By Matthew Rosen
Despite the fact that I love politics, even I have to admit that it gets exhausting every once in awhile. Because of that, I decided to write a non-political article that everyone can be interested in. On top of that, we all could use non-stressful articles during finals. I, of course, will continue to write political articles, but the idea of more relaxing themes like this seems fun.
Recently, I saw a social media post pop up that essentially said I don’t care what zodiac sign you are, what really matters is who you choose to play in Mario Kart. I tend to agree with this theory, as your favorite Mario character certainly says more about you than your zodiac sign. Personally, my Mario character always has and always will be Luigi. That social media post has inspired me to write this article and defend my claim that Luigi is a better character than Mario. When Luigi was first created, he was simply a Player 2. He was even known as just the “palette swap” of Mario, or in other words, Green Mario. There was absolutely no difference between Luigi and his older brother besides the color of their clothing. Now, 35 years after his creation, he has developed into his own, distinct and unique character.
Most people know that Luigi grew to be taller than Mario, but most don’t know that Luigi is faster, jumps higher, and is smarter than him, which is shown off in games like Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Brothers 2, and Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Where Mario has very generic physical abilities, Nintendo gave Luigi special features that made him different. He has strengths (his intelligence, speed and jumping abilities), and weaknesses (he skids when he stops running, and is sometimes referred to as “cowardly,” which I get to later). He also has a unique weapon which is no doubt the coolest in the Mario Universe. Nintendo gave him the Poltergust 5000 in his Luigi’s Mansion games, which is a vacuum-like weapon used for fighting ghosts, which is particularly useful in the Mario Universe. The Poltergust also turns into Luigi’s famous go-kart in the Mario Kart games. And finally, he was given a very cool Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Brawl called the Negative Zone. While it is not my favorite special move in the Nintendo universe, it is definitely one of the more unique attacks. It creates a bubble around Luigi called the Negative zone which makes all the players who are trapped inside dizzy, slow, and weak, while leaving Luigi largely unaffected.
Something even more important than his physical uniqueness is his personality development. Despite starting off as a “palette swap” of Mario, Luigi has grown into having his own distinct personality. Luigi is more introverted and sometimes considered “cowardly,” but is also much more loyal and persevering than many other Mario characters. Luigi loves his brother and often risks his life to save or support his brother all the time. There are even theories that Luigi has some form of anxiety disorder. Whether the theory is true or not, he certainly exhibits some of the symptoms which are much more relatable to real life people. We see Luigi in distress, fearful, crying, jealous, nervous, having nightmares, among other things. Despite these fears, he always comes through in the end showing intense bravery, loyalty, skill, and tenacity. These qualities make Luigi much more heroic than his brother.
Some in-game examples to prove these points are seen in Mario is Missing, Mario & Luigi Dream Team, and Paper Mario. In the game Mario is Missing, Luigi must solve clues to save his brother, showing his intelligence and loyalty. Nintendo even admits in one of their game manuals that Luigi is smarter, calling him the brains to Mario’s brawn. A similar theme can be seen in the popular Luigi’s Mansion games. In Paper Mario, you can read Luigi’s journal which says that he is jealous of Mario since he always goes on adventures and he just wants to be able to do the same just like his big brother who he looks up to. And finally, in Dream Team, Mario navigates Luigi’s dreams where Luigi’s insecurities are also revealed as well as Dream Luigi, which is Luigi’s image the perfect version of himself. Talk about character depth.
Not only is Luigi’s personality distinct from Mario’s, but it is also much more realistic. Mario is a blank slate, or a cardboard cutout character. The term blank slate means that he has no personality of his own so that the player can project themselves onto him. Being a blank slate is two-dimensional, robotic and boring. The only emotion Mario is ever seen exhibiting is confidence, or other emotions relating to his confidence (such as confident anger towards Bowser). These are not a realistic qualities that anybody experiences: no one is that confident and emotionless all of the time. Most people can relate to being scared of scary things, or crying over sad things or being jealous of someone else. Most people can relate more to Luigi’s fear of powerful enemies, but willingness to fight through his weaknesses. That is the quality that makes a person heroic after all: the ability to persevere despite facing adversity. Luigi is simply more realistic, and a more compelling character overall because of his character depth, while Mario was purposefully made to be a boring blank slate character. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Mario. I am of course a Mario fan, but compared to characters like Luigi, he just can’t compete.
