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How Luigi got his moves back

A look back at the green brother's journey from flutter-jumper to mario clone and back again.

The Super Mario Bros series makes pretty much zero sense in terms of story canon. Bowser can apparently use black magic in the original game to make ordinary goombas or bloopers into powerful ‘false bowsers’, so why can’t he use that power to turn them into huge unstoppable beasts instead? Why does Yoshi sometime produce eggs and sometimes come from eggs? And how oh how does every crazy thing that happened in one of  Mario’s dreams (I’m talking about Super Mario Bros. 2) end up coming to reality in the Mushroom Kingdom?!

Of course we know the answer is that the games are developed with absolutely no attention payed to story continuity at all. Any explanation there is for weird inconsistencies like this are either invented by over-analytic fans or inferred from vague statemented from Miyamoto-san and company.

The happenings of Super Mario Bros. 2 were completely insane — owing of course to the game’s origin as something completely different — but the fact that it was allowed to both be explained away as a dream and go on to influence the future of the series is a marvellous thing, since it introduced so many of the best and most charming aspects of Mario lore. Shy guys, Birdo, hidden keys, Mouser (just kidding), bob-ombs, holding and throwing things are all mainstays of the series that were first introduced here. And of course, it was the first game to make a truly meaningful distinction in the play styles of Mario and Luigi.

luigi2

Luigi could jump higher than Mario in the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, which we call Lost Levels, and that’s probably why he was chosen as the high-jumping character for the US sequel. Though slower and looser to control than his plumper brother, Luigi’s floaty leap and hilarious leg-flailing animation granted him his own goofy character.

Unfortunately, for Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, Luigi was relegated to the role of palette-swapped Mario clone. Mario games generally rely on the need to execute very precise maneuvers, and so the level designers need to know exactly what the player has at his or her disposal at all times. The fact is Super Mario 2 is pretty much the exception to the rule in that regard as far as the 2D console games are concerned.

Since the 2D era Luigi’s dorky sensibilities have flourished and with them a little of his flutter-kick style has crept back in. In the DS game Super MArio 64 DS, which easily rivals Super Mario Bros 2 in the bonkers altered-reality stakes, Luigi’s lanky moves were exaggerated to some pretty awesome proportions. In the Super Mario Galaxy games he played differently too, jumping higher and having his triple-jump replaced some crazy running-on-air business.

luigigalaxy

Enter the New Super Mario Bros series and it’s back to clone-town again, as all four players in the game need to have the exact same abilities to keep the game balanced. Until now.

With this year’s Super Luigi U DLC, the other three players are being completely scrapped and Luigi’s hitting the flutter jump for the first time in an original 2D console game since 1988. As the recent Nintendo Direct confimrs, the slipping, sliding, high-jumping Luigi is the one showing his face this time around, and with the unpredictability of the Super Mario Bros. 2 favourite mixed with everything EAD’s learnt about level design since then, this is shaping up to be an experience that doesn’t simply switch Mario out for Luigi but actually feels like Luigi.

Here’s hoping the success of this standalone DLC encourages a return to distinct character abilities in the 2D space for Mario games going forward, and maybe even some level designs that require teamwork to exploit each member’s abilities. Until then, let’s just hope there’s a few more awesome surprises left for us all in the year of Luigi.

Are you excited for a return to New Super Mario Bros. U but with the added abilities of the clearly-better brother? Do you have any favourite Luigi-related memories from past platformers?

Around the web
  • Magnus Eriksson

    Not very impressing. This game is as much a new game as Lost Levels were a new game to Super Mario Bros on NES. Its still the same game but with different level design. It is actually a lazy and unimpressing thing to do. Instead of this Nintendo should release a level designer/editor for NSMBU and then finish to milking the cow. They have to show soon that they have more for the series up their sleeves than endless repetitions. They could have made a Ghost-run or popping up extra mansions with new designs for Luigi, instead they do this – the easy way.

    • http://about.me/overlordror Ashley King

      Actually, I disagree. The new re-design with Luigi in mind is capped at 100 seconds on the clock, so leisurely players who may have strolled through the original game will have a bit of challenge on their hands in the re-made levels.

      • routerbad

        They are definitely going for more of a challenging experience with this, with concentrated obstacles that require reflexes and foresight. I don’t think ALL of the levels will be capped, they have showed footage over 100 seconds with standard cadence music, but the fact that they are basically providing a completely new experience all built around a different character is pretty awesome.

      • incoherent1

        I’m with Ashley here. Just because they’re calling them redesigned levels doesn’t mean it’s repetitive.

        Also, I think the Challenge mode included in New Super Mario Bros U more than addresses fans’ desire for a different take on the series, and is targeted at more serious gamers who wanted something different out of the series — we got that and it was included with the original game. I think the 100 second Luigi levels will be somewhere in between the original levels and the Challenge mode.

        • Magnus Eriksson

          Of course it is repetetive. The whole game is. The “New” Super Mario is really not that new anymore. It is a good game, but it is more of a Lost Levels to the others in the series than a new game. They even use the same “sprites” from the Wii. I never said it wasnt going to be challenging, I said it wasnt impressive.

