Nobody Loves Luigi, Even on His 30th Birthday
2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the original “Mario Bros.” arcade game, which introduced the world to Mario’s brother, Luigi. Unfortunately, few people will be wishing the plumber a happy birthday, given his sidekick status has relegated him to living in his brother’s short, fat shadow.
One could call Luigi the Robin to Mario’s Batman — but even that would be generous. “Robin, at least was his own character,” said Jose Zagal, an assistant professor of game development and interactive media at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media and author of “The Videogame Ethics Reader.”
“Though Robin was young and inexperienced, he was portrayed as competent and even somewhat cool. Luigi, however, is often portrayed at best as a clone of Mario and, at worst, the more cowardly brother who still pulls through in the end,” Zagal said.
Luigi originated as a palette swap for Mario, born of necessity for the two-player Mario Bros. game. While Mario has had dozens of games with his name in the title, Luigi only has one true game to call his own — 2001′s Luigi’s Mansion.
Zagal lamented, “Though they have been around almost the same amount of time, and though Luigi is probably just as well-known as Mario around the world, he has been relegated to permanent underdog status.”
Happy Birthday, Luigi. I always liked you better than Mario.