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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
it “the 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.
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When Did Luigi Become Nintendo's Punching Bag?

86 Folder Collection
Lin published on July 11, 2020
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