New Year’s Day Announcement! Join Us for Collaboration #3!

Are you a blogger?
Do you like Mario Kart?
Of course you do!

It’s time to pay attention!

It’s now time to reveal the topic of the Spring 2019 collaboration!
Three… Two… One… Go!

The Next Collaboration!
Tracking Shells: Our Mario Kart Memories! 

MK Collab

The Premise:

This is one I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. Mario Kart is deeply entrenched in our culture, and yet we’ve found no one who has sat down and collected stories from our frenzied races of the past. So much emotion goes into a race, and those competitions add up to tell some amazing stories from childhood, university, adulthood, and far into the future.

Each amazing writer — that, of course, means you — will select a track from a Mario Kart game upon which to base your recollections. You will not be limited to discussing that track, of course. Instead, it should function as a narrative jumping-off point, allowing you, the writer, to explore tales of Mario Kart to your heart’s content.

As always, there is no need for actual “review” or critique — so many amazing people do that already. Instead, focus on Mario Kart‘s presence in your life, and how it has impacted your reality. These are memories, after all, and should be immortalized with all the narrative wonderment they deserve.

Through Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds! and The Games That Define Us, these collabs have become the place for high quality storytelling. I suspect Tracking Shells will be no different.

The Format:

It will be a simple three-step process:

1. You will select one track from any Mario Kart game. Preferably the one you have the most nostalgia for.

2. Using that track as a launching point or central focus, you’ll tell the story of the friendships and memories you’ve made over Mario Kart. Be as creative as you like with this aspect — those who know me know I refuse to stifle creativity.

3. I’ll design and organize them thematically in one volume like I did the Hyrule blog! I already have a design motif in mind this time around, so now all we need are amazing stories!

The Deadlines:

As with the previous two collabs, I’ll design a fun collaboration document we can all use to craft our pieces! This time around, things are pretty standard.

Pieces will be due by Friday, March 1, 2019!
… gotta remember that 9 in 2019.

And Tracking Shells will launch on Thursday, March 14, 2019!
… that’s also my mom’s birthday, but that’s completely unrelated.

The Contributors:

So, here’s the cool thing. I’ve given Returning Champions from the previous collabs first dibs on being part of this event, and amazingly 13 of them have exuberantly volunteered to come back! That’s incredible, especially considering this a far more niche topic than collabs past! I’m going to leave two more slots open for anyone else who wants to return, and I’ll convert those over to newcomer slots if need be.

Speaking of which, I’ve reserved five Newcomer slots! If you’ve never participated in a Normal Happenings collab, now’s your chance to be a part of something wonderful!

Here’s the cast so far, and I’ll be updating this list as it fills. I’ll also be updating with everyone’s track of choice as they roll in. Sign up quickly, as these slots tend to fill up quickly!

  1. Matt @ Normal Happenings
  2. Nikki @ Normal Happenings

    Returning Champions! 
  3. Alyssa @ Nerd Side of Life
  4. Matt @ 3PStart
  5. Ruubin @ FTWRuubin
  6. Shauna @ HideNGoShauna
  7. Amanda May @ Imaginating Life
  8. Justin @ TWOTALL4UFOOL’s Gaming & More
  9. Victor @ The Modern Gafa
  10. KT @ Wintendo 64
  11. Kathy @ Krysanthe
  12. Teri Mae @ Sheikah Plate
  13. Imtiaz @ Power Bomb Attack
  14. Alex @ The Purple Prose Mage
  15. Skylar Mei @ gamergal.exe
    +[DLC Slots for any additional Returning Champions wanting to take part.]

  16. Sally @ Geeky Hippie
  17. The Off-Centred Earth Mage @ The Well-Red Mage
  18. Winst0lf · The Bizarro Mage @ Winst0lf Portal
  19. The Ink-Stained Mage @ The Well-Red Mage
  20. Luna @ GamersUnitedGG

*UPDATE!* We’ve got a full roster! These 20 amazing bloggers will be telling their wonderful Mario Kart tales. Registration is now closed except for DLC posts by Returning Champions. This is going to be awesome!

We can’t wait to see what kind of fun and wonderful stories come out of this collaboration. And with that, we bid you a wonderful 2019 that, we’re sure, will be the best year ever!

Help us make amazing designs, better collaborations, and even achieve our dreams of podcast and video content. Consider becoming one of the amazing patrons of Normal Happenings. We would be forever grateful!


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door | The Game That Defines Adventure Rules

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Paper Mario music is subtle, relaxing… and underrated.


The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 


Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Now for the game that represents a big regret in my life — I call myself a Nintendo fan, but I’ve never played Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Admittedly, Nintendo has not been making it easy for me, with Gamecube games rarely appearing as ports or remasters.

