Looking Back on Chapter Select Season 1

And that’s a wrap on Season 1 of Chapter Select!

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.

Having guests join us for individual games rather than one guest for a whole season was a real treat as well. While Logan and myself could keep the through line theme and focus all season long, our guests enriched the individual discussions. They also helped keep me grounded to the individual game rather than trailing off. Everyone’s story and experience with Paper Mario was unique, adding that personal touch I was hoping for to the show. I cannot thank them enough for playing through these games with us (especially Tomas, who bought Color Splash digitally in the year 2021 at the full price of $59.99). I am excited to start booking guests for Season 2! If you are interested, send me a message on Twitter.

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 throughly enjoyed making the art for each episode. I really pushed my design chops to try and capture the vibe of each game and the paper aesthetic. The toughest by far was Episode 5: Super Paper Mario. I wanted to play with perspective in the art, but just couldn’t find a way to make the logos legible and the art not look sloppy. For Episode 3: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, I scanned the cover of my Japanese copy of the game for the art, which lends itself even more so the paper aesthetic, since the cover is cardboard. I love the little Shy Guy slurping the color out of the letter “P” in the art for Episode 4: Paper Mario: Color Splash. By far, the easiest to design was Episode 6: Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

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!

Chapter Select: Season 1, Episode 6 – Paper Mario: Sticker Star

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?

Game Info

Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Metacritic – 75/100


Episode Cover Art by Max Roberts

This episode was originally recorded on August 4, 2021.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Chapter Select: Season 1, Episode 5 – Super Paper Mario

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?

Game Info

Super Paper Mario

Metacritic – 85/100


Episode Cover Art by Max Roberts

This episode was originally recorded on July 21, 2021.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Ricky’s Twitter

Chapter Select: Season 1, Episode 4 – Paper Mario: Color Splash

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?

Game Info

Paper Mario: Color Splash

Metacritic – 76/100


Episode Cover Art by Max Roberts

This episode was originally recorded on June 30, 2021.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Tomas’ Twitter


Chapter Select: Season 1, Episode 3 – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

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.

Game Info

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Metacritic – 87/100


Episode Cover Art by Max Roberts

This episode was originally recorded on May 5, 2021.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Scott’s Twitter

Chapter Select: Season 1, Episode 2 – Paper Mario: The Origami King

20 Years after the series started, Paper Mario: The Origami King was quickly revealed and then released in Summer 2020. Max and Logan examine the creases and folds that lead to Paper Mario being represented on the Nintendo Switch in this way. Has much really changed from the N64 game?

Game Info

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Metacritic – 80/100


Episode Cover Art by Max Roberts

This episode was originally recorded on March 24, 2021.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Chapter Select: Season 1, Episode 1 – Paper Mario

Season 1 is all about Paper Mario! Dusting off their Wii U consoles (?) Max and Logan play and dissect the paper-inspired RPG that started it all. Is Paper Mario really all it’s crafted up to be or is it a soggy mâché of a game?

Game Info

Paper Mario

Metacritic – 93/100


Episode Cover Art by Max Roberts

This episode was originally recorded on February 10, 2021.

Max’s Twitter

Logan’s Twitter

Chapter Select Season 1 Announcement (CtS Edition)

Logan and I have been overwhelmed with the response to Chapter Select in its first week. Particularly here in the Chasing the Stick podcast feed! So, I wanted to pop back in one more time to properly share the Season 1 announcement and share a little tease of the full episode.

Which, is out right now! Check out the links below to listen to S1E1 – Paper Mario and subscribe to Chapter Select!

Chapter Select Easter Egg Twitter Thread

Chapter Select Season 1 is Paper Mario

I am happy to announce that Season 1 of my new podcast, Chapter Select, is all about Paper Mario! Logan Moore and I will be tackling the paper-inspired RPG series with special guests along the way. Yes, I convinced Logan to hook up a Wii U to his 4K TV in the year of PS5 and XSX. Missed the announcement of Chapter Select earlier this week? Here is the pitch:

Max Roberts and Logan Moore pick a video game series and bounce back and forth between its entries, exploring their evolution, design, and legacy. Each season explores a different series with guests joining our hosts along the way to explore video games outside of individual titles.

