Sitting down on a couch in the middle of the common room in an apartment in Brookline, I open my laptop at 10 in the morning to start a scheduled Zoom call. I start the meeting, gather my questions, and watch as another square occupies the Zoom room, replacing myself. In big white letters on a black background I see a name appear, a name recognized as a top Paper Mario speedrunner, a name supported by a dedicated community, a name chosen as an homage to Xenoblade chronicles.
Since he’s an hour behind, I apologize for having him get up so early in the morning, to which he replies, “Actually this worked better for me, so I can just hop right into stream[ing] right after I’m done.”
I do a double-take. “Okay, cool cool.” Now, after two weeks of emails, stream chats, and question prep, we finally start our interview about the game, franchise, and community that we both love and cherish: Paper Mario, more specifically, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (TTYD).
“I grew up with the game,” he said. “I have a really special attachment to it.”
When Monado says he grew up with the game, it really was a part of his childhood. He recalled playing the game with his brother as a child and even getting closer with his family as they all watched him play. This family connection, as well as a love for the game, have drawn him to the Paper Mario and TTYD community.
“The community is very, very open and engaging,” he said. “I’ve just always gravitated towards it. I’m happy to add to the community, [and] I want to give the community a comfortable space.”
Indeed, Monado and the world of Paper Mario seem to go hand-in-hand today. While there are some streamers on Twitch who speedrun the newer games, it isn’t consistent. In fact, there are very few streamers that consistently run TTYD or any of the games in the Paper Mario franchise. This places Monado in a unique position; he’s not only a part of a dedicated community, he’s at the forefront.
“It’s honestly not that big in terms of like a speedrunning scene,” he said. “Other than the occasional runner, it’s really just me.”
This isn’t to say Monado is the only contributor. In fact, Monado states there is a whole background section of the community filled with glitch hunters and route optimizers who are so passionate about the franchise, they find the routes, glitches, inputs, etc. to help speedrunners achieve the fastest time possible. It’s because of these people that games like TTYD continue to receive route updates and new glitch discoveries 16 years after its initial Gamecube release.
These glitches lend themselves to different categories of speedrunning. While Monado started off doing “Glitchless” runs— which he still continues to do— he has also learned necessary glitches, routes, and optimizations to better improve his glitched and 100 percent runs. Some of these glitches are more than challenging, to say the least.
“Some of these glitches are frame perfect, angle perfect, and input perfect,” he said. “The first time I pulled them off, I felt great. I felt very proud of myself to get to a point where I could do all the glitches and tricks to complete the game.”
The community’s gift to Monado has not only been glitches, but love. He met his Twitch-streamer fiancé Anna through playing the game.
“I found Anna through my stream,” he recalled, telling their story. “She came into my stream when I was running TTYD, like, the first three days I was running the game.”
“I popped into her ‘recommended’ and she said, ‘Wow there’s actually someone speedrunning this game in English,’ because I only had an English disk at the time, and she stuck around. She had gotten a gift sub, so she came back, and after a couple of weeks we started talking. We met in person for the first time when she was in Minnesota for a convention and I was there for SGDQ.”
Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) wasn’t the first time they had seen each other in person. The first was actually another GDQ event, though they didn’t actually meet then.
“It’s funny, I was on the couch for Luigi’s Mansion at the GDQ event and she saw me there!”
Yes, Luigi’s Mansion. For as much clout and notoriety Monado has in the Paper Mario community, he didn’t start off in it. He began speedrunning Luigi’s Mansion in 2015 after watching streamer FireDragon complete some runs. After continuously running the game, Monado moved onto Super Mario Sunshine, Zelda, and others. He said during that time it was hard to establish a constant following because people wouldn’t know what type of streamer he was, though he always stayed “In the Nintendo scene.”
It would be four years after speedrunning Luigi’s Mansion, in 2019, that Monado would stick with TTYD and the Paper Mario franchise, and from the looks of this twitch clip, it doesn’t look like Luigi took it that well.
Now, after ingraining himself in the community, Monado has his sights on an ultimate goal: The Paperthon, a play on the word “marathon” in which a player completes every Paper Mario game in a single sitting. There are six Paper Mario games. While this has been done before, after the releases of Sticker Star and Color Splash, no one has completed it since the release of Origami King.
“Nothing has ever been done with all six games,” said Monado. “I’d like to be the first one to do that.”
A feat this big requires a lot of training. Aside from consistently streaming 100 percent completion attempts of TTYD and Super Paper Mario, Monado consistently tests his endurance, practicing other games off-stream and completing the Mario 360, which includes getting all the stars in Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. This is a feat made much easier with the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars for the Nintendo Switch.
In Xenoblade, the Monado is a sword that changes the shape of the world around it. With the goal of a Paperthon in mind and a strong community behind him, Monado continues to live up to his namesake, gathering energy from those around him to shape the Paper Mario world. We at Stropse can’t wait to see where this superstar streamer goes next.