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to enjoy this beloved entry in the Mario RPG pantheon, but for now I’ll have to settle for a retrospective by one of my favorite bloggers! It’s Ian from Adventure Rules! A fellow collab-master, Ian is famous for Blogger Blitz, which is an innovative battle of imaginations. If you’re interested, I would start here, and work your way forward in time. Ian was also a brilliant contributor to the Hyrule blog, with his exploration of Clock Town. Basically, Ian is awesome. Here are a couple more recent posts on Adventure Rules I particularly enjoyed:

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S., and we hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings




Ian @ Adventure Rules 

Twitter: @adventure_rules

For Clippy…

Game: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
System: Gamecube
Release Date: April 22, 2004

1P Start

Fandoms are amazing communities where people with like interests can connect and explore the things that make them happy, and for me that’s exactly what Paper Mario became. Online, I found commonality with other gamers that I couldn’t find with the kids in my local community.

When I was a kid, renting games from video stores such as Blockbuster was a pretty common part of my gaming experience. I discovered a lot of games that I wanted to buy by renting them, playing far enough in to fall in love, and then putting them on a Christmas or birthday list later down the line. It was in this way that I discovered the original Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64, and once I got my hands on that game I was hooked faster than a Cheep Cheep in the inevitable Mario Fishing title that’s gonna come out on Switch someday. So when, a few years later, a sequel came to the GameCube, you better believe that game landed the top spot on my Christmas list.


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door came out when I was 12 years old. I got it the Christmas of that year so I ended up being 13 when I played it. This is an impressionable time in a kid’s life; early teenager-y is all about discovering your unique identity and learning your place in the world. You begin to settle into what will likely be the core of your personality. Various things will change to be sure – I’m not the same man now that I was two years ago, let alone fourteen – but in some ways we never change. For me, the features that became set in stone during that era were my fascination with storytelling, my sense of humor, and my love for geek culture.


At age 13, I wasn’t doing too great. Many of us aren’t during that time. For me, my hobbies and interests set me apart from a lot of my peers in school. I lived in a rural community that values rural things: nature, sports, family. Gender roles are rigid, the arts take a back seat to other aspects of life, and education is seen as valuable by some but as an unnecessary luxury by just as many. As a young man who was more interested in music and theater than basketball or cars, who liked to spend time alone instead of talking with other kids, and who loved fantasy and magic, I had a hard time making connections. Gaming helped me to feel like I had those connections with fictional characters, and with Paper Mario I took things to a new level I’d never explored before: fandom.

The term fandom has a lot of connotations, and there are certainly versions of it that are negative. I have encountered individuals within fandoms who make me cringe with their mindless dedication to the thing they love, their unwillingness to see their passion as an opinion rather than a cold, hard fact. But fandoms are also amazing communities where people with like interests can connect and explore the things that make them happy, and for me that’s exactly what Paper Mario became. Online, I found commonality with other gamers that I couldn’t find with the kids in my local community.

Paper Mario made it easy by having such interesting locations and characters to explore. The game’s third chapter, for example, is set in the fighting arena known as the Glitz Pit, a location where creatures of all types gather to face off in battles with all the brutality of MMA and the performative smack talk of WWE. I remember finding communities in forums where people would create their own Glitz Pit fighters and compete in tournaments using fan-designed rulesets. It inspired me to create one of my own, a tabletop RPG based on Glitzville – a project that even to this day I’ll break out and work on from time to time.

Then there are the X-Nauts, goofy flunkies to a powerful and deadly mastermind whose ultimate goal is to rule the world alongside his dark goddess. I once stumbled upon a forum thread where folks created their own X-Nauts – not powerful generals to go along with the leader, but the goofy underlings who simply screwed around and caused trouble in their day-to-day lives. I laughed at the stories as folks roleplayed all sorts of ridiculous scenarios from concerts to dance parties to botched missions to defeat Mario.

In addition to community activities, I loved reading about the thoughts other folks shared about the game’s lore and mysteries. Paper Mario is somewhat simple on the surface, but there are all kinds of deeper details you can dive in to and speculate about as well. What is the true origin of the Shadow Queen and her mysterious servants? Are the cursed chests really the original heroes who wielded the Crystal Stars against her? Would Nintendo ever create a Paper Luigi to tell the full story of his battle against the Chestnut King? Whether it was reading about these theories or just reading more stories about my favorite characters in the game such as Vivian or Prince Mush, I spent many an evening diving deep into the world of fan theories and fan fiction as well as writing my own.

To this day, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is still my favorite video game. The jokes gel perfectly with my sense of humor – in all reality, they likely molded and cemented my sense of humor into what it is today. I love the characters, whose simple concepts make them easy to attach to and whose hidden stories help them to develop beyond one-note partners into fully-fleshed personalities. I love how much story potential there is in the game’s world, whether it’s all the tales of thievery and corruption that could be told in Rogueport, the mysteries that take place on the Excess Express, or the fighters who rise and fall from glory in the Glitz Pit. While I have gone on to consider myself a part of many fandoms, Paper Mario will always be my first and the one which helped me to learn that I could make connections with people other than the ones who happened to be in the closest proximity to me. While it would be many years before I ever decided to make my own voice heard online, it was thanks to The Thousand-Year Door that I understood I wasn’t alone in my passions or interests. When the time came when I had the confidence to create my own space, I knew there would be people out there as passionate about games as I was.


adventure map

WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 


This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!

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