Season 0 is live right now and focuses on The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II! But with only two games in the series, the show format couldn’t really shine. To now use Paper Mario as the example, here is the release order and structure of Season 1:

You may notice that there are dates tied to the first three episodes but not beyond that. The first three episodes are already recorded, edited, and ready! We are still playing the back half of the series, currently playing Color Splash. We have a schedule in mind and guests lined up for the rest of the season, but we don’t want to commit to dates yet.

Playing through Paper Mario, Origami King, and Thousand-Year Door in that order has really convinced me that this structure brings something new to discussions surrounding these games and video game podcasts as a whole. Sure, I have bias, but I genuinely think you will enjoy the discussions we have as we play through all sorts of video game series in this manner.

I am stoked to finally roll out the show. If you liked Season 0 or like the sound of Season 1, please subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts. And just you wait until you see the episodic art I whipped up for Paper Mario! See you all on Wednesday!

Update (July 14, 2021) – Updated with links to published episodes.

Interview: Paper Mario’s development team lays it all out – VGC

Interview: Paper Mario’s development team lays it all out by Andy Robinson for VGC

“Games are entertainment, so I want the people who play our games to say ‘Wow!’ My understanding is that if we want to give players these positive surprises, we can’t do exactly the same thing that’s been done before.”

Risa Tabata, Nintendo EPD’s assistant producer

“However, I do think it’s difficult to satisfy certain fans with the adventure game direction if they think of Paper Mario games as simply being RPGs. I hope that everyone will play this game with an open mind.”

Kensuke Tanabe, Senior Officer Nintendo EPD

When you want something to return to form after nearly 16 years, it’s tough to hear this sentiment from the creators. I am glad that the team gets to make the game they want to. I respect that vision and I am still excitedly curious to see what Paper Mario looks like in 2020 (The Origami King will be my first new Paper Mario game since 2007), but I am still bummed out that The Origami King does not appear to be the kind of game I truly want. Maybe someday The Thousand Year Door will escape its imprisonment on the GameCube and be ported to modern hardware.

A Closer Look at Paper Mario: The Origami King – Nintendo

A Closer Look at Paper Mario: The Origami King – Nintendo Switch – YouTube

I am so torn on Paper Mario: The Origami King after this in-depth preview. Nintendo seems to be listening, but only partially. Companions are there, but appear generic and may not have a significant role in combat. Bosses are unfortunately directly inspired by Sticker Star and Color Splash. Combat looks intriguing: There is certainly a strategic element, but could be bloated. I wish Nintendo would ignore the paper craft element outside of visuals. The combat and narrative do not need to be directly influenced by paper.

Color me cautiously optimistic…

Paper Mario: The Origami King, Live Reaction and Discussion – Arlo

Paper Mario: The Origami King | Live Reaction and Discussion – Arlo

I meant to share this back when Paper Mario: The Origami King was announced. I got caught up in the day and just never got around to it. Arlo is the de facto voice of Paper Mario on YouTube for me. His YouTube career took off with the fantastic “The Problem with Paper Mario” video. He also kickstarted the Remaster The Thousand-Year Door campaign last year as well as took an in-depth look at Color Splash three years later. The muppet knows his Paper Mario.

His open-letter in the Problem of Paper Mario video, Arlo talks about the lack-luster reveal of Color Splash and how he wishes there was maybe a small teaser that lead into a full-blown stylish trailer. We got that with The Origami King. Arlo talked about the lack of uniqueness and any real sort of plot. It appears that The Origami King has both of those. Maybe Nintendo is finally listening to fans. Or maybe it is foolish to hope for that after the last two games?

Paper Mario: The Origami King Announced, Out in Two Months

Paper Mario: The Origami King – Announcement Trailer – Nintendo Switch – YouTube

That trailer shows all the right things. As a Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door fan from the beginning, this looks so right. Unique characters, no silly stickers or human-objects, possible partners: This looks like the Paper Mario I fell in love with. With it being out in two months (on the same day as Ghost of Tsushima), this is an exciting turnaround. My hopes have been lifted once again.

Please, please be the return to form that the series deserves. Please.