          • Lazara the Last

            NSMBU is with no doubt the best game since Super Mario World! I didn’t play much NSMBWii, but the little did play, wasn’t that good. NSMBU on the other hand, is great! Challenging, fun, many levels (I used 45 hours to get all the star coins (I played some challenge mode too ^^))
            I can’t wait for this DLC! :D

          • Magnus Eriksson

            Its OK. It is certainly the best game from Nintendo on that console. But it is basically just a fresher edition of the older versions. Yes, Nintendo did some experiments on the ghost levels with Van Gogh-ish art styles and that part was good. Elsewhere the game was just an HD update. They certainly did have time to come up with something new and more advanced. The things that differs (apart from HD) from the earlier versions is really more of a gimicky approach. Ok! Off-TV is nice to have but the rest – gimmicks.

          • Lazara the Last

            Well, we all have our own opinions :D

      • http://www.facebook.com/steven.mahl.5 Steven Mahl

        I plan on getting it! But I also said that about Lego City, NFS, and Injustice… I might be a little behind.

    • routerbad

      Levels are everything in a platformer. They are changing the levels, changing the character physics, changing everything except the overworld and releasing it as DLC. This is not a lazy thing to do. Name one other game that has DLC that basically rewrites the entire game…

      • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

        Not to mention the main character plays differently! Plus no multiplayer means levels will be not just different but tighter. New control, new levels, new focus. Certainly not lazy DLC in my books.

    • Nintenjoe82

      It’s DLC, not a new game!

      If it’s full priced it’s a con but I can’t see this costing anything like full price…… (massive kiss of death I know)

      Having said that, there does look like space on the world map to have completely new themed worlds.

      • Magnus Eriksson

        I know its not a new game. But it should feel like the add ons brings something new to the game. I dont think it does really. Its basically the same design on the levels, exactly like Lost Levels didnt bring anything new to the first Super Mario.

    • Nintedward

      It’s a DLC or an add on to NSMBU. It’s not trying to be a ”new game” , although it is basically like 100% of the games content all over again.

      It looks great and you could not really ask for a better DLC for NSMBU.

      I’m looking forward to it. I loved NSMBU and I will love the NSLU DLC.

      • Magnus Eriksson

        Yes I could ask for a better. A complete redesign of the levels in term of backgrounds, monsters towards a Luigi-fied mood in the game. Dark mansions, graveyards, ghosts, more of the van-goghish experience and a darker approach. That would be better, and you know it.

        • Nintedward

          It is a complete redesign of every level. Every level is different to the original levels. Hence it is like a brand new version of the game.

    • Gourmand

      It may be lazy in a way, but this is DLC, it cut down on development time a lot doing this and not making a new game.

    • http://twitter.com/ChrisHeskin Chris Heskin

      why do you sound like a turd in all your posts?

      • Magnus Eriksson

        Allergic to critique? You would love North Korea. Go there! :)

  • Elem187

    Can’t wait. I played SMB2 as a kid and loved being able to choose between all three different styles…. So its going to be fun to play as Luigi for a change… I just hope the dlc doesn’t cost over $20, because I would probably skip it then.

    SMB2 was glorius
    Mario was, well Mario.
    Luigi jumped higher
    Toadstool could pick things up and throw them faster
    And Princess could hover/float over larger distances

    • crocodileman94

      You mean Toad. Toadstool’s the princess.

    • http://waluigi.com/ Waluigi

      I hate Luigi!!!!

  • Scott Duperree

    Is there really a complication with Yoshis being able to produce eggs? How else would we get little yoshis?

    • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

      What about full-grown Yoshi in an egg? In World they say he’s ‘trapped’ in an egg, but it’s the same type of egg he lays! Who trapped him in it? Also how does his body turn shy guys into empty eggs and fruit into eggs with mushrooms inside?! What happens to the shy guy?! Haha, canon. Yoshis have crazy gastro-intestinal systems is the point :P

      • MujuraNoKamen

        What I want to know is how does a “he” lay eggs?

        • http://weeklyrift.com/ Tim Biggs

          Painfully, I assume.

      • Scott Duperree

        he’s a dinosaur, he was probably genetically engineered, just ask Turok

      • You’re_An_Idiot

        He clearly explains that Bowser trapped him in the egg.

  • METHical reality

    I’m really waiting for this game .. i guess its like a 3/4 of a new game so that’s pretty cool for a DLC.. what would be extra awesome is that the new Luigi mechanics is updated to the Luigi you play as a multiplier in New super Mario bros WiiU because in a way it just seems abnormal to have two Luigi mechanics in the same game though i’m sure it won’t happen i’m just dreamin

  • Fred

    Had there been any indication for the cost of Super Luigi U DLC?

  • Squid

    New super Weegee U.
    I feel like we’ll see many Luigi memes coming soon.

  • thedeciderU

    i want this now…

  • Johny

    dlc made right

  • Luke Wilson

    ummm thats awesome but its still the same game with the same annoying music…

  • Cubester_64

    “As the recent Nintendo Direct confimrs,”
    Yeah, that’s right.

  • Seth S. Scott

    is this the sequel article to “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”?