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.