon Christmas Bash" album. In the first part, KC and Jowy do a brief news segment, then bring me in to introduce the album:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Review: Pocket Monsters XYZ Character Song Collection Volume 2

Steven Reich
Earlier this year, Pokémon put out an EP of character songs featuring the Japanese voice actors from the sixth generation of the anime. Predictably (given that the EP had “Vol. 1” in its title), this has led to a second volume that was released in late October. Despite its name, this second volume also includes the songs from the first volume (though not their instrumental counterparts), and as such, the question becomes whether the new songs add enough value for consumers who already picked up the first volume. Here’s a run-down of the new tracks on this album:


“DreamDream” is one of several rearrangements of songs from earlier in this generation in this collection. Unlike when this was done in generation four for Hikari (Dawn), however, this version is fairly close to the earlier release of the track. As a result (and perhaps also due to my unfamiliarity with Serena’s Japanese voice actor, Mayuki Makiguchi), I’m not particularly attached to this rendition of the ending theme. It’s hardly bad, but doesn’t offer much beyond the original version.

Brilliantly (a.k.a. Glitter)

Performed by Citron’s (Clemont’s) voice actor Yūki Kaji, this remake of a song from the “Getter Ban Ban” single was more appealing to me, but perhaps that’s just an indication of my fondness for his engineering work (similar to how my love of art elevates my opinion of Tracey), or that the underlying song appeals to me more due to its “fun” quality. In any case, it ends up being one of the standout tracks on this collection for me.

Pikachu’s Song

A call-and-response track between a group of children and Ikue Ohtani, this is clearly a song designed for a different audience. There’s a fair amount of variation, and I appreciate the challenge writing this song must have presented, but it’s definitely not something I would listen to more than once in a while.

Meowth’s Ballad

Another in a line of Meowth-related tunes, this song (as the name implies) goes for a lighter mood akin to “Meowth’s Song” from generation one. Like the older track, I enjoy listening to this, and it’s impressive that Inuko Inuyama can deliver such a low-key performance. Definitely comes across as one of the better entries on this CD.

XY & Z (Movie Version)

As one might expect, this is the earlier TV version with some new instruments (Side Note: I really miss instances like the first few English movies and “High Touch” where they would re-do or otherwise majorly change the theme for the movies-it doesn’t have to happen for each one, but it would be nice to see more often). My feelings on this version are pretty much the same as the original-it’s good overall, but the ending doesn’t seem to be quite what I wanted tonally.


If I didn’t own either, I’d probably pick up just this second volume (especially since I’m not running a station anymore), as there’s not a great need to own the instrumental versions present on the first volume. If you already have that first EP, I would still say this is worth purchasing as long as you’re interested in enough of the new tracks. I would have preferred to have a few more fully original songs, but in general it’s still a good package.

Want to see an unboxing of this CD?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Poll + More Pokemon Music Discussion

As a follow-up to our recently posted discussion of ending themes of Pokemon: The First Movie, I've added a poll where you can voice your opinion as to whether "Together With The Wind" or "We're A Miracle" is the better song. Additionally, I recently posted some bonus audio from that discussion:

If that's still not enough for you, here's a preview of our discussion of the second movie's ending themes:

The full version will be posted later, but you can hear it now as a timed exclusive on the Pikapi Podcast Patreon feed.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pokemon: The First Movie Ending Theme Comparison

Anne of Pikapi Podcast joins in to compare the Japanese and English ending themes of Pokemon: The First Movie. What do "Together With The Wind" and "We're A Miracle" have to offer, and which one will come out on top?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Unboxing a "We're A Miracle" Mastering CD

Christina Aguilera's "We're A Miracle" wasn't written or recorded for Pokemon: The First Movie, but it did take some work to make it ready for the film. Here, we go over a mastering CD that I picked up off of eBay that fills in some details about how that song ended up where it did:

This was an interesting opportunity for me, as I'm always looking for ways to find out more about the production process behind Pokemon music. It's difficult to say if or when I'll have another chance like this, but I'll certainly keep looking.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

WTPT-2.B.A. Master Review-Part 4 (Listener Mail) + First Movie Ending Theme Discussion

In the last part of the episode, we go over some of the mail Jowy and KC received:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

If you missed some of the earlier parts (or want to restart from the beginning), all four parts are available in a playlist:

If you still need more discussion of Pokemon music, Anne from Pikapi Podcast and I recently recorded a comparison of the Japanese and English ending themes for the first Pokemon movie ("Together With the Wind" and "We're a Miracle"). It will appear here eventually, but for now it's a timed exclusive on the Pikapi Podcast Patreon feed. Here's a sample:

Monday, September 19, 2016

WTPT-2.B.A. Master Review-Part 3

We continue our discussion of the Pokemon 2.B.A. Master album by giving our overall thoughts:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Geek.Kon 2016: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Tournament Winner

At Geek.Kon 2016, I had an opportunity to interview Jesus Solis, winner of a Super Smash Bros. for Wii U tournament. We talk about how he got  into competitive Smash, his choice of characters, and his strategy for the finals:


Steven: Hi, I’m Steven Reich here at Geek.Kon 2016. I’m here with Jesus [pronounced hey-suess] Solis, who is the winner of the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Tournament for this year. Jesus, we just have a few questions. First of all, how did you get into competitive Smash Bros.?

Jesus: Well honestly, I’ve always loved Smash Bros., but I just recently got into it when the game came out. I hung out with some friends around Geekplastiq, which is a local store around Madison. And they held these tournaments. I just figured I’d go, and I got to meet some friends who really got competitive with it. So, I kind of just hung around the crowd and kind of got into it.

Steven: That’s neat. So, what were the basic rules for this tournament? How many stock did you have, and what were some of the other things about it?

Jesus: The tournament rules were you had 2 stocks. It was timed for 6 minutes. The stages were a little bit weird, but they were tournament stages. And otherwise than that, it was just basic standard tourney rules.

Steven: So you are allowed in certain cases to switch characters. Basically, if you lose a round, you’re allowed to switch your character for the next round. So you actually used several different characters for this. What were the characters you used for this tournament?

Jesus: I only used 2, which were Mario and Kirby.

Steven: Why those 2 particular characters? Let’s start off, first of all, why Mario?

Jesus: Well, I love Mario’s move set. The mechanics just feel good. He always has a good reflector going on. And the FLUDD is kind of underestimated, because it can be used in very good moments, especially in gimping. And he just worked out pretty well.

Steven: And Kirby is your alternate character there. What do you like about Kirby?

Jesus: To be honest, he’s just a big ball of pinkness. But just his move set as well. There’s a lot you can do with Kirby that people don’t really quite notice. For example, if you’re trying to gimp a Little Mac off a stage here, they can just rush into you and you can swallow them up and poof them back out. But it’s kind of risky, because Little Mac is just this brute of superarmor.

Steven: Yeah, that did kind of come up in the finals as well. So, in the finals, you were paired against a guy-he used Cloud, which is of course one of the new DLC characters, relatively new, and Little Mac. So what was your strategy, first of all, against Cloud?

Jesus: Well, against Cloud- Cloud is definitely strong. And he definitely is fearful when he is charged of his move. So the only thing that’s unfortunate is his recovery. So my strategy was to try to gimp him off a stage here and make him fall off stage.

