Luigi (ルイージ, Luigi) is a character in the Mario series. Originally debuting as an exact copy of his marginally older twin brother Mario, Luigi soon transitioned into a palette swap of his brother before gradually developing his own appearance and personality, to the point of becoming both the co-star and deuteragonist of their home series. His most successful and well-known outings as the sole protagonist of a video game are his adventures as a vacuum-toting ghost hunter in the Luigi's Mansion series, consisting of Luigi's Mansion (2001) for the GameCube, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (2013) for the Nintendo 3DS, and Luigi's Mansion 3 (2019) for the Nintendo Switch.
Two years after the widely acclaimed classic Donkey Kong, Shigeru Miyamoto wished to incorporate the two-player competitive and cooperative gameplay of the arcade game Joust into his own game. To this end, he created Luigi, Mario's twin brother, for the arcade game Mario Bros. However, Luigi's actual debut was in the otherwise unrelated Game & Watch game of the same name.
Luigi's name is said to have been inspired by a pizza parlor called "Mario & Luigi's", which was located near Nintendo of America's headquarters. Coincidentally, his name was also noted to be similar to the Japanese word 「類似」 (ruiji), which means "similar", and further ties into his formative years being essentially identical to Mario other than color.
Luigi's original design, both in official artwork and gameplay, was a palette swap of Mario. In this case, his overalls and shirt were green and black, respectively; in addition to contrasting with Mario's red and blue color scheme, Luigi's color scheme came about because of the limited color palettes in the arcade version of Mario Bros. While the Game & Watch version of the game has one player control both brothers, the arcade version features Luigi as the character that the second player would control.
Luigi would then be featured in the widely acclaimed classic Super Mario Bros., which saw the brothers travel through the Mushroom Kingdom for the first time to rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil Koopa King, Bowser. Unlike its predecessor, Super Mario Bros. features Luigi clad in a green shirt, white overalls and white hat, which would become his color scheme as Fire Luigi in subsequent games. This game also notably, albeit quietly, abandoned the concept that he and Mario were Italian-American plumbers from New York City.
In both the Japanese Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels and the international Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi was established as having superior jumping prowess compared to Mario. The Lost Levels also gave him worse traction compared to his brother; both traits would become Luigi's defining gameplay mechanics in the overwhelming majority of subsequent games. Super Mario Bros. 2 further codified Luigi's physical appearance, depicting him as taller and thinner than his brother.
Although Mario effectively became Nintendo's mascot thanks to the success of Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros., Luigi's relevance, which was still at a respectable level, stagnated in response. Relegated to minor appearances such as Super Mario Kart and the edutainment-based spin-off Mario is Missing!, Luigi's relevance began to wane, so much so that he was actually left out of some games entirely. The most notable instance of this was his complete absence in the widely acclaimed classic Super Mario 64; however, this was attributed to the Nintendo 64's technical limitations, and was rectified by making him an unlockable character in the game's Nintendo DS remake, Super Mario 64 DS.
After his absence in Super Mario 64, however, Luigi's relevance was renewed via his playable appearances in three other very popular Nintendo 64 games: Mario Kart 64, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros. Luigi's newfound popularity was most notably demonstrated in Luigi's Mansion, his first starring role within his own spin-off series. The game established Luigi's defining personality: bashful and good-hearted, yet cowardly and afflicted by a deep-seated fear of ghosts.
Despite encountering many obstacles and being consistently terrified of the mansion's various ghosts, Luigi nevertheless manages to save Mario from King Boo. Luigi received slightly more character development via the Mario Tennis series: its first installment marked the debut of his antagonistic rival Waluigi, while Mario Power Tennis saw Princess Daisy become a reciprocal love interest for Luigi after her appearance as his caddie in NES Open Tournament Golf.
Although Luigi did not appear in Super Mario Sunshine, his relevance has remained steady since Luigi's Mansion. This has been most obvious with his co-starring role in Mario & Luigi series alongside Mario; his appearance as an unlockable character in Super Mario 64 DS, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D Land; and his status as one of the four "Heroes of Light" in Super Paper Mario.
Luigi's relevance reached its peak during the Year of Luigi, which was announced on February 14, 2013 and commemorated the 30th anniversary of his debut. Various games and collectibles focusing on Luigi were released, with two of the games, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, further developing his character. Dream Team further cemented the deep bond between the Mario Bros., and saw Luigi courageously rise to the occasion against Bowser, which resulted in his critics—such as Starlow and even Bowser himself—coming to view him as Mario's equal. Dark Moon saw him develop a slightly more courageous attitude, save Mario yet again, and clearly cemented King Boo as his archenemy, evoking reminders of the long-standing rivalry between Mario and Bowser.
