I’m a bit late to the party here, I know, but bear with me. I’m trying to do something a little different, and I hope it turns out to be interesting!
It’s the Year of Luigi, apparently, and what I originally considered to be a one-off theme to be used for a single Nintendo Direct and discarded soon after has been shown to be so much more. Luigi has been given two starring roles in 2013; one in the recently released 3DS game Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (which is an amazing game), and another in the upcoming New Super Luigi U, DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U on the Wii U. He also plays an important role in the upcoming Mario and Luigi: Dream Team for the 3DS, where Mario can go into Luigi’s dreams while he sleeps. Ok fine, that sure sounds like Mario is doing all of the work again, but whatever... we’ll take it. Furthermore, Nintendo has created several Luigi-themed Miiverse communities, and in Japan they are even releasing a Luigi-themed Nintendo 3DS XL.
It’s clear that Nintendo is taking this Year of Luigi business seriously.
I had originally planned on doing a straight timeline of Luigi’s video game appearances. However, that has been done to death by this point, so I opted for another route. While doing research for this feature (mostly just visiting MarioWiki.Com, which has a great page on Luigi), I found quite a few Luigi tidbits that even I was unaware of, and I’d rather focus on those instead. Thus, yet another top 10 list was born.
So let’s do this. For starters, did you know that...
We all know that Mario was named after Mario Segale, the owner of a warehouse that Nintendo was renting out in America. Probably. It’s never actually been confirmed by Nintendo, and probably never will be, since he vaguely seems to think that if it is true, he should be owed royalty checks, a supposition that I suspect Nintendo would heavily disagree with. But what about our man Luigi, where did his name come from?
Well, according to Wikipedia, which would never lie to us, it comes from a pizza place in Redmond, Washington named Mario & Luigi’s. You will note that Redmond, Washington is the home of Nintendo of America. This origin of Luigi’s name is also unconfirmed, but it sounds pretty likely to me. Furthermore, Miyamoto (i.e. the creator of the Mario series) has stated that the word ruiji means "similar" in Japanese, and Luigi was designed to be similar to Mario, but who knows if this fact actually worked into the naming decision or was a mere afterthought. Miyamoto is an insane genius and no one will ever comprehend what goes on inside of his head.
You have to wonder what the incredible success of the Super Mario series did for the business of Mario & Luigi’s pizza. I have a mental image of the owners of this Mario & Luigi’s pizza in my mind and it is pretty hilarious. And probably somewhat unintentionally racist too, since, in my mind, they look, talk, and act exactly like the actors on the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, Italian-American stereotypes and all.
Luigi has been a coward from the very beginning
One of the key personality traits of Luigi is, and I’m putting it bluntly here, his cowardice. Luigi is often a reluctant hero, showing a great deal of noticeable fear throughout the course of his adventures. Personally, I can kind of relate... except that Luigi still (generally) overcomes his fear and gets the job done in the end, whereas I’d probably run off and hide if faced with even half of the crazy stuff that he constantly finds himself up against. Still, in a video game world populated with so many large and fearless men, Luigi stands out for being a male hero with a true, defined weakness.
But surely he wasn’t always this way, was he? In the early Mario games, he was essentially just a reskin of Mario, and in Super Mario Bros. 2 (NA) he was not only not portrayed as a coward, but was clearly superior to his brother Mario. It could be argued that he was the best character in the game, although Princess Toadstool might have something to say about that.
The first game that I can recall where Luigi was presented in a clearly cowardly manner was the original Luigi’s Mansion, which appeared on the Gamecube at launch, way back in 2001. (This is way back now? God I’m old.) This game established cowardice as a core part of Luigi’s personality, and Luigi has been presented as a coward in many other games since, perhaps most notably in the various Mario RPG games and the Smash Bros. series.
However, Super Mario Adventures, a comic that first appeared in Nintendo Power in 1992, can be credited as the place where Luigi’s cowardice was first developed in a concrete way. Admittedly though, probably his most notable trait in this comic was not his cowardice, but the fact that he stuffed his face with food at every opportunity.
“But wait, Andrew”, you might say, “you said from the very beginning, and 1992 was certainly not the very beginning of Luigi!” You are correct, observant reader. Luigi first appeared in the original Mario Bros., an arcade game that was released in 1983, and brought to several home gaming platforms later that year. One of those platforms was the Atari 2600. A commercial was made for Mario Bros. on the Atari 2600, and instead of me describing it, why don’t you just watch it for yourself?
“Mariooooo where areeee youuuuu?”
Yep. So next time you worry that Nintendo retconned Luigi into a scaredy-cat, remind yourself that they were, in some ways, just returning him to his roots.