Steven: Yep, that was the basic strategy there. Eventually though, your opponent did switch to Little Mac. By that point, you had switched to Kirby, so what’s that matchup kind of like?

Jesus: Well, it was completely-it was a wait game, to be honest. Because if I had approached him in the middle of the stage, he would have definitely gotten me. Little Mac here, he’s easy to get in the corner of stages here, just because his recovery’s also really bad, his Up+B, and his side+B. From there on, it’s just a patience game with him. Because, you really need to just try your best to avoid his smash moves, because they’re all just strong. It worked out pretty good. It was just very, very intense.

Steven: It’s an interesting match up there. Well, this is the fourth, if you count the 3DS and Wii U versions together, fourth entry in the series. It’s almost certain, although nothing’s officially announced, that there will be a 5th generation Smash. What would you like to see in a new iteration?

Jesus: First of all, a good controller. Continue to have the GameCube controller as the controller for the mechanics, because the WiiPad is not the greatest, the Wiimote is not the greatest. The 3DS isn’t so bad as a controller, but it’s just a bit strange, just because people are used to this mechanic going on with Smash and so on.

Steven: It is interesting how that controller that was originally designed for games like Luigi’s Mansion and Pikmin and stuff like that has sort of lived on as the default Smash controller, especially for competitive players. Alright, well thank you very much, Jesus. This has been Steven Reich from Geek.Kon 2016.

Transcript by

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Preview: Geek.Kon 2016

I recently had an opportunity to talk to Adam Pulver, public relations representative for Madison-area convention Geek.Kon.  He was able to fill me in on some of the details of this year’s event, which runs from Friday the 26th to Sunday the 28th.

How did Geek.Kon get started?
Geek.Kon was started ten years ago by some University of Wisconsin students. After two free two-day conventions on campus, we moved off-site to a hotel, expanded to three days, and promptly outgrew the space in one year. We've been at the Marriott ever since.

Who are some of this year's guests?
This year's featured guest is Jason Carter, best known as Ranger Marcus Cole on Babylon 5. We also have voice actors Jerry Jewell, Christina Kelly, and Ryan Reynolds, author John Jackson Miller, and a number of great local guests including writers, game designers and other industry professionals.

This year there's a Pokémon Go panel, and a Pokkén Tournament competition. When are those?
The Pokémon Go panel is Saturday at noon, and the Pokkén Tournament event is Sunday at noon.

If someone came in a Pokémon-related costume, is there a meetup for that as well?
Yes, we're dedicating a special room for people to take cosplay photos and have suggested a number of photoshoot times. Pokémon’s shoot is Friday night at 8:00.

Where can people find more information about the convention?
We encourage people to visit our website  and download our online schedule

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

WTPT-2.B.A. Master-Part 2 (Double Trouble + PokeRap)

In the second part of our review of the 2.B.A. Master album, we focus on the Team Rocket "Double Trouble" song, and the original PokeRap:

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

WTPT-2.B.A. Master-Part 1 (News + Album Overview)

Back in 2008 I recorded an episode of the WTPT podcast discussing the 2.B.A. Master album. In the first part, we discuss some of the details regarding the release of Pokemon Platinum in Japan, then talk a bit about the production of the CD.

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for permission to upload this audio.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pokémon TCG Steam Siege Prerelease: Madison, WI

Glen Ausse
The following is an interview with Glen Ausse, who participated (along with his son) at a recent Pokémon TCG Steam Siege Prerelease in Madison, WI.

Where are you from?

We’re from the Madison area.

How did you and your son get into Pokémon?

My son was introduced to Pokémon cards while attending camp last summer. A number of the kids were bringing the cards to camp and trading them and playing a simplified version of the game. He was really interested in the colorful cards and the social aspect of the game. That meant of course that he needed some cards for him to join in the fun, so we bought him a few tins to start off his collection.

After camp ended, my son wanted to continue playing so I located a local game store, where we quickly learned that they were not really using the Pokémon TCG rules at camp (for example, they didn’t use any Energy cards and just used any attack their Pokémon had). So we decided we needed to learn the rules so he could continue playing. That’s where I started to get more involved-I needed to learn the game myself so I could teach it to him and help him with questions and develop his skills. He learned quickly and his grasp of the strategy of the game often catches me by surprise. This year he even started a Pokémon Club at his elementary school (2nd graders) and I have gone in a few times to help teach the club members.

What’s it been like trying to learn about Pokémon as a parent?

I am a long-time gamer (RPG, strategy/war games, board games), so it wasn’t as hard for me to learn as it might be for others. I also have a few friends that play or have played Magic, so I was aware of the concepts of collectible card games but had never played them myself. We started by getting a couple of theme decks and a few card lots on eBay. We found a number of helpful videos on how to play on YouTube to get the basics down and eventually began attending Pokémon casual play events at local game stores. After we became comfortable with the basic rules we started attending the league events and that has become a weekly thing for us. That league play has helped us pick up some of the finer details and strategies for playing, deck building and trading.

The prerelease you attended was for the Steam Siege set-what are a few cards from that set you found interesting?

The stand out cards for me in Steam Siege are the new trainer cards Pokémon Ranger, Special Charge and Ninja Boy. Pokémon Ranger is useful because it allows players to bypass the effects of many popular “shut down” attacks like those seen on Jolteon, Seismitoad and Giratina EX. Special Charge will likely become a mainstay for decks (such as Night March) that rely on Special Energy Cards, allowing them to recover two of them from the discard pile. Finally, Ninja Boy is sure to create some surprises and interesting strategies with its ability to switch out the active Pokémon with another from your deck.

I also like the rereleased Yveltal, the new Yveltal BREAK and the full art Professor Sycamore cards. My son is looking forward to trying some strategies with the new dual-type Pokémon like Volcanion EX.

This is the second set using the new prerelease format. What are your thoughts so far?

I think the addition of the Evolution pack has really added to the playability and consistency of prerelease decks. Both my son and I were able to easily include ten useful Trainer cards to our decks with the new format. Before the addition of the Evolution pack we were lucky to find one or two useful Trainer cards. Without Trainers it was hard to employ any kind of strategy and it came down to basically the luck of the draw. The new format is much more fun to play.

One thing I have noticed is that if you are lucky enough to pull an EX card in a prerelease (like I was this time) it can really give your deck a power advantage. Maybe they could include one random EX in each prerelease package and place a limit of one EX in prelease deck builds to even that out.

Any general suggestions for other parents?

Get in there and learn to play, it is much more fun to play with your kids than just to watch them play. Start off with a couple of premade theme decks in a causal play environment. There are some good “how to play” videos on YouTube. The Pokémon TCG Online application is also a great place to learn the game.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Unboxing the "Mailing out My Voice" single from Japan

The CD single for "Mailing out My Voice", the ending theme to the latest Pokemon movie in Japan, came in this week. Let's take a look and see what comes with it:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Interviews from Pokemon US Nationals 2016

During the recent Pokemon US Nationals in Columbus, OH, I had a chance to interview a few of the top players. First, we interviewed Wayland, winner of the Seniors division of the 2016 US Nationals Pokken Tournament competition. Find out why he uses Blaziken, and what his strategy was in the finals:


Steven: Hi, I’m Steven Reich, here at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio at the Pokémon US Nationals 2016. I’m here with Wayland, who is the winner in the Seniors division of the Pokkén Tournament event that they had here. So Wayland, first of all, where are you from?