While these reasons are completely convincing for me, and probably the more important reasons why Luigi is better than Mario, there are some other reasons, such as Luigi’s more compelling backstory, better relationships, and better rival. The first example is his backstory which features the first days of Mario and Luigi’s lives as Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. Baby Luigi’s first days are actually him being kidnapped by Kamek and stuffed inside a bag for days while Baby Mario is the same confident, emotionless character who has to find Baby Luigi. This storyline is featured in the Yoshi’s Island games, and is often used to explain Luigi’s deep “cowardly” but heroic personality later in life. In fact, I wouldn’t even call Luigi cowardly, and it annoys me when people refer to him as that. Rather than calling him cowardly, we should just call him human, as he shows actual, realistic features common to real people. Wouldn’t you be scared on a crashing hot air balloon, or being attacked by ghosts in a haunted mansion, or having your brother kidnapped, or facing a giant turtle dinosaur, or… well you get my point.
Another reason that Luigi is the better brother is that he has better relationships, namely his relationship with Princess Daisy. Now I’m not gonna lie, I prefer Peach over Daisy; however, there is no doubt that Luigi has a better relationship with Daisy than Mario has with Peach. Daisy and Luigi are clearly in love and have a great, normal relationship while Mario and Peach’s relationship barely seems official. One big example of this is the gold statue of Luigi and Daisy in the course Daisy Circuit in Mario Kart showing them dancing. On the other hand, Mario and Peach’s relationship is shrouded with flirtation, kidnapping, and even theories that Peach doesn’t love Mario back. Maybe one day Mario and Peach will be official, but as of now, we just see flirtation.
One reason for all of this is because Daisy quickly stood up to Bowser and slapped the living daylights out of him in Mario Party 3, showing her toughness. Because of this, Daisy has only been kidnapped once, while Peach has been kidnapped 24 times. Peach never stands up for herself, never takes precautions against Bowser, and is in constant need for attention and saving, which would seem to be a severe strain on anyone’s relationship. While I guess you could say both couples compliment each other perfectly, I have to ask which couple is honestly cuter: the confident/emotionless man with the damsel in distress princess, or the anxious/loyal/introverted man with the charismatic/strong/extroverted princess? I think the answer is clear.
Not only is their romantic relationship better, but their friendships appear better too. Mario and Peach are more pretentious towards others and seem only interested in each other, while Luigi and Daisy are known to be friendly towards everyone in the kingdom. Going back to Luigi’s journals, we see him reminisce on the times where he could just spend time and have fun with his brother and friends playing golf, racing go karts, and throwing parties (referencing Mario Golf, Mario Kart, and Mario Party). Others look at Mario as a hero, while they look at Luigi as a friend.
And finally, Luigi’s rival is much better than Mario’s. Waluigi is a much better character in general than Wario is. Wario is a bland character whose sole purpose is to be greedy and use lame attacks to thwart Mario. On the other hand, Waluigi is another deep character who is noted for being jealous of Mario and Luigi, lonely, and extremely unlucky. Greed is a boring motivation for an anti-hero like Wario, while sadness and self pity is actually an interesting story arch. Waluigi was rejected by his love (Daisy), got stuck with an only friend that is a bad influence (Wario), and feels like nothing good ever happens to him. He just wants to be recognized like the Mario brothers are, making him a more compelling anti-hero with more in-depth characteristics.
For all of these reasons, Luigi is clearly the better Mario brother. Many of my friends tease me by calling Luigi “Green Mario” because they know I will actually defend him. I am very happy that Luigi is now getting his own games, and is now a main character in normal Mario games, and I hope this trend towards Luigi continues. Before I conclude, I just want to say that I really enjoyed writing this non-political article and would be happy to write more (on top of my political articles) in the future if people enjoy this! So as well as letting me know if you like these types of articles, also let me know… What Mario Kart character do YOU play?