With the release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon in North America (and its European launch set to follow in a couple of days), Nintendo has officially kicked off the “Year of Luigi,” the company’s year-long celebration of Mario’s cowardly brother. We’re certainly excited for the Luigi-themed festivities; the green plumber has been neglected for far too long, and it’s heartening to see him get a little appreciation for all of his unsung heroics. In light of this, a few of the staffers have gathered together to share with you just why they love Luigi, and why, despite taking a back seat to his more famous brother throughout the years, he’s still one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters. It’s Luigi time!
Luigi is one of my two favorite video game characters. It’s such a dead heat between him and Kirby that I can’t even decide between the two of them. Though my reason for liking Luigi is much more interesting than my reasons for liking Kirby. With Luigi, I feel that I identify with him in a lot of way. Being the youngest sibling who is constantly in the shadows of her older siblings, I look at Luigi and see a reflection of myself in a weird way. I know it sounds really cheesy, but it’s true.
Mel’s childhood in a nutshell.
I like him because of his courage. I think he’s even more courageous than Mario. With Luigi, you have someone who is afraid of a lot of things. Yes, he’s rather cowardly, but yet, he’ll always charge into battle right alongside Mario. He’ll face his fears and he’ll carry on even if he’s petrified. That’s some serious courage if you ask me. Mario is courageous and brave, but does he have any fears? We don’t know. Luigi does and yet he still fights.
Plus, green is an awesome color and I think Luigi’s mustache is better than Mario’s. But that’s just me being shallow.
You know, everyone always calls Luigi the forgotten Mario brother, but is it really the case? You can’t have “brothers” without Luigi. From the very beginning in Super Mario Bros., the green guy has been a staple of the Mario series. I don’t think Luigi has ever been forgotten so much as outclassed. After being given a full role in Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi went right back to being second player.
I think Luigi is really the idol for anyone who has ever been a sidekick or a second fiddle. In any gamer family, the younger sibling always ends up being player two, they always end up with Luigi. These are the people who can really identify with the green plumber, and who will love him to the end.
Luigi really came into his own in Super Mario Bros. 2, but it would be years before he got another role like that.
What also makes Luigi so interesting is that he is one of the few, if not the only, Nintendo character who is portrayed as having many flaws. He’s clumsy, he’s cowardly, he’s self-conscious, and he’s jealous. In other words, he’s human. Unlike his brother Mario, who is portrayed as a bastion of heroism with little personality, Luigi is bursting at the seams with likeability and quirkiness.
I love Luigi because he soldiers on despite his reputation and his reluctance. He knows it freakin’ crazy to go it alone into a haunted mansion, but he does it anyway. He traveled by himself through Teehee Valley just to get an herb to help his sick brother. He’s not perfect, and he doesn’t pretend to be. Luigi has a dark, selfish side like all of us, but he doesn’t resent his lot in life. Luigi’s just happy to have a brother and friends who he can rely on, and that’s why he’s
such a swell guy.
It’s nice to finally see Luigi getting the spotlight after so many years of neglect. Sure, he’s been a constant presence in the Mario series ever since his palette-swapped debut, as Kyle has already pointed out. But there’s hardly anything glamorous about being a perpetual understudy, and his one starring role (Mario Is Missing notwithstanding) was in a title that I personally adored, but was met with middling reviews (and, by all rights, would probably have faded into obscurity had Nintendo not been experimenting with stereoscopic 3D at the time, paving the way for its 3DS followup a decade later).
I’m certainly happy for this change of heart. Luigi has always been my favorite Mario brother, even before his role in Super Mario Bros. 2, where he proved himself to be the best character in the game (you know it’s true). I suppose it was his appearance that initially drew me to him; like Mel, I much prefer Luigi’s choice of wardrobe to Mario’s, and his lankier stature gave us a commonality that I didn’t share with his pudgy brother. But it was his personality, I think, that really solidified him as my favorite character. Unlike the infallible Mario, Luigi was cautious, awkward, and often comically inept, making him the perfect foil for the “savoir of the Mushroom Kingdom.” I suppose that explains why he’s always been relegated to player two– he’d prefer not to embark on life-threatening missions unless it’s absolutely necessary. Like Kyle said, Luigi knows the difference between brave and foolish.
You can bet Luigi wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t love his brother so much.
In fact, it’s almost a little ironic that, despite taking a back seat to his more famous brother for the entirety of his career, Luigi is actually the more fleshed out of the two heroes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the various RPGs spun off from the series; with Mario stuck in the role of silent protagonist, Intelligent Systems and AlphaDream were free to use the green plumber in a much different capacity, usually to humorous effect. Some of my favorite moments in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door came from the times you’d meet up with Luigi and he’d recite his own parallel adventure to you, while his partner character, who’d often be maimed in these travels, ranted about Luigi’s incompetence.
It’s fitting, then, that the most lauded aspect of Dark Moon is not the way it builds upon the first Luigi’s Mansion’s gameplay (though that is certainly remarkable in its own right), but how Luigi’s personality shines through the dark and gloomy mansions he inspects, giving the game a charm all its own. Hopefully its sales will match the positive reception it’s been getting, ensuring that Luigi plays a more prominent role in Mario’s future. He definitely deserves to.
Honestly, one of the things that makes Luigi so great, to me, is the fact that he isn’t taken seriously. For years, Luigi was simply a Mario clone, and one that the fandom kind of considered a joke. But what Nintendo has done with him over the last decade or so, is embrace that as part of his character. Luigi isn’t just under appreciated in the real world, he’s also under appreciated in the Mushroom Kingdom. By taking this path, Nintendo suddenly found something that made the character lovable.
Luigi displays his unbridled courage.
We first started seeing this in Luigi’s Mansion and the Mario & Luigi games from AlphaDream. All of a sudden, we saw this hero who, fighting against his fears, went and saved his brother. And we also noticed that, just like us gamers, no one in the Mushroom Kingdom was giving the guy in green the respect he deserved.
I think anyone that has a sibling can relate to Luigi. We all want what’s best for our family members, but sometimes it’s hard living in their shadow. Sometimes it’s hard to live up to the trails they’ve blazed. By making Luigi a joke in the Mushroom Kingdom, Nintendo kind of flipped his role in the real world. All of a sudden, people appreciated him a little more. Maybe the fans realized that Kermit the Frog was right all these years: it’s not easy being green. But now… the fans are in his corner, even if the other people in the Mushroom Kingdom aren’t. I know I am.
What about you? Why do you love Luigi, and which of his starring roles is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!