Wayland: I am from Douglasville, Georgia.

Steven: So, you came all the way up here. And Pokkén has only been around a while, but you were involved in Pokémon before that. How did you get introduced to the Pokémon franchise?

Wayland: When I was younger, my little brother handed me a Game Boy. Once he finished his game, he was like, “Here, go play this.” It ended up being Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance. And ever since that, I love Pokémon.

Steven: You said the first video game-you’ve been playing video games since you were 3, and the first one you played was actually the Mario Baseball game on the Game Cube. So, you’ve been into video games for a very long time. So, you were pretty much interested in Pokkén pretty much right when it was announced. What was your reaction to the announcement of the game?

Wayland: Okay so, when they announced it in Japan for the first time, when they were showing the game play of it, I was surprised. I was like, “Is it coming to the US?” I was super excited, and it was really nice.

Steven: Yeah, it’s something different. We haven’t had a true Pokémon fighting game, and of course, now we do. So, the character you play is most of the time, in Pokkén, is Blaziken. What attracts you to that character? Why do you play as that for the most part?

Wayland: When I first played Sapphire, my starter Pokémon was Torchic. So, my favorite Pokémon is Blaziken. Well, it kind of grew on me. And when Pokkén came out, I remember my friend calling me at 3 o’clock saying there was an early access event. And I was like, “Is Blaziken on it?” And he was like, “I don’t know, man.” I’m like, “Come on!”

Steven: I could see the connection there. Absolutely. I’m sure a lot of the folks at home had maybe a similar experience with Smash Bros. or Pokkén, about whatever their first starter was, they want to be able to play with that in some of the side games. Alright. Well, let’s tell the folks at home about the finals then. You were paired against a guy. He used, over the course of it, two different Pokémon. He used some Lucario and also some Shadow Mewtwo. Let’s start with Blaziken vs. Lucario. What’s the things to watch out for in that type of match?

Wayland: If you’re going to win, for Blaziken, you’re going to have to use a lot of Flare Blitz to cut him off, because he has a lot of counter moves. You can counter break him. Lucarios love to counter. Another thing is you don’t have to really stay spaced, because really can’t space you out if you put him towards a wall. Once he’s in a wall, he’s kind of in a bad position. And when you have Burst against his Burst, you technically have a huge advantage.

Steven: And what about Shadow Mewtwo, the other character he used? What are the things to watch for there, and how did you react to it?

Wayland: When he switched to Shadow Mewtwo, I really wasn’t fazed. Most people would be fazed, but Shadow Mewtwo-people switch to Shadow Mewtwo when they want power. But his health is super low, so it takes only a few hits to take him out. And I have some counter piercers, some good moves. Everyone says since he goes to Burst faster and I go to Burst faster, it’s like, I better Burst pretty fast. I’m like, I have my Burst and it gives me a speed boost, so I’m already good.

Steven: Yeah. Speed, obviously, in any fighting game is extremely important. So, in Pokkén, you also get something called a Support Pokémon. I noticed you-I think you always chose Cresselia, which is a little bit of a healer. Is there a particular reason for that, other than, obviously, the healing? How do you decide when exactly to use that? Because you don’t necessarily want to use it right away when the meter fills up.

Wayland: Cresselia is only used once per turn, she summons fast, she gives a large health bonus, a large synergy bonus, and a large-it takes away negative status on you. So, my moves hurt myself. I hurt myself when I do my moves. When I hurt myself, it doesn’t take away my full bar, it takes away my green bar. So my darker shade of green is still there. That’s the health I can recover. So, when Cresselia is charged and I’ve used enough of her, and I have my Burst-if I know when I used her, my Burst will come out, I’ll just say I can use Cresselia, get my Burst and get all of that HP back that I already wasted.

Steven: There’s definitely a management aspect there that you have to keep any eye on, and think very quickly. That’s quite impressive. It sounds like Cresselia is a very interesting Assist Pokémon to use in this game. One more thing about Pokkén. For a while, we didn’t think there was going to be any DLC beyond the initial release. But it seems that recently there’s been some rumblings in Japan. Why don’t you tell us about that and what you’re hoping for.

Wayland: Japan’s official Pokkén tournament, they announced there’s going to be a new character on July 20th on the arcade version. But, we don’t know if it’s coming to America. Everyone’s hoping it would be Darkrai or another Legendary or Empoleon. But I feel like it’s going to be a different type of Pokémon. Because we have a fire type—I’m thinking it’s going to be a water type, because we don’t have any water types.

Steven: Well, we’ve got Suicune, but that’s about it. So, we don’t have any conventional bipedal ones. So maybe if they want to fill that void. Of course, I know some folks are still wishing there was a playable Hawlucha, ever since Pikachu Libre.

Wayland: Hawlucha, Hitmonchan. And I think that’s it.

Steven: So, we’ll have to see what happens. Hopefully, whatever does get revealed later this month does come to the console version. Alright. Well, thank you very much, Wayland. This has been Steven Reich from the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio at the Pokémon US Nationals 2016.

Transcript by

Second, we got a chance to interview Brady Bourgeois, winner of the TCG event in the Seniors Division. Brady used a Giratina/Seismitoad deck, with a few tweaks for this event:


Steven: I’m here with Brady Bourgeois, who is the winner of the TCG Seniors division at this year’s tournament. And Brady, we just have a few questions. First of all, where are you from?

Brady: I’m from St. Louis, Missouri.

Steven: So yep, we get people from all over the country. And what was the deck that you decided to play for this tournament?

Brady: Giratina-Seismitoad.

Steven: And what made you choose that particular deck for this tournament? Were you expecting a certain metagame? What went into the strategic choice there?

Brady: I knew there was going to be a lot of Night March and Vespiquen bees and Vespiquen. So, I decided that Giratina-Seismitoad would have amazing matchups against those. And it also had a good matchup for Mega Rayquaza, because of Giratina’s ability blocking Mega attacks. And it also had a good matchup against Mega Manectric. So, I knew it had good matchups most of the way around. It had a bad matchup to Greninja, which people thought was going to come. I thought I was going to hit a few Greninjas today, and might lose a few matches, and might get kicked out of the tournament.

Steven: Well, you certainly didn’t in the last couple rounds on your way to the championship, so that was pretty fortunate. Were there any fine tuning adjustments? Any specific cards you balanced out of the deck? Any adjustments you made there for this specific tournament?

Brady: I got rid of Hex Maniac and all the Super Scoop Ups and AZ and Garbodor, a two-one Garbodor line to block Abilities to further beat down Night March because of Mew, so that they can’t use Mew anymore, and I also have a better matchup against Greninja.

Steven: Yeah, being able to shut off abilities is obviously very important. Now obviously, your Giratina has one, but unless you’re playing against a Mega, you don’t have to worry about that too much. Alright, so you had your deck, you had your strategy there. Let’s go to the finals. You were on-stream for those, as well as the top 4, if people want to take a look at that. But let’s focus on the finals. You were pairing up against a deck that was playing Mega Manectric against Jolteon EX. So obviously, Giratina has a good matchup against that, just Jolteon EX is something to watch out for, isn’t it?

