Thursday, January 17, 2013

The increasing characterization of Luigi

When Luigi debuted on the NES, he had one role, he was the second player  in a two player game.  He was a palate swap, an option for friends to play together.

As time went on, he evolved into so much more.

Super Mario Brother's and SMB2, Luigi begins the first attempts to differentiate himself.  His sprite is a bit more different and this begins his long standing twist of being able to jump higher while having less traction.  This generally was his only role.

Until the Paper Mario series started.  In the first game, Luigi keeps a diary.  While he doesn't go on any of the adventures,  he does talk about them, and how he's scared of ghosts.

That one line has had a dramatic effect on the rest of his characterization.  Mario RPG was on the 64.  The first game for the gamecube was "Luigi's Mansion"  In it, Mario is captured and Luigi captures ghosts in order to save him.

The game was very good, if a tad repetitive and short.  It also was the first Mario series game to let Luigi take a starring role.  (Yes, we are ignoring Mario Is Missing) And, in it, we do see that Luigi may be braver than Mario.  Mario has no problem with going into pits of fire to save Peach.  Luigi is terrified of ghosts and still does it anyway.

In Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, we see glimpses of him having his own adventures, that he continually lies about.

In Super Paper Mario?  He's an outright villain.  Okay, he was brainwashed, but he still attacked the heroes and was part of the final boss.  The reason why he was the perfect host for the final villain was never said... but Super Smash Brothers has a few hints.

But before I get there, there is one other aspect to Luigi.  His job in the Mario and Luigi series is to provide a comic relief. However, in doing so, he also reveals various aspects of his personality.  He is either  a heavy sleeper or is completely unfazed by Bowser.  He will try to save his brother.  He doesn't like it when he is lied too (though, again, he does lie himself)  and he has some sort of dark secret in his past.

Now, onto Brawl.

While Luigi debuted as a palette swap of Mario in the first game (with his normal jump higher/less traction schtick) , his skill set in Melee grew a bit more diverse.  In Brawl, he only has the basic Mario moves, he is faster than Mario, and his Final smash involves weaponizing "The Dark Side he embraced in his brother's shadow."  Yep, Luigi has an evil side and he CAN conciously use it to distort reality.

So, to recap, we went from "a bit taller than his brother while jumping higher with less traction" to "A comic relief character with a penchant for lying, who will face his worst fear in order to save his brother, has become a villain at some points, and can distort reality through the power of his evil side."

Makes him a bit more awesome, BA, and frightening.  Doesn't it? 

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