Luigi has not always worn green clothing
And I’m not talking about the fact that in the original Super Mario Bros. he wears white overalls, as such:
He is still clearing wearing a green shirt and shoes in that game. He also has green hair and a green mustache, for some reason. Was Luigi a punk rocker? It appears that he was. Yeah yeah I know all about NES sprite limitations.
No, I’m talking about one of Luigi’s less famous appearances, in the 1984 not-really-a-classic-though-Nintendo-tries-to-call-it-one game Wrecking Crew:
Yep, that is Luigi wearing red overalls, despite the fact that red overalls are his brother’s trademark thing. He also appears to be shirtless, which is a bit... disturbing?
Now, if you want to see something even more bizarre, check out Luigi in the 1986 Japanese animated movie Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!:
What in the...?
Luigi is the only one who knows what is under a Shy Guy’s mask
Throughout the many years and many games of the Super Mario series, we have never seen what is behind the mask of a Shy Guy. It is a mystery to everyone.
In Mario Power Tennis, if you win a match with the Shy Guy character, he trips while walking up to the podium. Luigi is the only one there who catches a glimpse of what is behind the mask. And the look of astonishment and horror on Luigi’s face suggests that underneath that mask is something straight from the dreams of Lovecraft.
Speaking of dreams, I always found it kind of odd that Shy Guys are now regular inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom, considering that they first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2 (NA), which was supposed to take place in a dream. Whatever.
Luigi has a twin brother, apparently
Duh, of course he does Andrew, and his name is Mario! I know that. But I mean a different twin brother. Ok, this might not exactly be pure “canon” but come on, I’m not going to argue canon in the Mario series. It was in one of the mainline games, so it has to count for something.
In Super Mario Galaxy, Luigi is imprisoned in the Ghostly Galaxy and must be rescued by Mario, at which point he travels throughout the galaxy helping Mario gather stars by, well... getting lost and requiring Mario to come rescue him again. Typical Luigi. However, if you collect all 120 stars in the game, you unlock the ability to play through it again as Luigi. But what happens during the missions in which you are supposed to rescue Luigi if you are playing as Luigi? It would probably have made sense to have you rescue Mario, but why would Nintendo do that when they could just have you rescue a random different Luigi instead? And to make it even more confusing, Rosalina now calls this new Luigi the other Luigi’s twin.
Of course, if we really want to take it to the next level (or should I say the “Next Level”, ohhhh I’m so clever!), Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon lets up to four players play through a multiplayer mode at the same time and every single one of those players is Luigi. And unlike the four Links in the Four Swords Adventures Zelda games, no explanation is given for why there are four Luigis, it just has to be accepted as is. So it goes.
Luigi is a cross-dresser
One time trying on a woman’s clothing can be explained through mere curiosity, right? That’s my defense anyway. Two times can be explained as a short-lived fad. But three times? Look, I’m not judging here. People can wear whatever they want. But let’s be clear about one thing: Luigi definitely enjoys dressing up as a woman.
The first time Luigi dressed up like a woman was during the Super Mario Adventure comic. Alright fine, comics don’t count maybe. Whatever.
The second time was in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, where Luigi puts on Peach’s spare dress to trick others into thinking that he is Peach. Sure, that’s why he did it.
The third time was in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Or at least, it was implied. Close enough. Pattern established.
By the way, if you know what is good for you, don’t try searching the Internet for pictures of Luigi dressed as a woman. But... you’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you? Well then.
Luigi’s marginalization knows no bounds
It’s common knowledge that Luigi is often marginalized. For my first piece of evidence, let’s just take a look at this officially licensed Super Mario Chess game:
Yes, Luigi has been made into Mario’s queen. Although, what with his propensity towards cross-dressing as mentioned above, perhaps this was actually his preference? No judgments here. Moving on.
His marginalization is even made into comedic fodder in the various Mario RPG games, such as in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga where everyone recognizes Mario but no one knows who Luigi is, or when Luigi is considered “unworthy” to enter the Star Gate in Mario & Luigi: Partners in time.
Super Mario 64 gained notoriety with Luigi fans for his complete and utter absence from the game, with nary a mention of his name. It was a travesty that such a high profile, genre-defining game ignored half of the duo that made the franchise popular! But it wasn’t the first time that Luigi was nowhere to be found. That honor goes to Super Mario Land, which released in 1989 on the original Game Boy handheld gaming platform.
This is, by the way, the very same game where Daisy, often cited as Luigi’s love interest, debuted. To be rescued by Mario. Is she really in love with Luigi? Sure, they go golfing together, but it seems that they usually partner up with Mario and Peach in a foursome. Mayhaps Daisy is just using Luigi to get to Mario? It’s possible.