Brady: Yeah. You have to keep pressure on really early. And you have to use your Giratina to make sure that it can’t attach Double Colorless Energies so their Jolteon doesn’t get setup really fast. And you also try to use Crushing Hammers and Team Flare Grunt and other Items that discard energy to get rid of all of the energy on Jolteon until you can Lysandre it up twice and knock it out.

Steven: Yeah. Jolteon, because it had the attack that makes it temporarily invulnerable from Basics, is obviously a big problem. But, you work very effectively around that. Although, you did have some help in the finals. First of all, you hit heads very heads very consistently on the Crushing Hammers that you played to get rid of the Energy on your opponent’s side of the field. Even though earlier in the day, you had a streak in the top 4 where it just wasn’t coming for you. What’s it like with that card when you going from both the positive and the negative, how does that make you feel?

Brady: Well, when you hit a ton of tails, it just gets really annoying because your opponent gets a very big window to get back in the game in Energy. So, they might get a big attack off and knock out one of your main attackers, and it’s just annoying. It’s not fun. But when you get heads a ton of times, it helps you very in the long-run. Your opponent runs out of energy slowly. And, you’re also preventing them from attacking you.

Steven: Alright so, if folks have watched the finals stream, if folks at home have done that, then what they might have noticed is that during the finals match, there were a couple things that kind of got through for a little bit that shouldn’t have happened. Mainly on your opponent’s side. But, the first one happened, I think in game 1. He played a Rough Seas in order to get some damage off one of his Pokémon, even though you had used Giratina’s attack and he couldn’t play Stadiums. That was rewound fairly quickly. But, in the second game, there was a more major error. Your opponent actually had Parallel City out. And he had it pointed to him so that he could only have 3 on his Bench. And all of a sudden, he put more on, including a Shaymin. So, how did that all resolve out, and when did you realize that he had made a mistake?

Brady: I didn’t really notice it at first, because I usually have Parallel City pointed at me, because that’s the only Stadium I play in my decks. So, I’m used to having about 3 Pokémon on my Bench. And I didn’t notice it at the time, because it didn’t really matter. Actually, before they caught it, I was thinking about playing my own Parallel City in my favor to lock out his Parallel City. But, you can’t do that, actually now that I think about it. But, he got a major penalty, but it was only one Prize Card and it didn’t really affect the rest of the game. And they effectively just took the Shaymin, the cards he got from the Shaymin, and put them back on the top of the deck after showing me. It didn’t really affect the game too much, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Steven: It would be nice, obviously, if they had caught that a little bit sooner, before he had progressed and they could have at least gotten a warning instead of you getting a Prize for that. But, stuff like that does happen. And people can get a little nervous and move forward a little too quickly sometimes and that can happen. Alright. Well, of course, next month is Worlds in San Francisco. And there’s kind of a big question mark over this one because we have another set, Steam Siege, that comes out very early in August. And they’ve changed the legality rule so that it will be legal for Worlds. Do you have any opinion on that? Or, are you going to be planning anything out based on what happens with that set?

Brady: Not too much. I know I’m probably going to switch my deck from Giratina-Seismitoad to YZG or something else. But the reason why I don’t want to play Seismitoad anymore is because I think Night March is going to have a falling out with the new card that shuffles all Pokémon from both discard piles into the decks. So, Night March will not be played as much, which is one of my best matchups. So, I’m thinking about whether or not I want to play Giratina-Seismitoad or another deck.

Steven: Yeah, that’s the big question mark with Steam Siege. There’s a card coming out as a promo in Japan called Karen that is sort of a less broad Lysandre’s Trump Card, because it only shuffles Pokémon in. But, we’re not 100% sure if that’s going to come out in Steam Siege or somewhere separately, or it could even be a while. So, that’s the big question mark and we’ll know a lot more in a couple weeks. Alright. Well, thank you very much, Brady. This has been Steven Reich from the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio at the Pokémon US Nationals 2016.

Transcript by

Monday, June 20, 2016

Poke Press Interviews...Now on Cassette Tape?

Remember these? Yes, now you can listen to your favorite Poke Press interviews on that boom box you had back in the 90's!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

WTPT-Pokemon: The First Movie Soundtrack-Part 4 (Tracks 13-16)

In part four, the last set of tracks are discussed:

-Catch Me If You Can (Angela Via)
-(Have Some) Fun With The Funk (Aaron Carter)
-If Only Tears Could Bring You Back (Midnight Sons)
-Brother My Brother (Blessid Union of Souls)

These may be the last tracks, but the episode isn't over-stay tuned for part 5!

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for giving permission to upload this audio.

Monday, May 02, 2016

New Pokemon TCG Prerelease Format Review (w/Marriland)

Devin (a.k.a. "Marriland") and I give our thoughts on the new Pokemon TCG Prerelease format for the Fates Collide set:


Steven: Hi, I’m Steven Reich, here at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin at one of the Pokémon Trading Card Game Fates Collide prereleases. I’m here with Devin, or as you know him, Marriland. This is kind of a big prerelease in a way because they changed up the way they do things here. They’ve really changed how you get packs, how you build decks, and stuff like that quite a bit. So let’s go over first of all, Devin, let’s go over some of the changes they made.

So it used to be that you would get six packs. You build a 40-card deck with Basic Energy that’s provided and then you just play a couple rounds. This time it’s a little different. You get a little package. What’s in there?

Devin: I was rather surprised when I heard they’re going to be changing how prereleases are run and you’re right. Nowadays you get a little package starting with this prerelease and it’s random. Everyone will end up with a different pack of 22 cards in addition to four packs, rather than six booster packs in the newest set like older prereleases.

It has its pros and cons. I at first thought, ‘well, are there going to just be Commons in here? Are there going to be good cards?’ And I found out today actually and it’s interesting, I’m kind of mixed on it to be honest.

Steven: Yeah, I can see some good and bad points too. but yeah, you get four booster packs and then you get the special 22-card pack that has one of four prerelease promos and then going along with that promo they have a set of about 20 or so cards that include some Trainer cards, a couple of evolution lines and some other stuff to choose from. So do you know which of the four possible insert packs did you get for your 22-card part portion?

Devin: So I ended up getting the Tyranitar promo and I guess that I’m not entirely sure what all the different ones are. This is my first prerelease. I haven’t looked-the first of this new prerelease, I haven’t looked too much into the different starter kit kind of things but I ended up with the Fighting and Dark one. So I used Lucario and Hawlucha and Carbink and I had Mandibuzz and Tyranitar lines for that. And one thing I will say, I was actually pleased to see that there is a good selection of lines and it had some Trainers in it which was kind of nice, but the fact that there are four promo cards, that’s really interesting from a collector standpoint.

Steven: That is one of the things people were kind of worried about, that since there’s no way to tell what you’re going to get until you open it, which I guess keeps it somewhat fair in a way, but it also makes it difficult to potentially get the cards you want. Now the pack that I got in there was the White Kyurem pack which comes with a similar fighting Pokémon to yours. It doesn’t have Tyranitar, obviously, but it has the Carbink and the Lucario, but on the Water side it has the “barnacle” Evolution line. I can’t remember the exact name but they have that, plus some supporters, which I think is a big thing that-a big plus, actually, going into this is that in prerelease tournaments if you’re limited to whatever is in a set, the problem you can run into there is that each set will have a different group of Supporters and it may work out okay, or may not work out very well at all, but of course,which ones you get the number can determine a whole lot. So this kind of evens it out a little bit. What do you think about the trainer selection that came in the packs?

