Welcome to Season Three-ie of Chapter Select! Strap on your backpack, work on your rhyming schemes, and prepare to nab a lot of collectibles because this season revolves around Banjo-Kazooie. Max Roberts, Logan Moore, and special guest Michael Koczwara climb up Spiral Mountain to face the green witch and all her cronies. If Microsoft won’t give the Bear and the Bird a proper three-quel, we will (…talk about them).
Logan and I are thrilled to be exploring the Banjo-Kazooie series for the third season of Chapter Select. It’s been a long time coming, but it is still a shorter turn around than a proper Banjo-Tooie sequel.
As for this season’s slate of episodes, here is the order we have for Season 3:
Episode 1 – Banjo-Kazooie (Nintendo 64), releasing on May 18, 2022 with special guest Michale Koczwara.
Episode 2 – Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (Xbox 360), releasing on June 1, 2022 with special guest Michael Ruiz.
Episode 3 – Banjo-Tooie (Nintendo 64), releasing on June 15, 2022 with special guest Brian Henken.
Episode 4 – Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge (Gameboy Advance), releasing on June 29, 2022.
This season has the highest ratio of guests to episodes so far in the show’s history. While tied with Season 1 – Paper Mario with three guests, there’s more variety to go around this season. We are stoked for the voices you’ll hear alongside Logan’s and my own as we explore Banjo-Kazooie.
The art this season was a challenge for me. I’ll save the deep dive for the “look back” post when Season 3 wraps up, but I was heavily inspired by my own Wiki Stories and the recent emoji kick I have been on. It’s like I just discovered the variety emoji have. 👀 Finding the font designed by Oakland Elliff gave the art the final push it needed.
The teaser we released is one of my favorite ideas come to life. It would not have been possible without the technical prowess and knowhow of Michael Koczwara. I am eternally in his debt for bringing my whacky idea to life.
I hope you are as excited for Season 3: Banjo-Kazooie as I am. The first episode will be launching next Wednesday, with new episodes following in a fortnightly manner. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts!
The Season 2 finale takes our hero Kratos to an entirely new realm. After nearly 15 years, Sony Santa Monica Studio attempted to prove both the God of War franchise and the studio itself could change. Max and Logan examine this pivotal title to find out if change is for the better.
The end of the Greek Pantheon is finally here. Kratos brings Mt. Olympus crumbling down as he extracts his revenge on his father, Zeus. Max and Logan rip through Sony Santa Monica’s version of Greece one final time to discuss where Kratos’ journey has taken him and see where he was left before entering the realm of Midgard.
We head back to Ready at Dawn’s original attempt at putting the power of Olympus on the PSP. Developed alongside God of War II, Kratos’ first prequel feels more like a traditional sequel. Max and Logan decide whether or not putting God of War on the go was a killer idea or just beating a dead centaur.
For the first time in the series, Kratos is on a journey for salvation rather than vengeance. Released just eight months after God of War III, the Marked Warrior returned to the PlayStation Portable in grand fashion. Max and Logan sink the city of Atlantis to find out if Kratos can save his family before he seeks revenge.
With a new director at the helm, God of War II helped end the PS2 on a high note with the promise of an epic conclusion on Sony’s brand new PS3. Special guest Grant Huff joins Max and Logan to find the edge of the world and challenge fate itself.
The God of War franchise enters the proverbial Colosseum with its multiplayer debut. God of War: Ascension was one of the PlayStation 3’s swan songs and it could have been the same for Kratos. Max Roberts and Logan Moore go back in time to 2013 to try and figure out what happened to the Ghost of Sparta.
Season 2 sets a course through the myth of ancient Greece with God of War. Max Roberts and Logan Moore travel back to God of War, not to be confused with 2018’s God of War. Has Kratos changed all that much since 2005? Does the quest for vengeance hold up?
I am excited to announce that the focus of Chapter Select Season 2 is the God of War series. First appearing on the PlayStation 2 in 2005, God of War, Kratos, and the Blades of Chaos are still a proud titan within the PlayStation Studios catalog. God of War has arguably never been more relevant than with the upcoming ninth game, God of War: Ragnarok for PS4 and PS5, thanks to the series’ legendary relaunch in 2018.
You may have noticed a new link in the middle there — YouTube. I have decided to create a video version of Chapter Select going forward. I have to play the games anyway, why not capture them as I go along? I was actually recording gameplay of Season 1, Episode 1: Paper Mario, but lost some footage and then never picked it back up after a brief pause in production. Recording Sticker Star would have been tricky too. Thankfully, I have the means to capture all of the God of War games. You won’t see our faces: This allows me to use the same audio edit without odd cuts in the video. The gameplay will be what I actually did for the season, along with additional relevant clips woven in. I am very excited for folks to watch and listen to the show going forward.
As for this season’s slate of episodes, here is the order we have for Season 2:
“Why is God of War (2018) at the end of the season?” you may be asking yourself. We delve into this in the first episode, but Logan convinced me to go about Season 2 this way. Since the reboot/reimagining of God of War is so stark to the first six games, we agreed it’d be best to save the Norse iteration for the end. Plus, when God of War: Ragnarok comes out in 2022 (🤞🏻), we have a nice line-up throw in a new episode to the season.
As far as the seasonal and episodic art, I spent a ton of energy finding real pictures that fit the themes and environments or each game. Nearly every photo was found on Unsplash and is properly credited in the show notes. Like Season 1’s art, I have taken immense pride in the theming and visual design you’ll find in Season 2.
