As any youngest or middle child will know, not coming first is a hell of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, dear ol’ ma and pa have learnt a few things about parenting by the time you come along. That pint of authentic Russian Ass-Kicker Vodka my older sister used to have every night to help her sleep? That didn’t seem to do her much good after all, and I didn’t get any. On the other hand, though, all of your early life milestones have already been achieved (“Look, Sarah, Little Jimmy’s juggling alligators and flaming chainsaws with his feet!” “So what? Bob’s been juggling for years.”). It’s all just chewed meat.
It’s tough being the second-born, is what I’m getting at here. Nobody knows that better than our old buddy Luigi, the second and lamer half of the much-acclaimed Mario brothers. When it comes to sibling envy, we’re talking about freaking Mario here. The guy’s a pop culture icon, about as recognizable around the world as Mickey Mouse. He’s appeared in eight bajillion and seventeen video games (this is true, I counted them all), and is essentially the mascot to end all mascots.
How do you compete with that? You damn well don’t, that’s how. You carve yourself a niche as an entirely unique, beautiful and flawed human being, a confident and independent plumber who don’t need no famous brother. Let’s not compare, let’s just celebrate Luigi on his own merits. Check out 15 Things Luigi Can Do That Mario Can’t.
15 Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane?
Back in the day, the more decrepit old dudes among you might remember, Superman couldn’t actually fly at all. He was famous for his ability to ‘leap tall buildings in a single bound,’ but that was the extent of it. He wasn’t flying, he was falling with style, as an envious-ass Toy Story cowboy once said.
Hell, we can all do that. If anyone’s ever put a pin on your chair at school, you’ll have jumped about the height of the Chrysler Building yourself. Not that I’m talking trash about Superman; he does still have those eyeball lasers and that’s nothing to screw with. Fact is, though, if anyone’s famed for their jumping abilities nowadays, it’s Luigi. Everyone knows that he gets much more height than his brother, and sometimes has a little fluttering Yoshi-esque effect on his jumps to boot.
14 Anti-Gravity Fireballs
Now, sure, this is game dependent, but it’s a big plus in Luigi’s favour. The brothers’ classic fireball power-ups are as different as their Lorrell and Hardy physiques. Historically, Mario’s fireballs would arc towards the ground and bounce towards enemies at an odd angle. Which is, you know, fairly cool as it goes. Crappy angular fireballs are better than no fireballs, as my mama used to say. In my view, Luigi’s are far better though.
The younger sibling’s projectiles don’t tend to have these properties. Instead, Luigi’s green fireballs fly forward on a straight trajectory, making them much more predictable and reliable as a weapon. Sure, he doesn’t have Mario’s enormous immolation fireballs-every-damn-where final smash, but that’s not really something to blame him for. Mario’s just being an attention whore with that madness.
13 Teach Geography
Somewhere down in the crap-stained shame archives at Nintendo HQ, you’ll find the place where terrible games go to die. Hotel Mario, that Phillips CDi Zelda game, all of that stuff. If you dare to sift through the skips down there, among all the unsold Virtual Boys and such, you’ll also find Mario is Missing.
This obscure turd of an edutainment game hit the PC and SNES in 1993 and is notable for being the first title to (exclusively) feature Luigi in the starring role. In this one, Bowser has set his dastardly, bastardly and lizardly sights on Earth for once; sending Koopalings to cities across the planet to steal famous artifacts or landmarks. Mario tries to thwart him and is himself kidnapped, leaving only Luigi. The upshot of which is a koopa-stompin’ adventure which drops a little knowledge on our butts as well. Defeating enemies grants you pieces of the artefact in question, which you must return to their original locations. Once there, a little geography quiz pertaining to your location kicks in, with correct answers seeing the city ‘secured.’ Fact-tacular.
Mario is Missing boasts difficulty levels from preschool to adult, so nobody is safe from its informative wrath.
12 Get with Daisy
Gentlemen prefer blondes, as the old saying goes. If you ask me, I’d say that’s a steaming heap of horse bowel movements, frankly. Preferences aren’t as simple as all that, whatever horror movies and the popularity of dumb blonde protagonist victims may have taught you.
Still, it holds true for some. Nintendo’s main man Mario has been trying to get into Peach’s heart for a couple decades now, after all. If only she wasn’t always in another castle; there’d probably be a whole tribe of freakish moustachioed babies with flowing Rapunzel hair for the Toads to take care of by now.
