clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

When did Luigi become such a scaredy cat?

New, 11 comments

Back in the day, he was way smarter than Mario

dark moon hero Next Level Games/Nintendo

Luigi’s kind of a punching bag for Nintendo fans these days. The lanky plumber’s always played second fiddle to his big-deal twin brother, Mario, giving him an inferiority complex unparalleled in gaming. But it wasn’t always this way, as Super Mario minutia blog Supper Mario Broth uncovered.

The manual for Mario Party introduced players to the game’s roster. The English-language version keeps it brief — but Luigi’s description is wild compared to his modern incarnation.

“Maybe Mario’s younger brother has what it takes to become the ultimate Super Star,” it reads. “He’s smarter than Mario, but can brains overcome brawn in this contest?”

Luigi has been called many, many things over the years, but “smarter than Mario?” That’s a new one. Sure, they’re both medical practitioners, but only Mario has ever been trusted to save the Mushroom Kingdom repeated times. Only Mario is also an accomplished artist. Only Mario can possess over creatures, living and otherwise.

Since GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion, the younger Mario brother has been seen as a wimp, a scaredy-cat; he’s remembered best by modern players for his shrill yell and forever put-upon persona. But that wasn’t always the case, clearly; aside from Mario Party, most titles prior to 2001 had Luigi seem much more well-adjusted than he does today.

Games like Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and the upcoming Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle play into his fears of being overshadowed by Mario, with characters routinely forgetting his name. In Mario Kart Wii, Luigi gets so frustrated that he cries; in 2013, which Nintendo dubbed the “Year of Luigi,” the company posted a multi-million dollar loss.

Luigi has had his recent moments of bravery, though. Super Paper Mario plays him up as a true hero, and he’s described as “fearless” in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. His Rabbid is also probably the most likable in Mario + Rabbids, which is definitely a successful feat. (Let’s not forget his intimidating “death stare” from Mario Kart 8, too.)

There may be a wrinkle in Luigi’s past as a person of high intellect (or, at least, more smarts than Mario). A reply to Supper Mario Broth’s tweet suggests that Luigi’s “smarts” are a mistranslation; in Japanese, the manual is likely suggesting that Luigi is just slimmer than Mario. That opens up a whole other mess of insecurities and questions, though, so let’s just let Luigi have this small past win under his belt.