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Can Luigi Make It On His Own: An Analysis

by Jeff Marchiafava on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Luigi has been the wingman on countless adventures over the past 30 years, but this weekend marks the retail release of the back-up plumber's very own platforming game, New Super Luigi U. Does Mario's lesser half have what it takes to be the star of the show? We examine some newly obtained photographic evidence to assess Luigi's chances of success.

New Super Luigi U was released earlier this summer as DLC, so we already know it's good. How the game will fare at retail, however, is uncertain. Mario has become synonymous with quality platforming experiences; Luigi has always just been the guy that player two gets stuck with. Whether Luigi can overcome that instinctual disappointment in the minds of consumers depends largely on how he fares in his new adventure.

Thanks to a secret source (i.e. Nintendo's official website), we have some new, revealing evidence to help determine if Luigi is up to the task.

Exhibit A: Luigi's Vanity
Wow. Luigi finally gets top billing and the first thing he does is erect a giant monument in his own image. He's like a crazed dictator – although if he actually was in charge of Mushroom Kingdom, I bet his Toad servants would poison him with one of those purple skull mushrooms and topple that statue within a week, tops. That said, Luigi's self-promotion should help raise consumer awareness for his game, which is good for business. I just wonder if he isn't going overboard; as if the five-story monument wasn't enough, Luigi placed a gold star coin above his head. A bit much, don't you think?
Conclusion: Clearly a skilled tradesman, but suffers from delusions of grandeur

Exhibit B: Luigi At A Tea Party
With Mario out of the picture, gamers have to ask the question: Is Luigi capable of saving the day all on his own? Based on this picture, the answer is clearly no. Bowser may pal around with Mario and company on the tennis court and race track, but when he's trying to take over Mushroom Kingdom, he means business. How is Luigi preparing for his solo feat? By having a nice leisurely tea party with Princess Peach. Earth to Luigi: This isn't Downton Abbey. Bowser is going to kill you.

I don't really care about Luigi's personal safety, but from a commercial standpoint, consumers aren't going to want to buy a sequel to a game where the protagonist dies on the first level and the villain ends up victorious.
Conclusion: Not taking this seriously

Exhibit C: A Poor Sense Of Direction
At first glance this looks like your typical desert setup, with Luigi dutifully trudging along towards the finish line. But take a look at the string of coins. Clearly Luigi is supposed to be going in the opposite direction – he should have slid down the hill and jumped on the head of that weird turtle guy! To Luigi's credit, he hasn't died from one those giant spiky balls yet, but he better get his navigation skills in order soon – there is a time limit for finding the finish line, you know.
Conclusion: You're going the wrong way!

Exhibit D: Luigi's New Friend
Mario's departure gives Luigi the novel opportunity to pick his own sidekick for his new escapade. So who did Luigi decide to go with? Some freak called Nabbit. Apparently, Nabbit is supposed to be a thieving rabbit, but his similarities to Domino's Pizza's the Noid are undeniable – both steal round things (coins and pizzas, respectively), both wear masks and have rabbit ears, and both are incredibly stupid.

My guess is Luigi thinks he'll look cooler if he surrounds himself with d-list sidekicks. However, no one wants to play a game as a squad full of losers – having a pair of generic Toads for players three and four aren't helping matters. At least Yoshi makes an appearance, though given the rest of the cast, he should probably fire his agent.
Conclusion: What a bunch of losers

Exhibit E: Luigi's "Abilities"
Nintendo's website for New Super Luigi U boasts that Luigi has his own set of unique skills. The picture above demonstrates one of these remarkable abilities. What power is that, you ask? According to the site, "[Luigi] slides while stopping... so watch those edges." That sounds terrible, but on the plus side, it's not like there are going to be any edges or bottomless pits in a platforming game. Oh wait.
Conclusion: Sliding his way to certain doom

Exhibit F: Luigi's Jumping Power
Nintendo's website boasts another power unique to Luigi: "He jumps higher... and stays in the air longer." First of all, Nintendo needs to learn how ellipses work. Secondly, those powers are one and the same; if you can jump higher, you are obviously going to stay in the air longer. I'm guessing Nintendo is referring to Luigi's patented flutter kick that he does at the end of jumps, but either way it doesn't look like he's clearing that phallic lava monster.
Conclusion: Not gonna make it

Exhibit G: A Really Big Bullet
This is the first in a series of images that reveals what kind of dangers Luigi will be up against. Luigi clearly wants to prove he's just as capable of a hero as his brother, and is taking a "bigger is better" approach to upping the threat level. However, that Bullet Bill is ridiculously huge. You can't even jump over it, as he goes right to the top of the screen. Look at that poor yellow Toad spin in vain – he's definitely going to die.

I'm guessing Luigi supersized his foes out of his own feelings of inadequacy, but maybe he should invest in some therapy before hitting the battlefield. Bigger isn't always better, and I have a feeling he has set the difficulty bar way too high for his own abilities.
Conclusion: Needs help of the professional variety

Exhibit H: ???
I can't tell what's going on here, but Luigi is probably about to die. The only question is how. I'm guessing he's going to get electrocuted by that lightning bolt and then drown in the poisonous purple swamp water, possibly after being pummeled by the sumo turtle at the top of the screen.
Conclusion: Too many deaths

Exhibit I: Bullet Hell
Yeah, he's definitely dying here. There are Bullet Bills all over the place, and as Nintendo warned/boasted, Luigi can't even run without sliding all over the place. I'm sure navigating a barrage of speeding bullets on a small, moving platform won't present any kind of challenge. On the plus side, at least he's smart enough to not be going for those coins – that's the best decision he's made so far.
Conclusion: Focused, but still screwed

Exhibit J: Pure Chaos
This screen doesn't even look possible. He's got angry wigglers, chain chomps, and an endless row of munchers gunning for him – not to mention that jerk Nabbit providing a constant distraction by flagrantly ignoring all damage. My guess is Luigi just photoshopped himself into this screen to look heroic – another common practice for crazed, self-obsessed dictators. If not, he better grab Nabbit's ears and ride him all the way to the finish line.
Conclusion: More pro-Luigi propaganda?

Exhibit K: Luigis Are Everywhere
We get it, Luigi, you're in love with yourself. This kind of self-infatuation is just sick. Hey, Luigi: If you really want to convince gamers that you're as cool as your brother, why not practice a little humility – or just practice not dying so that players have a chance of winning should they actually buy your game.
Conclusion: Out-of-control ego

The Verdict:
From an adventurer's perspective, Luigi doesn't stand a chance against Bowser. He's constantly going the wrong way, he has a penchant for sliding into pits, and he spends more time fawning over his own image than he does battling bad guys.

From a retail standpoint, however, things aren't so glum. Despite being a natural born loser, Luigi has a number of things going for him. First, he has good name recognition. When people hear Luigi's name, they immediately think "not as good as Mario" – but they still know who he is. Luigi is also a shameless self-promoter, which will further help in getting the word out. Even though he hangs around with stupid wannabes like Nabbit and generic Toads, he managed to rope Yoshi in for the ride and placed him front and center on the box art. Most importantly, Luigi is cheap; Nintendo is hedging its bets on Luigi's solo adventure with a $29.99 price tag. Considering the fact that Luigi found mild success in a series about cleaning mansions and there ain't a whole lot of other games coming out for the Wii U, Luigi will probably be triumphant at retail. Nintendo has successfully created an ecosystem where even the weakest characters can survive.

New Super Luigi U releases this Sunday, August 25 on Wii U.