Devin: So I’ve been there at prereleases where I’ve had to build a deck with zero Supporter cards, no Trainers, no Supporters, nothing to help. It’s like, ‘really?’ and it was refreshing knowing hey, I have some options here. I have Shauna. I have Tierno. I have a few different things that could help. Obviously, I like I drew, or I pulled an N that was really helpful in the third game that I played, but it was just really nice knowing that hey, there is some good Trainers here that can at least help. It’s not like perfect stuff that’s you know-Professor Sycamores or really good Trainer cards, but it’s at least good for prereleases which I guess is nice. It solves the problem of not having any Supporter cards in a prerelease and I do like that decision.

Steven: Yeah, I think it definitely helps maintain the balance and one thing we’ve seen in previous tournaments that the folks at home might be aware of, is that you often run into cases once EXes started coming into the metagames that people would play like one of those and then 39 mostly Energies with maybe a few Trainers if they got some of those and I didn’t particularly enjoy playing against those too much. I did try to tech against them, but I think A, having Carbink, which is a Safeguarder in this set really helps, but I think the other changes did too.  Do you think that the additional cards that are more structured kind of helped make decks that are maybe less random or stilted?

Devin: So, I like it and I don’t like it, Why I like it is the fact that now everyone kind of has a base and you’re guaranteed to at least have something that will kind of work for a deck because I’ve played prereleases where I just have nothing and it’s just, it’s not going to happen. I played prereleases where I get that one good Pokémon EX and I just played 39 Energy or whatever and I like that it’s now accessible to anyone to have at least somewhat of a working deck.

However, what I don’t like about it, is it takes away a lot of that originality. I felt like pretty much everyone was playing whatever the starter kit that they had. They were playing that. Usually maybe one line, maybe both, and then like a few other cards here and there. You saw less of the really out there kind of combos or things that might work very well in a prerelease just because you already had a lot of good stuff, or things that wouldn’t work well and you give it a shot and it works out pretty good anyhow. I think I miss that from the old prereleases where you really don’t know what you’re going to get, whereas with this, I felt like you know probably about half your deck by the time you’ve just seen the first starter kit promo card.

Steven: Yeah, you know that’s definitely an effect. The cards you get in there since they are so related, Evolution lines, you can sort of sort of just default to that. Which I guess might be a good thing for a newer players, which is what prereleases have been targeted at so that they don’t have to maybe obsess as much about what cards to put in or just not be able to figure things out from the cards they they’re getting sometimes. So maybe that helps there, but I do also see the point you’re having of that can it also reduce variety to a point that it’s sort of everyone has the same food, it’s just what garnish they put on top. So maybe there’s a happier medium to be found. So based on that suggestion, or that criticism, do you have any ideas on maybe how they can tweak it?  Obviously, each set is going to be different, the opportunities there are going to be different, but maybe if they do keep going with this system, but they want to try and improve it for next time-any suggestions?

Devin: One of my initial concerns with how this is being done was the fact we’re getting one less pack than before. We’re essentially sacrificing a pack for this 22-card kind of starter kit. So as a player and a collector I was really concerned okay, is asking to be worth my money now? And currently, I feel like there’s not quite enough of a value there. Like I wish I would have had that extra pack rather than the 22-card thing and I wish I didn’t say that. I think it made the prerelease maybe a little bit more enjoyable but then afterwards I look and I think, well, none of this really helps. I didn’t get anything good in my four packs so…and also a lot of the cards you get in the 22 well, everyone has these cards, so if you pull one normally in the set, it’s just not quite as good. I think they’re on the right track with that. I like it better than I thought I would. I was originally rather hostile to the idea, but I figure I would give it a shot and I liked it and I’ll definitely crave more of it if they’ll refine it a bit more so than we have just maybe better cards in the 22, or maybe like six options.

I don’t like the promos though. The fact that there’s four, I wish that it’d be two or maybe three. I feel like four is just too much from a collecting standpoint and it makes that just a little too random.

Steven: Yeah, I’m guessing from a packaging scenario that it was easier to have four promo cards cause there were four pack. I mean obviously, they could do two in four or two in eight. I think that might not be a bad idea if they want to continue to feature more of the set. They can try and pick out a different number, maybe six or eight different sets of cards so you are seeing more even though you’re still getting a set that’s very organized like that. Like I said, what they’re trying to do here is sort of maybe not make things quite as random, but still expose you to a larger portion of the set.

Transcript by

Saturday, April 23, 2016

WTPT-Pokemon: The First Movie Soundtrack-Part 3 (Tracks 7-12) + Get Happy on Digital

In our third part, we go over tracks 7-12 on the album:

-Get Happy (B*Witched)
-(Hey You) Free Up Your Mind (Emma Bunton)
-Fly With Me (98 Degrees)
-Lullaby (Mandah)
-Vacation (Vitamin C)
-Makin' My Way (Any Way That I Can) (Billie Piper)

As noted in the video, a few months ago B*Witched's "Get Happy" finally became available digitally via the "C'est la Vie: The Collection" compilation. This album is available on iTunes, as well as Amazon MP3 and Google Play, and the track is available for individual purchase.

Monday, April 18, 2016

My Record Store Day 2016 Pickups

This was my first time going to Record Store Day, so I decided to pick up a variety of things. I was also fortunate enough to get something extra that's tied to the Madison area's musical history:

Record Store Day web site
Cassette Store Day web site

Monday, April 11, 2016

My Vinyl Pokemon Music Collection

The recent unofficial game soundtrack isn't the first from the franchise to be pressed. In fact, a number of early tracks were released on the format:

As mentioned in the video, this year's Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 16th. You can find out more about it at their official website.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pokémon VGC Midseason Showdown-Janesville, WI

Stephen Morioka
The following is an interview with Stephen Morioka, winner of the Masters Division at a 2016 Pokémon VGC Midseason Showdown in Janesville, WI.

Where are you from, and how did you get into competitive Pokémon (and Pokémon in general)?

I am from Chicago, Illinois and I am a longtime Pokémon player. My relatives in Texas gave me a Game Boy Pocket and Pokémon Blue Version as a parting gift during my family’s summer vacation in 1999. I have played through every generation, even when Pokémon’s popularity was declining in the early 2000s.

Nintendo Power magazine is what I credit for entering me into the competitive Pokémon scene. In the winter of 2005, there was a one or two-page spread advertising qualifier tests that funneled into a Pokémon tournament celebrating the release of Pokémon Emerald. I managed to make it all the way to the tournament, which was single battle, later that spring. I didn’t win it but from the other players there I learned a lot about many of the hidden features Pokémon has to offer, such as effort values. Knowing that I could improve my training, I was always on the lookout for future competitions after that tournament. My search led me to the Journey Across America (JAA) in 2006 and VGC’s first official season in 2009.

What was the team you used for this event?

It was a spin of Wolfe Glick’s Winter Regional 1st place team. While the team normally consists of Primal Kyogre, Dialga, Mega Salamence, Ferrothorn, Thundurus and Landorus-Therian, I used Mega Gengar instead of Landorus.

