Depending on your familiarity with the Mario series cast of characters, you may be familiar with the character of Waluigi. Waluigi is essentially a dark mirror version of Luigi, like Wario is to Mario. It would be incorrect to call either of these characters villains as aside from Wario’s first appearance, they’re not antagonists to the Mario brothers. In fact, while Wario has appeared in the main series, Waluigi has never featured in any mainline games. So, why am I talking about Waluigi today? So there’s a new Super Smash Bros. game that boasts that everyone is here. Now there has been a group of fans who think that someone has been missed in this roster of ‘everyone’. There has been vocal support for Waluigi to appear in Smash including a group of cosplayers at last weekend’s PAX AUS. So, considering the love for Waluigi, I wanted to consider why this character is the cult classic of the Nintendo world.
So, the first thing that I want to explore about Waluigi is his personality as it were. The interesting thing about the Mario brothers and their Wa- counterparts is, well, they’re all voiced by the same voice actor and they each have an identifiable trait that carries through their voice and mannerisms. Mario is an everyman who is always enthusiastic. Luigi is a coward who perseveres in spite of it. Wario is a gruff grump. What about Waluigi then? Waluigi is full of self-pity. These are the characteristics that Charles Martinet ascribes to each. From this, it’s easy to see how people might gravitate more towards Luigi than Mario. Luigi is a more dynamic character because he is flawed and overcomes those flaws. Now, about Waluigi’s self-pity.
Waluigi’s self-pity is certainly a relatable character trait. At one point or another, we have all pitied ourselves. Also, a character who is always undermining themselves with a lack of confidence. It’s easy to position that guy as the underdog. You want to play as Waluigi to have him pull through a win. However, there’s another aspect of Waluigi. While the self-pity is something Martinet injects into the voice, that is not all that Waluigi is. Animators and the like have added personality through movement. Waluigi’s lankiness means that he moves unlike any other Mario character. His walk is a bunch of right angles configured into human shape. Then, his way of taunting often involves a crotch chop. In some games, Waluigi will even brandish a rose in his mouth such as in the recent Mario Tennis Aces. This suggests a character who is more exuberant than his self-pitying voice. He exudes confidence but his voice carries a kernel of doubt. That’s kind of a compelling character and it’s easy to see how people could be drawn to that.
There’s one final element that is interesting about Waluigi. As mentioned earlier, Waluigi doesn’t feature in the main Mario series. His first appearance was in Mario Tennis. From there he has appeared in Mario Party, Mario Kart, Mario Golf, but never the main series. This suggests that Waluigi could have no interest in evildoing and just shows up when everyone’s hanging out. Whenever Wario needs a doubles partner, he calls Waluigi. Waluigi is ‘that one friend’ in his friend group. This is another relatable moment as we’ve all felt like ‘that one friend’ at one point in time. Waluigi is just interested in the party and the karts.
So that’s why I think there is such a love for Waluigi and why his lack of inclusion in Smash sparked the Internet. Waluigi has many elements that make the perfect fan favourite. In wrestling, he might be described as a heel. Indeed, something about his exaggerated traits makes him Luigi’s doppelganger in the original German sense of the word, his “double walker”. Indeed, if we think of Mario as the original and Luigi as his copy (back when Luigi was merely Green Mario), then Waluigi is a copy of a copy. We all love an underdog and in some ways, Waluigi is the ultimate underdog.
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