Luigi, for his part, has a predilection for brunettes. He has his own princess counterpart, in the shape of Daisy. I hear she’s into much dirtier stuff than Peach. Just look at her eyes; that’s a Fifty Shades of Grey fan’s eyes if ever I’ve seen them.
11 Express His Emotions
Now, I don’t know if I’m just being a special snowflake who has to root for the underdog, but there’s an interesting thing about Luigi. For me, personally, he’s always seemed to have much more personality than his brother. You can imagine the poor guy in therapy, crying about how Mario got undeservedly famous with his one dimensional woohoos and it’s-a-mes. In terms of character, Mario is the gaming world’s equivalent of a Kardashian, riding the fame train because of that thing she did with that guy on social media one time (at band camp).
Luigi is vulnerable, gets scared, and is a little infamous for his cowardice. He’s also much more human for it and far easier to relate to in my view. As far as it’s possible to relate to Nintendo’s Mushroom Kingdom menagerie, that is. Don’t be afraid to unleash your feminine side every now and then, Mario, it’ll be good for you.
10 Sass with Style
Following on from that last entry, there’s no doubt that Luigi is the sassier of the brothers. When it comes to Super Smash Bros., check out the taunts on the guy. For a d-pad tapping moment, his cowardly persona is behind him. He’s got as much spirit as any business-suited mom with sensibly bobbed hair DEMANDING TO SEE THE MANAGER OF THIS DAMN STORE.
Busting cool poses aside, Luigi has one of the very few taunts in the series able to deal damage (his boot scuffing kick), and even spike opponents with the right positioning. Being killed by this ‘move’ is the greatest and absolute ultimate insult the Smash series can inflict; the recipient must retire from the game –nay, gaming itself—forever, taking up priesthood in the Church of the Almighty Luigi. That’s some power right there.
9 Slide Around Like Torvill and Dean in Their Heyday
This isn’t Mortal Kombat, friends. There are no damn palette swaps here. Luigi, just a green-dungareed take on Mario? We won’t have any of that crazy talk around here. Them’s fightin’ words.
Much of the time, when platformers feature both brothers as playable characters, they’re distinguished in two main ways, gameplay-wise: jumping ability and traction. As we’ve seen, the lankier of the brothers get more height on his jumps, but there’s a penalty that goes with this, as he slides a little more. On precarious pitfall-polluted paths (now there’s a sentence that’ll tie your tongue in a knot like a dirty party trick), Luigi can’t afford to be reckless. That split second he often takes to slide to a halt can be deadly. After all, when you’re languishing at the bottom of a bit with a shattered tibula, fibula and primula (which is actually a cheese brand, scratch that last), your extra athleticism counts for naught.
8 Actually Fight Those Damn Ghosts
Generally in a Super Mario title, ghosts are jerks. What with being undead and all, it’s no surprise that the main man’s simple just-stomp-on-their-damn-head combat tactic doesn’t yield him great results here. If Boos are famous for anything, it’s their invulnerability. That and their equally lame tactic of chasing you when your back’s turned and freezing when you’re facing them. They’re more obstacle than enemy, for the most part, and the game's ghost houses are some of the most frustrating Mario stages as a result.
Not so for Luigi, however, since he met shrivelled old scientist Professor E. Gadd. Luigi has a Poltergust 5000, a sophisticated piece of Ghostbusters-ish tech that lets him suck the specters in like a supernatural Dyson. What do you have, Mario? A high-tech water gun in Super Mario Sunshine? Nuts to that. Get on Luigi’s level.
7 Harness the Negative Zone
Back in the land of Smash Bros., the two brothers’ Final Smash attacks tell quite a lot about their personality. Mario, being the attention seeking hero with an ego the size of Kanye West’s that he is, goes for all-out immolation with an enormous fireball attack. Look at me, this move is saying. Pay freaking attention to me, or I’ll wither and die like Freddy Krueger when Nancy turns away from him at the end of the movie.
That sort of thing isn’t Luigi’s style. Instead, the green machine goes for something a little more understated, while still working in his dancing skills. By busting a move, our man can create the ‘Negative Zone,’ a trippy area of the battlefield where opponents are slowed and vulnerable, while also afflicting them with status conditions.
6 Become Invisible
As veterans of Nintendo’s handhelds will know, Super Mario 64 was ported to the DS as a launch title. It was prettied up to within an inch of the original’s ugly-ass blocky life for its handheld debut, but there were also some major differences in this version. Blasphemously, you began play as Yoshi.
