Where’s Waluigi? A Look at the Mushroom Kingdom’s Least Popular Resident
Look, it’s the teaser trailer for Mario Tennis Open!
Looks awesome, yeah? I agree. But wait, isn’t somebody missing? Hmm, no sign of Wario. Or Donkey Kong. That’s weird. Oh well, it’s just an early teaser trailer, I’m sure those guys will all be in the final game, along with a bunch of other Mushroom Kingdom superstars and superfreaks.
Including this douche, more likely than not. Sigh. The thing is, if he “belongs” in any game, it’s a sequel to the game that unfortunately spawned him. The funny thing is, after stinking up the joint for twelve years, he’s not even my least favorite “filler” character in the Mario series anymore. To be honest, I was shocked this gangly, unlovable, purple and black sack of festering chinchilla turds wasn’t featured in Mario Kart 7. Maybe even a little let down? Let’s explore the Waluigi back-lash… and the back-lash to the back-lash!
If you’re not already familiar, let’s back it up and examine Luigi’s bizarre doppelganger, and maybe get a handle on why he’s so widely hated.
Waluigi’s first appearance was in Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64. And there’s our first red flag, actually. Prior to this, every playable character in a Mario spin-off originated in a “real” Mario game, meaning a main series platform-jumping adventure title. Everybody from familiar, famous faces like Luigi, Yoshi and Bowser, to the obscure weirdos like Daisy, Birdo and Wario all made a name for themselves in a “real” Mario game before joining a round of Mario Golf or getting invited to a Mario Party.
So Waluigi loses some legitimacy right off the bat. Not only that, but he wasn’t even created internally by Nintendo, but rather by Camelot. Granted, Camelot is more or less in charge of the Mario Golf and Tennis series, but that just makes it all the more obvious that Waluigi was created as a result of “Shit, Wario doesn’t have a doubles partner!” instead of “Hey, we have a great idea for a new character!”
But on top of that, he negates Luigi and Wario’s most entertaining character traits. Over the years, and especially in the RPG spin-offs, it’s become clear that even in-universe Luigi is constantly trapped in Mario’s considerable, plumber-shaped shadow. Luigi is most definitely a second banana, getting none of the fame and adulation poured all over Mario’s portly, spaghetti-fed frame. So why in the world would a would-be villain dedicate his life to being the evil version of Luigi? Who would possibly want or care to take Luigi down? That’s like being a supervillain who only wants revenge against Robin but doesn’t give a shit about the guy in the flying mammal costume. It doesn’t make sense.
So what about Wario? What’s the harm in giving the greedy garlic-grabber a sidekick? Well, that is the problem. Who the hell would want to be buddies with Wario? At best he’s a greedy, rude, weird bully that probably smells bad. At worst, he’s a Mario-obssessed, brain-washing psychopath… that probably smells bad.
Just like Luigi really isn’t the type to attract a crazed stalker, Wario really isn’t the type to attract a
crazed stalker brother-in-arms. And much like Wario’s relationship to the original Bros. is kept ambiguous, so is Waluigi’s relationship, not only to the Mario Bros., but to Wario as well. It kind of seems like even Nintendo and Camelot aren’t too keen on integrating him that much into the Mario universe. It might seem hypocritical to put Waluigi on blast while Wario remains one of my most-favorite Mario characters, but Wario has a lot more going for him. He got his start in “real” Mario games, beat Waluigi to the whole “evil doppelganger” thing by eight years, and you know, chose to be the evil doppelganger of a character that makes sense.
And an upside-down L is a stupid logo. It worked for Wario, because W is a letter… backwards seven is not. Look out Luigi, it’s “Backwards-Seven-uigi!”
But I’m probably just being a nitpicky nerd, right? Honestly, yeah, I am. I should just relax and be happy that Waluigi will likely stay in the spin-off ghetto, and that Wario was deemed important enough to have a character pulled out of thin air just so he could have a unique tennis buddy. But it seems that some people have it in for Waluigi even more than I do:
Cracked listed Waluigi as the third most annoying video game character. He beat Baby Mario and his ear-destroying screams, Slippy “Fox, get this guy off me” Toad, Natalya the bullet-magnet, Navi (who seems quiet and reserved compared to Skyward Sword’s Fi) and even the disturbingly
erotic creepy Tingle. Here’s Cracked’s take on the creation of Wario’s tennis partner: “[They could] Either dig into the Mario archives and bring back another classic villain, like they did with Birdo and Shy Guy, or put ‘Wa’ in front of ‘Luigi’ and create the biggest piece of shit character of all time. Sadly, they chose the latter.” Ouch.
Games Radar listed him as a character to never trust around children. They go on to call him a “poor-man’s Wario” who likely spends his non-Tennis time living in the park as a creepy transient perv.
Waluigi has received a lot of hate since his inception. If you need to see more of the published vitriol against the anti-Luigi, his Wikipedia page is a sadly hilarious (hilariously sad?) place to find plenty of it…
…But check out some other parts of that page, too. Waluigi, against all odds, has developed a little bit of a cult following. Charles Martinet, the dude who voices most of the male Mario cast seems to have an especially big soft spot for Backwards-Seven-uigi, mentioning in an interview that he “would love to see a Waluigi game” where players have to cheat to win.
The guy who runs Mario Fan Games Galaxy has made Martinet’s dream a reality with a homebrew sidescroller called Psycho Waluigi. The game looks pretty impressive, and revolves around Waluigi’s new-found telekinesis… it sort of looks like what would happen if Half-Life 2’s gravity gun found its way into the Mushroom Kingdom. Here’s the first level of Psycho Waluigi:
Gamervision genuinely seems to love Waluigi, with a list of reasons why they think he rules. “Here are ten reasons, whittled down from a list we’ve come up with that numbers in the hundreds of thousands.” One of the “hundreds of thousands” of reasons Gamervision lists is one I’ve heard from fans and haters alike. I’ll let this comparison pic do the talking:
Dude is a dead-ringer not just for Dick Dastardly, but all the old tymey silent film villains of yore. It’s hard to deny that Waluigi looks more likely to tie beautiful maidens to train tracks than drive go-karts with turtles.
But there’s a little more depth to Waluigi’s fanbase than appreciation for his classically villainous looks. While in a lot of ways, his personality does mirror Wario’s, there are some pretty big differences between the two. While Wario is incongruously vain and in love with himself, Waluigi, seemingly taking a cue from the tidal wave of real-world hate leveled against him, is a self-pitying, self-loathing, paranoid loser that thinks everything goes right for everyone except himself. Charles Martinet has stated this is one of his favorite aspects of the character, as did Gamervision. I have to admit it adds a fun level to the character and makes him an interesting foil for Wario. His status as a luckless, vile loser is pretty funny, and likely what got him fans in the first place. If Wario filled the role of official Mario universe butt monkey in the past, the torch has been very definitively passed to this lanky, black and purple barrel of stale potato chip-farts.
This puts the earlier statements about Waluigi kind of ruining the best parts about Luigi and Wario in a very different light. Only some kind of idiot dumb-ass weirdo would become obsessed with Luigi and try to join forces with Wario… and that’s pretty much the point of Waluigi exactly.
So yeah, while I’m still not a fan of the big W-L, I’d say my bitter hate of the guy has subsided considerably since his arrival way back in 2000. I can take him or leave him… as long as he stays out of the main games.
So if Waluigi is no longer the worst filler character in the Mario spin-offs, who inherited his dookie-smelling crown? Join me next time and we’ll take a tour of the Mario characters I wish would just go away. I might just open a portal to Hell and show you the lamest filler character possible that thankfully doesn’t exist… yet.