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  • *Luigi Screaming*

  • Luigi is dead.

  • Or maybe the correct word is pseudo-murdered.

  • The point is Nintendo has no qualms about the other Mario Bro getting his soul harvested

  • for no greater purpose than a Super Smash Bros. character reveal.

  • Which makes us wonder: When Did Luigi Become Nintendo's Punching Bag?

  • And why?

  • Luigi hasn't always been the cowering, spineless loser that modern Nintendo makes him out to

  • be.

  • In the beginning, he was just a palette swapped Mario.

  • His skills, his shape, his courage were all equal to his brother's.

  • Later games gave him new talents.

  • Luigi could jump higher, but at the cost of friction on a platform, and this extra mobility

  • has even been carried through to new games, like his incredible movement in Mario + Rabbids

  • Kingdom Battle.

  • So how did that... become this?

  • There are three steps to Luigi's punching bag-ification.

  • In 1989, he became scared.

  • In 1994, he became useless.

  • And by 1996, he moved into his brother's shadow.

  • 1989: the introduction of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

  • In the very first episode, Luigi is a coward.

  • Watch him stick back while both Mario and Peach soldier forth on a dangerous adventure.

  • Polar Bear?

  • Lunch?”

  • Brief sidebar!

  • Up until this point, the only instance of Luigi actually having a personality was in

  • the 1986 anime film for Super Mario Bros.

  • Strangely, Luigi's appearance and personality seem more similar to Wario's in the anime.

  • He's greedy and self-centered, and there's a throwaway gag where he's enjoying a bottle of

  • sake at a hot spring.

  • It's very chill.

  • End sidebar!

  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show is the beginning of the duo's very specific sibling dynamic.

  • Even in the live action segments, their relationship seemed to be a caustic one.

  • Luigi: “You have a little piece of spaghetti on your overalls.”

  • Mario: “Oh, f*** you Luigi!”

  • Luigi was an awkward coward, sure.

  • But he was still useful.

  • So when did that stop?

  • Stick with me here.

  • Have you ever heard of Mario's Early Years: Preschool Fun?

  • No?

  • Good.

  • It came out in 1994.

  • It's not a good game.

  • Or maybe it is if you're a preschooler, but it's definitely not a good Mario game.

  • The only thing that makes it Mario is the characters.

  • And that includes Luigi.

  • But you still control Mario.

  • And he's still the name of the game.

  • So what is Luigi's purpose here?

  • To be woken up.

  • Wake Luigi up and help him find the colors!”

  • In order to start a minigame, you have to wake up Luigi and then pick out objects to

  • teach him.

  • Luigi's entire reason of existing in this game is to be taught simple concepts like

  • shapes and colors.

  • This is, I believe, when Luigi becomes a hopeless oaf.

  • But it wasn't until the Mario RPGs that Luigi went full punching bag.

  • 1996's Super Mario RPG only includes one reference to Luigi, and he isn't even on

  • screen.

  • There's an entire secret Luigi diary in Paper Mario, which came out in 2000.

  • Every page seems to focus entirely on Luigi's envy, his inferiority complex, his need to

  • somehow prove himself by having a game with his own name in the title.

  • And then when he finally does get his name in the title in the Mario & Luigi RPGs, he's

  • just used as comic relief.

  • Time after time, his name is forgotten, his deeds undersold, his abilities shrugged off.

  • There was a glimmer of hope for the younger twin in 2013, when Satoru Iwata proudly proclaimed

  • itthe Year of Luigi.”

  • But even that was a failure!

  • Nintendo posted a 456 million dollar loss in the year of Luigi.

  • Luigi couldn't catch a break even in his big break.

  • With struggling sales for Wii U, Nintendo seemed, much like its favorite punching bag,

  • to be circling the drain.

  • *game over theme*

  • Maybe Nintendo saw themselves in Luigi.

  • An underdog not given the chance to survive and prove itself in the world of next gen

  • systems.

  • But then came the Switch.

  • And Breath of the Wild.

  • And Super Mario Odyssey.

  • And a veritable Nintendo renaissance.

  • Nintendo killed its underperforming system and started fresh.

  • And the Switch is breathing new life into titles that were left to fester on the Wii U.

  • Maybe that's why Nintendo needed to kill Luigi, too.

  • He'll be reborn.

  • It's a new Luigi, for this year and every year.

  • But more likely, he'll just keep getting killed for goofs forever.

  • Do you think Nintendo's just trying to cover up the true murder of Luigi?

  • Or do you think that Luigi should be dead?

  • Why don't you leave me a comment and let me know.

  • And make sure to like this video and subscribe to Polygon.

*Luigi Screaming*

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When Did Luigi Become Nintendo's Punching Bag?

  • 65 3
    Lin posted on 2020/07/10
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