Why did you choose the Pokémon you did?

Several members of the team are very good checks to the common Pokémon in the 2016 format. To provide some basic examples, Salamence does well against Groudon, Ferrothorn does well against Kyogre, and Dialga does well against opposing dragons such as Salamence and Rayquaza. The team also has several options for speed control, such as Thunder Wave, Tailwind, and Trick Room, which is an important part of any VGC format. As for Mega Gengar, I selected it over Landorus simply due to personal preference-I wasn’t really comfortable with the way Landorus was played on the team despite its incredible synergy. On the other hand, I have been using Gengar for a good majority of this format, so I went with what I knew how to play. Gengar is quite useful against teams built around Xerneas and simplifies the game a little with its Shadow Tag ability.

Were there any particular matches that stood out in your mind?

I would have to say the quarterfinals against Calvin Chan, in part because we have a long history. Back in 2006, we actually played in the Chicago Regional for JAA in the round of 8 or 16-I can’t remember exactly. Regardless, Calvin won and ended up playing in the finals for both that regional and the national championship later that summer in New York City. He was somewhat of an idol to me growing up, so it is always an honor to play against him.

For this tournament, both our Swiss round and Top 8 matches were extremely tight, 3-game sets. I lost game 1 in both series, and lost the match in Swiss, but was fortunate enough to come back from that deficit in the Top 8 match.

If you used a team similar to this again, is there anything you might change?

I would actually consider using Landorus instead of Mega Gengar as was originally intended. The rest of the team is a very solid core so reconfiguring that doesn’t really make sense to me. However, minor adjustments can always be made to suit a player’s personal playstyle.

What are your thoughts on the new VGC format?

I enjoy the 2016 VGC format, but a majority of the community probably doesn’t share that sentiment. The general complaints consist of too many luck factors outside of players’ control and strong centralization around a select group of Pokémon. I have been playing competitively for a long time and those issues have arisen every year to varying degrees. I simply brush them aside because I’m used to it and well hey, it’s Pokémon. Another important thing I don’t think players realize is how special this format is. This format allows for two restricted Pokémon to be on your team from a group of 15, such as Mewtwo, Groudon, and Kyogre. Normally, since they are so overpowered compared to other Pokémon, they are always sitting on the sidelines because they are not allowed to play in official formats. This year is only the 3rd time I’ve been able to use these Pokémon in a double battle format (the last two being in 2006 and 2010), so I am appreciating every second of this format because who knows, it may be another four to six years until we see these Pokémon in competitive play again.

Any advice for other players?

First, I strongly recommend watching the YouTube channels created by accomplished players Aaron Zheng, Markus Stadter, and Wolfe Glick. All three of them are repeat National Champions, provide high quality content, and are generously using their own time to entertain and more importantly to educate the VGC player base, both old and new. Also, I think for beginners it’s important to stay positive and not get easily discouraged if success eludes you early on. Pokémon players also need to be self-critical about their play, which many struggle to do. To elaborate, I tend to be very hard on myself when I make mistakes and accept the luck factors for what they are. Lastly, be sure you are playing Pokémon for the right reasons: Play because the game is fun for you. Play because you enjoy the people you are around when you compete. Play for the love of the game.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Pokemon TCG WI States 2016-Masters Top 8 Interview

Justin Alford
The following is an interview with Justin Alford, one of the top 8 finishers in the Masters division of this year’s Pokémon TCG Wisconsin State Championships. Justin’s deck focused on Giratina EX, but had a few additional twists.

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

I am from South St. Paul, Minnesota and have lived in that area my entire life. I got into the Pokémon TCG when it first came to America, but to me that doesn’t really count, because sometime soon after the Gym Heroes/Gym Challenge sets I stopped collecting the cards, and I didn’t play with very many people back then either. I regained my interest during the autumn of 2014 thanks to two key factors: My neighbor Dallas and a relatively new local game store called Level-Up Games. Level-Up had been hosting Pokémon TCG tournaments on their own for a while and my neighbor had been participating in them for some time. One day I made my first stop into the store and decided to buy some packs just to see what they were like now compared to a decade or so ago. I saw some cool things that sparked my curiosity and eventually asked Dallas for help constructing a new deck and getting information on how decks are built nowadays. After that, I went to nearly every tournament Level-Up has hosted and personally, I think I do pretty well.

What’s the basic strategy of your deck, and why did you choose this deck for this tournament? 

The deck I ran in this tournament uses the Fairy Transfer Ability from Aromatisse (XY) and Giratina EX (AOR) with Double Dragon and Fairy Energies. Double Dragons are considered any type of energy as long as they are attached to a Dragon-Type Pokémon, so I can transfer Double Dragons to other Giratina on my bench when my Active is hurt or in danger of being KO’d, then I can use AZ to remove the damaged Pokémon and resume attacking with a fresh card. There’s also the various locks that Giratina does to the opponent: Preventing Mega-Evolution damage with his Renegade Pulse ability limits some potential threats, and Chaos Wheel locks the opponent out of playing Tools, Special Energy, and Stadiums for one turn, a potentially crippling scenario for my opponent (I’m looking at you, Night Marchers).

If for some reason Giratina isn’t working out, Mega Mewtwo EX with Psychic Infinity is there to also take out threats, punishing high energy-using opponents. The result is a well-rounded, tightly built, versatile deck that can go first or second and still come out on top.

What are some of the other important cards in the deck?

While Fairy Transfer by itself is pretty good, kickstarting it with Xerneas’s Geomancy (XY) is crucial so I have plenty of energy to play with early on. A combo of Level Balls and Ultra Balls help ensure access to turn two Fairy Transfer which in turn helps ensure I can attack. For Pokémon Tools, since Giratina and Xerneas both have an attack that does 100 damage, I added Fighting Fury Belts for an extra ten to get KO’s on Shaymin EX. The extra HP also helps prevent potential one-hit KO’s from Night March, or even help in mirror matches (I had a friend in the tournament who played a similar deck). I also threw in Ace Trainer with the idea that I will usually lose a Pokémon to my opponent before my strategy to lock their hand takes effect (a well-timed Ace Trainer cripples their options even more when combined with Chaos Wheel). For Stadiums, Fairy Garden is almost a no-brainer in a deck that runs Fairy Transfer-after all, who doesn’t like free retreat? One more card that helps cover more bases is Hydreigon EX (ROS), whose Shred attack counters any Jirachi using Stardust, Regice’s Resistance Blizzard, or even Aegislash EX. You have staple Supporters (Sycamore, Birch, Lysandre) as well, so Trainers’ Mail helps when looking for the right card at the right moment. Also, while most decks run multiple, I’ve found I only need a single Shaymin EX to make that first turn successful while keeping that bench open for your battle-ready reserves.

What worked for the deck?

It’s very rare that I face a deck that doesn’t have some form of Special Energy, and this tournament was no different. With the love (or hate depending on who you ask) for Night March and Seismitoad , Double Colorless is very common. Those aren’t the only ones, though-I ran into Mega Manectric decks twice and as soon as my opponents saw Giratina they were forced to either sacrifice damage or energy reuse.

One of the harder matchups I was able to beat was YZG (Yveltal-Zoroark-Gallade). This was a difficult game because Yveltal EX destroys a fully-powered Giratina while the opposite is much harder to accomplish. In that match, I used Mega Mewtwo to take care of an issue that Giratina could not.

