By Chalphy 5 Comments
Today I wish to talk about the lanky villain of the Super Mario Bros. family, the great and comical Waluigi. I know that Waluigi gets a lot of hate from around the internet, and I've always questioned that hatred. I suppose it has to do with how old people were when they were first introduced to the character.I can imagine people in high school and college were very upset at the reveal, here was this silly looking man taking the place of old favourites like Foreman Spike or Wart! Characters like Wart and Foreman Spike were beloved by these old school fans, and they didn't want some Luigi clone to be stealing their spotlight. Perhaps they were correct at their assertion at the time, there were some characters who were a part of the Mario canon, and they were being replaced by this strange looking upstart. Yet despite the changing times, it seems like this attitude is still quite common among Nintendo fans, and even though Waluigi has been around for over a decade, some still can't come to terms with the skinny man in the purple hat.
I do want to be fair to those that hate the character, but I honestly can't wrap my head around it. I understand that Waluigi is goofy and perhaps even a little lame, but isn't that a good thing? If you were to take a group of people who had absolutely no knowledge of the Mario franchise, how many of them do you think would say that Waluigi doesn't belong with the rest of the cast? I bet you that most of them would point out Donkey Kong or Yoshi before even thinking about Waluigi. Waluigi's goofiness and camp makes him the perfect member of the Mario family because everyone else is like that. We don't want our Mario characters to be stone faced, tormented characters. We want them to be funny and memorable, Waluigi does this in spades. What do you prefer, the serious antagonistic Bowser of Super Mario Bros, or the bumbling rival of the Mario RPG games? I thought so.
Yet despite all the hate Waluigi gets, there are those who have come to bat for him before, and they include one fairly prominent figure. That figure is none other than legendary voice actor, Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi. Martinet has come time and again, always talking about how much he loves the character, even going as far as suggesting for Waluigi to get his own game. I also find that younger gamers like myself are also quite fond of Waluigi. I personally do not know a single person who doesn't love Waluigi, for them, the character is integral to the heart and soul of all Mario spin offs. For instance, take the opening movies of the GameCube era Mario sports games by Camelot. Those movies are legendary because of the crazy antics Waluigi and Wario find themselves in. These are scenarios that Mario and Luigi would never take part it, but because there are butt monkeys like Wario and Waluigi, they work perfectly. Who says that you need to win to be loved?
Camelot is naturally very attached to the character, as it was Camelot designer Fumihide Aoki who created Waluigi, not Nintendo staff like Hiroji Kiyotake or Yoichi Kotabe. Perhaps because of this outside creation, Nintendo's internal teams have been reluctant to fully embrace Waluigi, while Waluigi has appeared in three EAD developed Mario Kart titles, the other branches of EAD have been less willing to accept him. If you look at the Mii costumes for New Super Mario Bros. U, you'll notice that the Mii's have costumes representing Mario, Luigi, and Wario, but no Waluigi. Is this EAD snubbing Waluigi, personally I think the actual reason is that the fourth costume just matches the colour of Blue Toad, not EAD having an anti-Waluigi agenda.
However, Waluigi may actually be gaining traction inside of EAD. For instance, one of the hardest to obtain hats in Find Mii 2 for the 3DS is Waluigi's trademark chapeau. Also, look at the upcoming NintendoLand for Wii U. While Waluigi doesn't have his own mini-game, EAD has consciously included Waluigi's costume as one of the outfits for players in the Luigi's Ghost Mansion game. Yes, EAD has recognized that Waluigi truly is the fourth member of the plumber gang, and he has finally taken his place among the greats.
However, despite EAD's acceptance of Waluigi, many fans are still unable to cope with the inclusion of this guy. One thing I notice, is that on a lot of rosters for upcoming Smash Bros titles, there are still very large pockets of people who would rather ignore Waluigi, and place some other character above him. And as always, the same old cliche arguments come up again and again: "Waluigi is stupid! Waluigi is just a lame Luigi clone! Waluigi doesn't exist in my world!"
OK, I admit that Nintendo does have a lot of doppelganger characters, such as Wario, SA-X, and the Star Wolf team. But what gets me is that these people who complain about Waluigi being a lame clone, are frequently championing the inclusion of Dark Samus, easily the laziest character ever created by Nintendo. Don't take this as a slam against the Metroid Prime games, I will be the first to admit that they are very high quality games. However Retro Studios does not have a good record when it comes to original characters. See the Tiki Tak Tribe and Tutorial Pig from Donkey Kong Country Returns (but don't you dare say anything bad about Squidicus!) How can anyone possibly find offense in Waluigi, but be perfectly fine with the existence of Dark Samus? Good lord, if you want a humanoid Metroid character for Smash, get on the Anthony Higgs bandwagon. At least he is a unique character with charisma.
Now, I want to address one last thing before ending this very long post. The absence of Waluigi in Mario Kart 7. I think this was the game where everyone finally realized they were taking Waluigi for granted. I remember when the final roster was revealed, people were furious over the lack of Waluigi. "Honey Queen! Where the hell is Waluigi?" "Needs more Waluigi Time!" After years of articles about how stupid characters like Waluigi and Tingle are (don't get me started on Tingle hate), people were writing about Waluigi as if a family member had passed away. About a month after the game came out, I even read on a Japanese website where Mario Kart 7 director Kosuke Yabuki addressed the exclusion of Waluigi. If I recall correctly, he was absent because there were no more slots available for him. Wario is to big to be excluded, Daisy and Rosalina are popular among female players, and Shy Guy was both a returning racer and a newcomer. With the inclusion of 4 new characters, Waluigi simply didn't have a spot on the roster. I remember shortly after the game came out, people were checking other Mario games to see if Waluigi was included, such mentality even led to this hilarious Fortune Street thread on Neogaf. Perhaps people really do care about Waluigi after all?
One final note. I hear that Waluigi is actually the most popular Mario character at Next Level Games leading to all his crazy animations in the soccer games. If true, I would more than happy to welcome them to the Waluigi fan club. Maybe have Waluigi has a secret unlockable character in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon? I would love you forever if you did.