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May 22, 2006

The Anti-hero-ization of Mario

Nintendo, in the past few years, has developed an uncanny sense of what I want, occasionally sucking me back into the world of video games like the green pipe used to suck you out of the underground level when you were trying to get the last coin block. And true to form, last week, Nintendo released New Super Mario Bros., the first original Mario 2-D platformer since, I don't know, since I was in high school?

Anyway, I won't bore you with a review of the game and a comparison to earlier entries in the Mario saga*, but there is something important to note. When you start a level, Mario proclaims, "Here I go!" I've played a lot of Mario Kart in my day, and Mario was always the one to shout, "Here we go." "Here I go" was reserved for Wario, Mario's evil twin (I'm not sure if they're actually related). This somehow implied that Wario was greedier and more selfish than Mario, although I never really bought it. I mean, they were both clearly racing out of self interest, it's not like Mario was helping Toad and Yoshi across the finish line.

I didn't think much of it until I played New SMB as Luigi, who nervously screams, "Here we go" when he's shot out of a cannon. Is Luigi being portrayed as the more altruistic Mario brother? That's what I thought until I realized that at the end of every level he tells you, "Yay for me, Luigi," saying his own name, like you didn't know who he was already. And when he starts a level, I think he says, "Oh, 'uigi," which is weird too. It kind of comes off as affable overcompensation for being the less famous brother though.

So what's this all mean? It means I put more thought into Mario's sound bytes than the game designers probably did. Yay for me, Will.

* Although I was ridiculously close to doing so.

Posted by Will at May 22, 2006 11:46 PM


A friend in college pointed out that it was pretty clear that Luigi was, on some level, an alcoholic. He speaks in a warbly, high pitched voice, his jumping in Super Mario Bros. II is frantic and bizarre, his face is often red and he shouts things inappropriately.

Just think about it... maybe he's Mario's drunk twin brother?

Posted by: isaac at May 23, 2006 10:24 AM

I've never seen Luigi's face red, and I've never associated drunkenness with a high-pitched voice. Although it should be noted that on the Donkey Kong cartoon show, Pauline (the girl Mario was trying to rescue from Donkey Kong) was Mario's niece, which vaguely implies Luigi is at the very least a deadbeat dad.

Posted by: Will at May 23, 2006 3:52 PM

As Tom Waits always says, "there ain't no Luigi, there's just Mario when he's drunk."

Posted by: Dan at September 22, 2008 1:22 PM