What didnt work, and would you make any changes if you used this deck again?

In the two rounds I lost in this tournament, my opponents utilized a similar tactic-energy removal. Whether it was hammers, Xerosic, or Team Flare Grunt, I found myself losing because I was out of energy. This is the only thing I fear when I play with this deck, but in most cases I feel like I can overcome this as long as I get the early game Energy lead with Geomancy. For that reason, I still see no reason to change this deck, at least until the next set rotation, and even then I’ll keep this one intact for a long while for Expanded play.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

WTPT-Pokemon: The First Movie Soundtrack-Part 2 (Tracks 1-6)

Our discussion of the Pokemon: The First Movie pop soundtrack continues with the first six tracks on the album:

-Pokemon Theme (Billy Crawford)
-Don't Say You Love Me (M2M)
-It Was You (Ashley Ballard + So Plush)
-We're A Miracle (Christina Aguilera)
-Soda Pop (Britney Spears)
-Somewhere, Someday (*NSYNC)

Like in part 1, there are a number of added notes in this video.

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for giving permission to upload this audio.

Friday, April 01, 2016

2.B.A. Master, Pokemon: The First Movie pop soundtrack to be re-released on cassette, vinyl

In a press release sent out this morning, The Pokemon Company International announced that 2.B.A. Master and the pop soundtrack to Pokemon: The First Movie will be re-issued on audio cassette, and for the first time ever, vinyl record. Both albums will be released on June 28th for $19.99 each on LP and $12.99 each on tape.

"After the success of Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions, we decided to explore more avenues for music-related Pokemon products," a representative for The Pokemon Company International stated. "With the recent revival of records and tapes, we thought it would be a great opportunity to put something out for the 20th anniversary celebration."

Pre-orders are scheduled to begin on April 11th. The TPCI representative declined to indicate how many units of each format would be available.

Monday, March 28, 2016

WTPT-Pokemon: The First Movie Soundtrack-Part 1 (News + Album Overview)

Back in 2010, I recorded an episode of the WTPT podcast discussing the Pokemon: The First Movie pop soundtrack. In the first part, we discuss some of the (then) recent Pokemon news, and give an overview of the album:

In addition to the podcast audio, I've added a number of updates and other information that will appear periodically through the video.

Special thanks to Jowy Romano for giving permission to upload this audio.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What Mario Maker tells us about music discovery-and how we interact with music

So, this weekend I was exploring some possible topics, and I ended up doing a couple of things, including checking out the recently released Rhapsody player for Wii U-which, by the way, in addition to a “not-great” search functionality, has a few issues in its UI. While I wasn’t especially pleased with the experience, my dissatisfaction with the application did give me some insight and led me to think about another product that I consider quite good: Mario Maker. Now, Mario Maker has very limited search capabilities as well, but for some reason it gets away with it, and I think that’s because of a few key differences between music and Mario levels.

The first thing is that the mediums are very different. Music is a mostly linear audio product, whereas Mario levels are an interactive experience with audio and video. This affects a number of aspects, most notably the ways in which the items can be browsed. In a musical search, I can basically look for songs based on an artist, genre, track name, or album name, but that’s about it, and if I need to know more about a track (for example, to find if it’s a cover of another track with the same title), I pretty much just have to listen to it. With Mario Maker’s Course World, while there is no text-based searching option, I can scroll through levels to find levels that look good based on a small preview image, completion rate, stars awarded by other players, and more.

Another important distinction is that the way the content is being consumed is different. In Mario Maker, the content is fairly disposable-even if a level is really good, I’m probably not going to play it more than once or twice before moving on. In music, there are really two different consumption modes-one is finding music you know you already like, and the other is finding music that is new or at least new to you. Digital music services have historically done the first case reasonably well, but struggled with the second. Mario Maker is more analogous to the second case, so the question is why does this work there? Well, going back to the browsing aspect, besides the previously mentioned level information, one other aspect that really helps in level discovery is the ability to restrict results to recently created levels. Digital music services will generally have a front page with featured new major releases, but finding anything deeper is very difficult.

Based on this information, it seems like a music search with date filtering and detailed per-track evaluation and interaction would work well, and as you may already be thinking, such a service does exist. YouTube, despite being billed as a destination for visual content, has become the de facto destination for finding music, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to being able to find old and new songs quite easily (tags and description text really help), users can share thoughts on individual tracks (much like leaving comments on a Mario Maker stage). Personally, I love reading what folks have to say about each tune, and it really makes the experience richer in a way that digital services haven’t been able to match.

So, can a music service adopt this style? Sure, it’s just that for the most part, these services are still organized with albums in mind, which also drives their interaction model. Shaking free from that won’t remove all their disadvantages, but I think it will help them compete. We live in an age where consumers expect to be able to share their thoughts on creative works, and it’s not surprising that the service with the best tools has been the most successful.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mark Chait ("The Power of One" Co-Writer) Interview-Part 3

In the last part of our interview with Mark Chait (co-writer of "The Power of One" by Donna Summer), we talk about his work composing music in China for movies, TV, and even locations:

Mark's web site


Steven: Alright. Well, since you did that song, you’ve had quite a long career after that. In fact, currently, you’re actually working in China. How did that come about?

Mark: Well, 3-and-a-half years ago, I was invited to score a live-you can call it a musical, but it was actually the largest multimedia event in the world. It was called Illusions [and was] just outside of Shanghai. And they had 5 composers who failed at doing the task, because the whole show was told through music. There wasn’t any language. It was a very big task. They had 5 Chinese composers who wrote Chinese music. And what they really needed was Lord of the Rings 400-piece orchestra and choir kind of thing. They had invested an enormous amount of money-much more than we would ever spend in this country-to create a show that would be on the world stage with actors from all over the world. And when they came to Los Angeles to find composers, I met the chairman and he fell in love with my film score and music. Because, it was kind of what they were looking for. It was very epic. A lot of my film scores have that epic sound with full orchestration, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Choir. And that’s what ended up happening. This show took a year and a half to build. The CGI film took four years to make. This was basically a show on an enormous stage that was built for us with 180 degree screens, 8 stories high. And in front of it, were 60 actors. Some of them being Cirque du Soleil and part of the New York Ballet. And that put me on the map in China. Since I successfully completed the mission of doing a musical of such stature, I was approached by a wonderful organization where they have a collection of masters from around the world in their field, and they are partners to help better and further the creation and the understanding of Chinese composers.

Steven: What else do you like about China, besides getting an opportunity to work on music there? What’s the country like for those of us who haven’t been there?

Mark: It’s mostly surprising for everybody who’s never been there. I’ve been there for 4 years. But it’s not that I’m there full time. I’m still based in California, in Los Angeles. And I have a studio in both Los Angeles and Shanghai. What we love about China is that they are open to experimenting. The process was much more different than it is here. Here, we spend years and years planning things. There, they spend a couple of months planning things and than put it into action and see how it turns out. And for any artist, I think it’s a wonderful thing to be in the sand pits of experimentation. There are amazing people that I have become connected with in the film industry-actually, in all industries-who are all part of the same consortium that we are. It’s actually called DeTao [pronounced “De-Dao”] , which means “The Way”. It’s almost like an enormous think tank of world leaders coming together that creates something new. I think it’s wonderful. The other thing that I’m going to say will surprise most people. Living in Shanghai is like living Paris or New York on steroids. It is nothing really Chinese about it, although it is China. And it was actually the area that I live in is called the Former French Concession, and it was built by the French. So, in essence, living in Shanghai is much more enjoyable in many ways than living in other parts of the world.

