Thursday, April 14, 2011

From Sprite Mirror to Superstar

Some time ago, during a quick play of Super Mario Galaxy 2, I came to a startling realization. It was something I'd always wondered if it would ever happen, and was surprised it occurred long ago and I never noticed. It was something that has both its upsides and downsides, and now that it's here, I wonder if it was better the way before.

Luigi is no longer a neglected character.

One needn't look past Super Mario Galaxy 2 to find out that this is true. In that game, Luigi is not only any longer a prize for beating the game, but instead, becomes a playable character before even reaching the halfway point. Looking farther back, he appears in more than just the Galaxy games. He's guaranteed to be playable in spin-offs, was reunited with his brother for adventures in the Mario and Luigi series, and even starred in his very own game a decade ago. With such a prestigious resumé, there's no way he can still be The Eternal Understudy; if he is, then so is just about every other game character in existence.

This is quite a feat for a character who debuted as nothing but a recoloured sprite mirror of Mario in the Mario Brothers arcade game. He almost broke out into his own when he was given unique abilities in games like Super Mario Brothers 2 and Super Mario Brothers, uh... 2, both the Japanese and different USA versions, and then even received different coloured overalls in Super Mario World. After that, he began to fade into obscurity, being completely absent from Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, and practically nowhere to be found in Super Mario RPG, appearing only in the occasional spin-off. But it all changed when Luigi got his very own game in Luigi's Mansion, and he's now every bit as famous as Mario.

Now, there are plenty of other characters in the Mario universe who are truly neglected. For starters, we have Waluigi, a character created as a companion to the doppelganger Wario in Mario Tennis and has appeared in just about every spin-off game since. He and Wario are a great mischievous duo, and yet he has never appeared in one of Wario's own games. There's a lot of potential there; from a co-op Wario Land game to the wacky microgames of the WarioWare series, Waluigi would be a perfect fit for Wario titles.

In a similar vein, we have Birdo, who first appeared in Super Mario Brothers 2 USA and was brought back from obscurity as Yoshi's doubles partner in Mario Tennis. She shares much in common with Yoshi, in both appearance and abilities, yet she has never appeared in one of Yoshi's games; the two would make a great co-op team in a new Yoshi's Island title. As it is, she may be fading back into the forgotten; she was excluded from a few of the recent spin-offs titles such as Mario Sports Mix, where she is nothing but one of the generic races in the crowds.

Ever since this realization, Luigi has become less endearing. He no longer has the charm of being a character you seldom see, and are lucky when the occasional spin-off appears where he gets a chance to shine as playable. He still has his personality and makes a great character in games like the Mario and Luigi series, and even though he will never be the same, it's still nice to see he's made it. Now, let's just hope some other, truly neglected Mario characters can get their shot at the spotlight.

Is anyone actually surprised that my first blog entry involved the Mario series?


Maxi said...

Well I am not surprised to see your first blog post about the Mario series.

As for the main content of the post here are my thoughts.

I always liked Luigi more than Mario. I think that as you stated Luigi was an underdog. He really didn't have much over Mario.That changed in Super Mario Bros 2(US version). He and Princess Toadstool was my most used characters because they both stood out. Even Toad had something over Mario. Toad could pick up items quicker than anybody. Mario was average.Through the years Luigi got more personality from many sources and games. Most notably the Super mario Bros Super Show and The Mario and Luigi series. While I think that Luigi has grown more into the spotlight he still is behind Mario by a small amount.

As for Birdo and Waluigi I personally don't think that they have the presence to step out and do a game on their own.I agree that a co-op game would work well though.

Maxi said...

It wasn't really surprising that the subject of your first post is Mario characters.

On to Luigi.I always liked Luigi more that Mario. He was the underdog and he had an interesting personality. He was more interesting than Mario. His stand out games I would say are The Mario and Luigi series and Luigi's Mansion.While he is more reconizable and popular than he was I think he has a little more to go to step completely out of Mario's shadow.

As for Birdo and Waluigi I don't think a game based around them and only them would work. I do agree that a co-op game like you said would work.

CM30 said...

What about Bowser? Okay, he's a commonly used Mario character, but we've never really had a game where he was the sole playable character and where Mario didn't have a major role. Compare this to Luigi (two games), Peach (one game), Wario (many games) and Toad (perhaps Wario's Woods), and it seems a bit annoying.

Waluigi's reason for not being playable however might just come down to this awkard scenario:

1. For Waluigi to get his own game, he needs a personality deeper than 'evil Luigi counterpart'.

2. For Waluigi to have personality, he needs to have an important role in a game which gives him some sort of character depth and a 'world'/'series'.

Maybe Nintendo doesn't use him outside spinoffs because they think it'd take too much effort to give him any real character/personality? Alternatively, maybe neither the Wario Land or WarioWare makers care for spinoff game characters.

NinSage said...

haha, Mop loves Birdo... no surprise there.

Good read, Mop.

Personally, Luigi has always been my favorite character from the Mario universe. Even back in the NES days I would offer to be 2nd player just so I could use Luigi!

I am absolutely hoping we someday see a Luigi's Mansion 2 or a Luigi's Castle or Luigi's old creepy Hotel or whatever!