In Paper Mario: The Thousand Year door, Luigi even felt compelled to overdramatize his adventures because Mario was, yet again, getting all of the attention.
To be fair to Luigi, he isn’t always underappreciated. In the very same Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, he actually has a fan club. With two whole members in it. One of whom could probably be considered legally insane.
Luigi is a man of a million names
Speaking of nicknames...
“The Mustachioed Green Baron”. “Mr. Eyeballs”. “Plunger Puss”. “Mushroom Dynamite”. “Long John Spaghetti”.
These are just some of the many things that Luigi has been called over the years. The above are from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Mario Power Tennis, Mario is Missing!, Mario Hoops 3-on-3, and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, respectively.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Luigi has more nicknames than Bowser has failed plots that involve him repeatedly doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, Einstein’s very definition of insanity. Here are just a few of them.
Many of his nicknames reflect heavily upon the whole living in the shadow of Mario thing mentioned above, such as “The Eternal Understudy” from Super Smash Bros., “King of Second Bananas” from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and, representing one of the most concisely accurate nicknames ever, “The Other Guy” from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
Luigi starred in his own game long before Luigi’s Mansion
I have a traumatic memory from my youth. Actually, I have many traumatic memories from my youth, most of which I have done a respectable job of blocking out, but this one will not go away, and it is particularly relevant to the discussion. The year was 1994, and I had just recently received a Super Nintendo for Christmas a few weeks back. And by received I mean that my brother and I bought one for ourselves because my parents didn’t have much money, which is fair enough, and to their credit, they did buy us NHL ‘94, a decidedly sweet gift. Anyway, back in those days we used to “rent” games a lot, which for the younger generation out there, means that you went to a place that had a bunch of games, paid them a couple of bucks, and got to bring a game home and keep it for a few days before returning it.
One fine day, which will live on in infamy, I walked into a rental store and was browsing the games when HOLY F IS THIS A MARIO GAME THAT I’VE NEVER PLAYED NOR EVEN HEARD OF BEFORE EXCEPT IT APPARENTLY STARS LUIGI BUT THAT’S COOL I’M STILL TOTALLY DOWN BUT HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE? Look, this was before the Internet. Well, it was before I had the Internet, anyway, because, as stated above, my parents didn’t have much money. I should have known that awesome Mario games don’t appear out of nowhere, but at the time, I didn’t know any better.
Of course I am talking about this sad excuse for a “game”:
Mario’s greatest adventure? Come on! That there is Mario is Missing, released on the PC (MS-DOS, remember that?) in 1992, and both the NES and SNES in 1993, starring our beloved Luigi in his first solo adventure ever.
Imagine a bright young lad actually I was about 15 at the time arriving home in a state of total excitement, ready to dive head first into a new Mario platformer. Just look at this gameplay image. It... kind of... looks like a platformer... right?
And then imagine this lad’s emotions slowing changing from joy to frustration to abject horror over the course of a single night as he realizes that what he thought was a platformer was really... a dreaded... *gasp*... educational game. Don’t get me wrong, I still played through the whole game, because that is what you did when you rented a game. Renting a game was essentially an implicit blocking off of an entire weekend to play said game, and you didn’t not do that just because the game that you rented sucked goat. But man, this game sucked goat.
It should be noted that in the PC version of the game, Mario is captured because Luigi is too scared to enter a castle, forcing Mario to enter alone. Yep.
And also this happened
If you don’t know who Tony Rosato is, I don’t blame you, neither did I. He is a Canadian actor who has had a few jobs, including some stints on SCTV and Saturday Night Live. He has also done a fair amount of voice-acting, including voicing Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 (that must have been a tough job: “STARRRRRRRRRRSSSSS!”), as well as voicing our man Luigi in the animated cartoon series for both Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.
So what is so interesting about him? Certainly he is no Danny Wells (although they are both Canadian.)
I warn you, this is a sad story.
Tony Rosato suffers from Capgras delusion, which is to say, a mental illness in which those afflicted believe that people close to them have been abducted and replaced by identical-looking imposters. In this case his delusion centers around his wife and daughter, whom, unfortunately, have been forced to leave him due to concerns over harassment that they were receiving and concerns for their safety. I’m not going to get into all of the legal mumbo jumbo but suffice to say he was arrested, held for two years without bond, and eventually convicted and required to spend time in a mental hospital. How much of it is really his fault, versus his mental illness? Difficult to say. Either way it is an unfortunate situation for a man who was once the voice of Luigi on some very popular Super Mario children’s tv shows.