Steven: That’s really neat. What’s some of the other stuff you’ve worked on recently in either place?

Mark: Many things. One of the things I got to really explore is that I am a concert pianist. And I just have a new sponsorship by Bösendorfer. One of the things we’re doing is we’re doing piano performances around Asia, which is usually accompanied by the films I have scored. And it makes for an interesting new platform of performance. So, we’re doing that. I’m also writing, getting involved with films and television series in China. That’s an exciting thing. And the great thing about working in China is not only am I scoring for film, I’m scoring for provinces and scoring for cities. I was asked by the mayor of Shanghai to write the soundtrack for Shanghai. That’s been a year long project. I just recently scored the Zhejiang province, which is a very wealthy province in China. The capital of it is called Hangzhou, and it’s on a beautiful lake. The G8 Summit [Editor's Note: Actually the G20 summit] is going to be there. So, the government officials came to me and they asked our studio in China, called Studio Chait, to come up with the DNA, the brand of music, that depicts what they are and how they’re represented to the world. This is a very large project because it involves many people and statistics and research. So, scoring locations and cities and provinces is sort of like scoring the Olympic Games for me.

Steven: In what way?

Mark: Because it’s scoring the emotion that comes out of an event. How do you feel when you go to Shanghai? What is the essence of the Zhejiang province? And because I’m good at encapsulating a 4 minute song to tell you the emotion of a one and a half hour film, it’s a good strand of DNA that goes through everything that is associated with it. In essence, it’s what we call music branding.

Steven: Neat. And you mentioned you have a studio-type establishment that you do work from. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that? And it has website, doesn’t it?

Mark: Yes, it does. Actually, if you go to my website, which is, there is a link to the Chinese studio as well. The easiest way to see what’s going on in China is to Google my name, Mark Chait, then put the word China in. Then, all the Chinese websites come up in respect to what we're doing in China. It’s really fascinating. Our organization is called DeTao, which means ‘The Way’. We have a staff, we have full scoring facilities, and we just did our official launch-opening up the studio-at end of July 2015. It’s almost like a full music studio/film scoring/sound design studio, and we are a full music solutions studio. So, if someone wanted to do a film and they want to have music and sound effects and sound design and all of the above, we fulfill those needs. That’s kind of the way of the future.

Steven: Fantastic. I really love that. Do you have any social media accounts you want to plug here? Why don’t you do that?

Mark: The social media accounts that we have are on something that I’m not sure your listeners can get onto. It’s called WeChat. It’s the Facebook of China, but it’s actually got every application combined. Most of our social media is on that. But also, I’m going to start adding things to YouTube. The best way for my social media is through my website, which is

Steven: Sounds good. Been great having you on. We’ve learned some fantastic things. Not just about Pokémon, but also about how the world of music is evolving. Thank you very much, Mark.

Mark: You’re very welcome.

Steven: This has been Steven Reich from the Poke Press studios in Madison, Wisconsin, on the phone with Mark Chait, co-writer of “The Power of One” song from the second Pokémon movie.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mark Chait ("The Power of One" Co-Writer) Interview-Part 2

In the second part of our interview with Mark Chait (co-writer of "The Power of One" by Donna Summer), we talk about the song's production and its legacy. Is Herman Cain mentioned? Probably.

In the next part, we'll go over what Mark has done since this song (Hint: A lot).

Mark's web site


Steven: Nice. So, let’s move on to “The Power of One”. Do you know, how did you get chosen to work on this project?

Mark: I had met the head of music at Warner Brothers at the time. He still is, actually. And a very nice man who was a fan of my music. And he said, “We’re doing this Pokémon, do you want to have a look at the film and see if you can come up with an idea?” And I did. And then, I invited Merv Warren to join me in co-writing the song. Basically, that’s how it got started.

Steven: What was the writing process like? Did it come together quickly? Did it take a lot of time? How did that come about?

Mark: The first draft came about pretty quickly, like they always do. If you’re a musician and an artist, you understand. These things come quickly. And then, there was a lot of time involved in changing things and producers involved. The lyrics, I would say, was much harder than the music. The music took about 2 weeks to come together. But then, we had to actually find the correct lyrics that matched the movie. That was about a 3 week to a month process. It was a very pain staking process to get that correct. I loved working with Merv Warren. He’s a fantastic songwriter. We really enjoyed the process. I think that’s the key to writing a hit song.

Steven: Definitely made quite an impact.  Very memorable. Are there any particular lyrics that you’re particularly proud of, or have an interesting story behind them?

Mark: Well, the obvious one is the one that everyone talked about with Herman Cain. It inspired a lot of people in avenues that I never thought was even possible. The opening four lines, I think, are the ones that are mostly used, even to this day. “Life can be a challenge/Life can seem impossible/It’s never easy/when so much is on the line.” I think those lines pretty much say a lot.

Steven: Absolutely. Anyone can relate to that. We’ve all had times in our lives that are like that. You did mention, of course, Herman Cain. For those who aren’t aware, about 4 years ago, he was a politician running for US President. He sort of misattributed your song. He thought it was from the Summer Olympics and didn’t realize it was actually a Donna Summer song. First of all, how did you find out that that happened, and what was your reaction there?

Mark: It was very easy to find out, because it was all over the press all over the world. To be honest, it was at the Olympics, but it wasn’t part of the Olympics. NBC would cover the Americans during the Summer Olympics and at the end of every day, they would have the outtakes of all the events that occurred during the Olympic games. And, the song was perfect for covering that. The song was used many times by NBC to cover the Summer Olympics. It wasn’t the official song of the Olympic Games, but the confusion was pretty easy to make.

Steven: Was it funny when it happened? Did it make you feel like you had created something that was really memorable?

Mark: As any artist would tell you, any artist would be delighted that anyone would be talking about their work. Negative or positive, that’s not for me to say. But the fact that it inspired a conversation on the level for the Presidency of the United States, it tickled me pink. It really created a very warm feeling in me that somebody would use something that we created to further their career and use it as an example of, I think, the courage within themselves. So, any time anyone uses a song, it’s always wonderful. I had a similar experience with Hillary Clinton when she was at a dinner in New York for the Democrats. They chose my song, “The Power of One” and I got to perform it actually, with a wonderful singer from Broadway, Lillias White. And the same thing, it sparked a whole conversation. At the end of the performance, Hillary Clinton walked on stage, smiled, grabbed my arm and said, “Mark’s already summed up my entire speech in that song. So, any time anyone uses a song for that purpose, that you create as an artist, it’s a wonderful thing.

Steven: Just to clarify, that thing with Hillary Clinton, was that before or after the Herman Cain thing?

Mark: That was before. It was before, yes.

Steven: That is absolutely fascinating. I love hearing that type of story. You’ve really shed a lot of light. We knew a fair bit about it, but you’ve really put in some interesting details. Really glad to have that.

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Additional information for this video comes from the Wikipedia pages for Mervyn Warren and Lillias White.