I hope you are as excited for Season 2: God of War as I am. The first two episodes will be launching next Wednesday, with new episodes following in a fortnightly manner. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts!
It feels great to finish one season of this idea I’ve had for over three years. Playing the games and making the podcast has been my creative highlight of the year so far. I haven’t been this excited about podcasting before and I am really looking forward to the future of the show.
Here at the end of Season 1, I wanted to share my thoughts about how the season went, some behind-the-scenes, as well as some insight to the show’s future.
The format of the show was, I think, a great success. While I can’t speak to the audience’s reaction beyond sheer numbers, I can attest to how it influenced discussion. The best example I can point to is Episodes 4-6 (Color Splash, Super Paper Mario, and Sticker Star). Talk with any Paper Mario fan and it won’t take long to learn that Super is different/weird and that Sticker Star and Color Splash are a real similar pair of frowned upon games.
Playing Super after Color Splash gave me appreciation for the whacky Wii game I don’t think I would have gotten playing in release order. It felt truly refreshing after two classic games and two modern incarnations. Then whipping back around to play Sticker Star gave me the context for why Nintendo pivoted so hard into the no fluff narrative and sticker-based gameplay. It also made me appreciate what worked in Sticker Star and wonder how Color Splash took, what I consider, wrong turns in its design.
I was thinking about and engaging in these games in a way I never would have previously. And I think it was for the better of myself, the games, and the show over all.
Speaking of numbers, over the course of two months and some change, Chapter Select had over 393 unique downloads and stream when looking across Libsyn, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. I am super happy with that! This was also before Episode 6: Paper Mario: Sticker Star was even published. That was all with promotion on our Twitter accounts and occasionally sharing in the Relay FM Discord channel.
The craziest (and most confounding number) was the downloads on the cross-promotional episode I put in the Chasing the Stick: The History of Naughty Dog podcast feed. As of this writing, that episode is over 20,000 downloads. I wish that translated to the Chapter Select feed! Logan and I have no idea why the downloads are so high.
A big lesson we learned was the types of games we choose for each season. Our current goal is two seasons a year: That feels like like an achievable goal. Properly kicking it all off with a series of 20~ hour RPGs probably wasn’t the best idea. Our next season has been planned to focus on a shorter game series, in regards to play time. We realized that we ought to work on longer games and/or series throughout the year, banking episodes and keeping that season for the back half of the year. As for the front half of a year, that can be a season focusing on a shorter series, whether in game quantity or actual game length. You will definitely see that approach taken for seasons 3 and 4.
Speaking of which, we do have season 2 and 3 picked out already! I am quite eager to get to playing them. Especially Season 2 after 145+ hours with Paper Mario; the pivot in gameplay is gonna be great. We have a loose schedule in place for all of this. We will announce Season 2 when it is a bit closer, which should hopefully be in the coming months. We do plan on taking at least August and September off from releasing anything new.
As far as releasing the episodes in Season 1, I have to admit that I didn’t think we could keep the two week release schedule up for the whole season. When we started publishing Season 1 on June 2, 2021, we only had three episodes in the bag. We were in the middle of playing Color Splash! Logan definitely encouraged these last three games to stick to the calendar. The two weeks gave us enough cushion to finish out the season while the episodes were being released.
The wider window also gave me plenty of time to edit the show and really give it my best. I wanted to really leverage the audio podcast medium with a tight edit and rich audio. I put Easter Eggs in the episodes, whether it was clips or secret chapter art (if your podcast player supports it). Episodes 3 and 5 have my favorites.
The show was remarkably consistent as well. Over half the episodes sit right in between 70 and 80 minutes, giving listeners a consistent length that, I think, is quite listenable/achievable to finish. I am curious how that window of time will hold up in the coming seasons.
I’ve said it before, but I truly have not had this much fun creating a podcast before. From playing the games to recording the show to writing show notes, I have had a blast. This project feels focused and sustainable. I am really trying to keep ambitions in check. Thankfully, Logan helps with that. I couldn’t (as always) ask for a better partner in all this. I cannot wait to announce and share Season 2. If you listened, I hope you enjoyed Season 1 – Paper Mario!
The Season 1 finale has our hosts play through the Paper Mario game that changed everything. Max and Logan peel back the sticky layers of the Nintendo 3DS exclusive Paper Mario: Sticker Star to get a grasp on the influence of Shigeru Miyamoto. How has this portable game defined the franchise for the last decade?
In a wholly unique adventure, Super Paper Mario takes our 2D super star and brings him into a 3D world. Max, Logan, and special guest Ricky Frech boot up SWOON.EXE and see if the wiles of Super Paper Mario can truly charm them. How does this one-off puzzle platformer fit into the collage that is Paper Mario?
The Wii U wasn’t really making a splash back in 2016. Max, Logan, and special guest Tomas Franzese bust out their decks of cards and paint palettes to examine if Paper Mario’s HD debut is one of the Wii U’s lost masterpieces. Can a fresh coat of paint hide the cracks of Paper Mario’s Wii U adventure?
It feels like it has been 1,000 years since Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door came out for the Nintendo GameCube; mostly because there hasn’t been a game like it since. Max, Logan, and special guest Scott White return to the seedy town of Rogueport to see if The Thousand-Year Door is a grand, epic stage production or a sloppy side show in the series.