The idea was, Bowser had imprisoned Mario, Luigi and Wario in the castle as well. Saving their sorry butts unlocked each character’s cap in the levels, allowing Yoshi to transform into that hero. It also gave you access to the corresponding Power Flower, which grants an exclusive ability. This transformed Luigi into Vanish Luigi, enabling him to pass through opponents unharmed and unnoticed, as well as cruise straight on through some solid obstacles. Vanish Mario was also a thing in the original, of course, but the remake made the power exclusive to his brother and Mario hasn’t had access to it again since. Invisibility is Luigi’s thing now, dude. Get used to it.
On that note, let’s take a look at the other most coveted superpower of all time. Sure, Mario can get himself the winged cap in a number of different games, and he can also fly in a couple of different forms. Tanooki Mario, for instance, can ‘fly’ in a loose sense of the term (loose enough to damn well drop right off and roll under the kitchen counter), with a little button-mashing.
But hell, that doesn’t cut it. Anyone can do that, with a little help from power-ups. Remember when Icarus made those wings and flew like a damn natural? Easy. Admittedly, said wings fell apart and he plummeted to a squishy death, but before that, he was totally flying. So do millions of us every year, with help from power-ups called aeroplanes. Luigi, however, needs no outside help. By harnessing the Luigi Cyclone and Green Missile special moves, he’s as manoeuvrable in the air as the Blue Angels.
4 Claim to Have a Year Named in His Honor
For most of the character’s existence, our poor buddy Luigi has been derided as the loser, the forgotten one, the Green Mario. The player two. Who wants to be player two? Nobody, that’s who; it’s the beta male/younger sibling’s position. Or so says closed-minded society.
Nintendo has gotten tired with all the Luigi snark in recent years and are steadily trying to raise his profile a bit. In 2013, they kicked off a promotion they called the ‘Year of Luigi,’ which ran from March to the March of the following year. They marked this special event in the usual way: with a lot of campy BS in Nintendo Direct presentations. You know, Shigeru Miyamoto playing the banjo while dressed as Luigi, that sort of thing. Several releases in the green mean machine’s honour also hit that year, including the much-anticipated sequel to Luigi’s Mansion.
3 Drop a Little 'Operation L' on Our Butts
The Year of Luigi was more than a chance for Nintendo execs to humiliate themselves in Direct presentations for our enjoyment and/or bemusement. It was more than a shady ploy to sell more of their upcoming titles with Luigi on the front of the box. So much more, friends.
It was also a chance to cynically re-package Dr. Mario. The classic puzzler was given the cash-in treatment in the form of –predictably—Dr. Luigi, a Wii U download title. As a long-time fan of the puzzler, I was straight on board with this promotional version. My favourite addition was the Operation L mode, which saw two capsules conjoined in an L formation falling onto the playing field at a time. Blatant fanservice it may have been, but Dr Luigi got seventeen thumbs up from me for sure.
2 Take a Dump on John Leguizamo's Career
As anyone with any gaming experience knows, movie adaptions never end well. Or rather, they can, but it’s about as common as taking a stroll through the woods and coming across a yeti, a unicorn and Jimmy Hoffa having a threesome. Which does not, I hardly need to tell you, happen every day.
Personally, I’d say that Uwe ‘Boll-ocks’ Boll’s notorious Alone in the Dark movie was the worst. Most people, though, would probably point you in the direction of the craptacular Mario Bros. film. Bob Hoskins was unfortunate enough to play Mario and John Leguizamo was right there alongside him as his brother. Both are legitimate actors and I’ve no idea how they got roped into starring in this 1993 film. A bad time was had by all.
1 Buy ALL the Things!
Say what you will about Mario’s one-dimensional, glory hog hero exploits, but there’s one thing you can’t deny: he’s not a soulless mercenary. He’s pummeled Bowser’s scaly man-plums and saved the Mushroom Kingdom time and again, never asking any payment for his efforts. With this, and his unusual use of the many coins he encounters, you have to assume that the man is flat damn broke.
Luigi, meanwhile, is minted. As Luigi’s Mansion players can attest, he gathers an absurd amount of cash and jewels throughout the game; none of which he’s inclined to return. You can imagine him rolling around in piles of banknotes like a moustachioed Scrooge McDuck, going solid-gold helicopter shopping and embarking on spending sprees that the entire Kardashian clan combined couldn’t rival.