How Waluigi Became So Damned Popular: An Investigation

How Waluigi Became So Damned Popular: An Investigation

What? You don't care? Too bad! Waluigi time!

If you had no idea flaccid Nintendo villain Waluigi commands a sizeable fanbase, Nintendo's Super Smash Bros Ultimate reveal at E3 2018 likely yanked you into reality super-fast. When Waluigi failed to show up as a playable character alongside Ridley, the Inklings, and Daisy, Waluigi evangelicals stamped their pointy-toed shoes, twirled their mustaches, and cried "Waaaaaa!" Suddenly, the world became a much more confusing place for a lot of people.

Maybe you don't know much about Waluigi beyond his role as a low-rent foil for Luigi in some of Nintendo's B-tier games, especially sports titles. After all, Waluigi wasn't created to help Bowser ensnare the Mushroom Kingdom, nor was he even dreamed up to help Wario manage his MicroGames empire. Waluigi was born on the tennis court with a racquet in his spidery hand. He debuted in Mario Tennis for the N64 in 2000, and he owes his existence to the simple fact Camelot (the company behind the Mario Tennis games, including Aces for the Switch) needed another human character—a creature not easily found in Nintendo's wild menagerie. From there, Waluigi gradually nurtured a fan club that's become much more visible (and vocal) in the past few years. A lot of people just like this Bizarro upside-down Luigi animal.

Right now you're wailing "For God's sake, why?" Well, it's for the same reason some people (myself included) prefer Luigi to Mario: Waluigi is the antithesis of Nintendo's rigid rules about how Mario is permitted to speak, look, and act. But whereas Luigi is still forbidden to wriggle out of Nintendo's yoke, Waluigi is basically permitted to run amok and grow without boundaries, like a domestic pig allowed to forage wild in the woods.

So how does a Nintendo character act when it slips free of the Big N's leash? If Waluigi's actions in 2005's Super Mario Strikers are anything to go by: Like a hooligan. Waluigi's actions and animations in this under-appreciated GameCube soccer title aren't what you'd expect from a Nintendo character. He sneers, he gloats, he spikes the ball against his disgraced rivals' heads ("Want the ball? Here!"), and he punches out the camera man when he's in a bad mood. He even performs a victory crotch-chop in a stadium full of spectators, effectively inviting everyone who paid for a ticket to suck his Walu-wee-wee. Unsurprisingly, this was around the time people wondered if they had Waluigi pegged wrong. His loutish behavior in Super Mario Strikers is a scream from the soul of a man who knows he has nothing to lose. I can admire that. Anyone can.

Waluigi received another popularity boost when popular Nintendo fan comic Brawl in the Family kicked a series of running gags wherein Waluigi invades the strip and declares it's "Waluigi Time" ("Too bad!"), much to the chagrin of the other characters. Think what you will about these comics, but Waluigi laboring to choose a book, lighting up when he finds a massive tome about the application of philosophy in mathematics, and then sitting on the curb to eat it still kills me.

If you're looking to blame a force outside Nintendo for Waluigi's ever-escalating popularity, comic artist Matthew Taranto isn't without sin—but please go gentle on him, his stuff is great.

Nintendo's not deaf to fans' cries for more Vitamin Waaaaa, as Waluigi almost never fails to show up in a game in need of roster-padding. That is, every game except any of the Super Smash Bros titles. Does Waluigi actually deserve to drink Fireflower ambrosia with the high gods of the video game pantheon? Or is he a one-note joke character who should he be grateful to scrabble at the other fighters' feet as an assist trophy?

I remain neutral in this conflict: I'm only here to pass down the Chronicle of Waluigi as my bloodline demands. I will not join or quell the calls for his inclusion, nor will I answer Motherboard's opinion / invitation ("Fuck Waluigi") except to say, "I'd rather not."

Oh, and ye dedicated children of Waluigi, heed this last plea: Leave Masahiro Sakurai alone, you rabid pack of weasels.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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