Poor Luigi... Mario gets all the credit and all the best games, and his brother is stuck hunting ghosts and dating the lesser princess who has A FREAKY THIRD EYE IN THE BACK OF HER HEAD! That's not exactly the most auspicious career for a video game hero.
For me, though, Luigi has always been my favorite Mario character since I got the chance to play him in Super Mario Bros. 2. There's just something awesome about him as he stands in the shadow cast by his most famous brother. Today we salute him with a collection of trivia you may not have realized about the lanky hero!
See also: 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Legend of Zelda
His Name Is a Pun: Since Mario became an Italian after an encounter with Nintendo of America's irate landlord Mario Segale over some unpaid rent, it was only fitting that his brother also be given an Italian name. Luigi's is supposedly the name of a nearby pizza place, but the truth is that "ruiji" in Japanese means "similar." For much of his video game life, Luigi was just a color swap of Mario, making it a total pun. Unfortunately, that sort of half-existence was also the result of...
He Was Colored to Look Like an Enemy: Of course, the brothers first appeared in Mario Bros. eliminating enemies from the New York sewers before discovering their source in the Mushroom Kingdom. Limitations on the arcade hardware couldn't generate a distinctive second character, so Mario was cloned to create Luigi. There was still a problem because of the limited color palette, a problem that was humiliatingly solved by giving Luigi the same coloring as the Shellcreeper. That's right, his distinctive green outfit was the result of the inability to create an original character.
He Got in Trouble Briefly for "Promoting Lesbianism": In Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, Luigi celebrates good shots with an L-shaped hand gesture. Some interpreted that as the American Sign Language word for "lesbian," and it caused a very mild controversy. In reality, Luigi isn't signing "lesbian," since he's using the wrong hand and in the wrong position. Regardless, hero that he is, we assume Luigi supports LGBTs of all walks of life.
He Can Beat Super Smash Bros. Melee Without Doing Anything: If you're having trouble getting through the single-player mode on the hardest difficulty in Super Smash Bros. Melee, there's a simple two-step process: 1. Pick Luigi. 2. Don't Move. It sounds daft, but it's true. YouTube user Omega Tyrant proved that by carefully selecting the right level and port for the right opponent, Luigi can topple every combatant by not fighting back until the other character ends up dead in a pit. That is the most amazing metaphor for nonviolent resistance ever.
His Fondest Wish Is to Be a Better Plumber: In Super Mario RPG, Mario and his party visit Star Hill, where all the world's wishes made upon stars are generated before falling to Earth. You can find a variety of wishes there, but hidden among them is that of Luigi, who wants to be a great plumber like his brother. That's because...
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He Is the Plumber for Castle Dracula: In Castlevania: Lords of Shadows -- Mirror of Fate, you run across several skeleton knights in the bowels of Dracula's castle. These often have notes attached to them, and one of them reads...
The terrible state of the pipes down here would perturb even my brother Mario.
Some parts have rusted terribly, while others are covered with fungus due to the high humidity.
Not all the mushrooms look good to eat either. Who knows what might happen if I eat one?
Congratulations! You just found Luigi's corpse!
See also: Ten Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Sega Dreamcast
Luigi Gave Bowser His Most Humiliating Defeat: Mario has these epic battles with the King of the Koopas, but Luigi topped all of that with the power of pantsing. In the ending of the DOS version of Mario Is Missing, Luigi confronts Bowser and removes his carapace, leaving him in polka-dotted boxers and too embarrassed to further face Luigi. When Bowser finally comes crawling back to beg for his shell, Luigi tells him he threw it off the balcony, and when Bowser looks, Luigi kicks him out of a window to land in the snow.
Yeah...somehow that seems a lot worse than dumping him in a pit of lava.
He Can Play the Violin: In WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Luigi shows off some considerable violin skills. He shares his name with composer Luigi Boccherini, who gained considerable fame for playing violin repertoire on the cello and wrote a series of string quartets that are popular to this day.
He Can Build a Giant Robot Version of His Head: In Super Paper Mario, Luigi is betrayed by some goombas and ends up hypnotized into becoming the antagonist Mr. L, also known as the Green Thunder. In this capacity, he serves as a foil to Mario, even taking on his real brother inside of a giant "Brobot" that looks like Luigi's head. This might be a metaphor for the good-hearted Luigi being trapped inside an artificial construct.
His Voice Actor Has a Severe Problem With Doubles: There are a lot of names associated with portraying Luigi, including John Leguizamo and Danny Wells, but Tony Rosato was the voice behind the Luigi in the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoons. Sadly, he is also afflicted with Capgras delusion, a mental disorder in which the patient is convinced that loved ones have been kidnapped and replaced with exact doubles. This delusion eventually led to his wife leaving him out of fear for the safety of their daughter, as well as a two-year stint being held without bail in maximum-security lockup.
It's a sad coincidence. Luigi started out as a carbon copy of Mario, and struggles to maintain his identity to this day, while one of the people who portrays him ironically finds himself beset on all sides by imaginary doubles.
Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.