Aside from his character development, Luigi's abilities were also highlighted during the Year of Luigi. New Super Luigi U notably lacks Mario and instead focuses on Luigi's signature higher jump and slippery traction. Dr. Luigi marks his debut as a doctor like his brother before him, and sees him utilize unique L-shaped Megavitamins. This game mode returns in the Nintendo 3DS title Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure. Although the Year of Luigi officially concluded on March 18, 2014, one final Year of Luigi game, Super Luigi Bros., was released a little over a month later as a part of NES Remix 2. Like Super Mario 3D World's Luigi Bros., Super Luigi Bros. is a modified emulation of Super Mario Bros., but noticeably differs by retaining Luigi's higher jump and sporting mirrored versions of every level.
Although replicas of Luigi's hat and outfit are available for Mario to wear, Luigi himself returned to an ancillary role for his appearance in Super Mario Odyssey; he appears as the non-playable host of the Balloon World minigame, which was made available in a post-launch update on February 21, 2018. Later that year, a remake of Luigi's Mansion for the Nintendo 3DS was released. This remake introduced Luigi's gelatinous counterpart, Gooigi, who serves as his partner in multiplayer mode. Gooigi also features prominently in Luigi's Mansion 3, a brand new installment in the spinoff series released on October 31, 2019.
In the Luigi's Mansion series
As a playable character
Main article: Luigi (SSB)
Luigi's first appearance in a fighting game is in Super Smash Bros., where he appears as one of the four unlockable characters. His design is based on his appearance in Mario Kart 64; however, his overalls in-game are colored indigo instead of blue, which references his sprite from Super Mario World. Luigi can be unlocked after completing Break the Targets with all of the starter characters.
Luigi's abilities are almost identical to Mario's, although there are a few differences between them. His neutral special move is also a Fireball, albeit colored green and immune to gravity. Luigi's up special move is also the Super Jump Punch, but his is very polarized compared to Mario's. Due to consisting of a sweetspot and a sourspot, Luigi's version can deal up to 25% when landing the former, but only 1% when landing the latter. Lastly, his down special move is Luigi Cyclone: it is similar to Mario Tornado, but instead consists of only two distinct hits and that each launch the opponent away from Luigi. Unlike the rest of the cast, Luigi's taunt is the only one capable of dealing damage.
Largely because of his awkward physics, Luigi is ranked 12th out of 12 on the current tier list. This places him in the C tier, and at the bottom of the list.
Luigi's in-game character description reads:
As a playable character
Main article: Luigi (SSBM)
Luigi returns in Super Smash Bros. Melee as an unlockable character. Unlike in SSB, Luigi's overalls in-game are now blue, which makes his design more in line with his appearance as of Mario Kart 64. Luigi can be unlocked in Adventure Mode by finishing the first stage with the number 2 in the timer; in addition to causing him to take Mario's place in the subsequent battle, it may also be a reference to Luigi originally being the player 2 analog to his brother. Luigi can also be unlocked by playing 800 Versus Mode matches.
Due to his neutral attack's third hit, up tilt, down tilt, forward smash, and forward aerial being completely overhauled both aesthetically and mechanically, Luigi has been de-cloned into a semi-clone of his older brother. Like his fellow veterans, Luigi now has a side special move; in his case, it is Green Missile. Green Missile propels Luigi forward and can be charged. In addition to being usable for recovery like Super Jump Punch, Green Missile can potentially misfire, which significantly increases its damage output and travel distance. Lastly, Luigi's taunt is now capable of meteor smashing edge-hanging opponents, although it is extremely situational to use in such a manner.
Due to Luigi's moveset and mobility being improved by direct changes and especially because of Melee's game physics (most notably wavedashing and chain grabbing), he is ranked 13th out of 26 on the current tier list. This places him in the D tier and directly in the middle of the list.
As a playable character, Luigi is featured on three trophies: his normal trophy, acquired by clearing Classic Mode with him on any difficulty, and "Smash Red" and "Smash Blue" trophies won by clearing Adventure and All-Star Modes, respectively. A fourth trophy featuring Luigi is also available, which is styled after his appearance in Luigi's Mansion.
His normal and "Vacuum Luigi" trophies read as follows:
As a playable character
Main article: Luigi (SSBB)
Luigi returns as an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He can be unlocked by playing 22 Versus Mode matches, completing Classic Mode without using any continues, or by having him join the party in Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary. Unlike in SSB and Melee, Luigi's design is now based on his appearance as of Luigi's Mansion, albeit with a realistic aesthetic and subdued color scheme. By extension, he now has his own unique voice clips, instead of using higher-pitched versions of Mario's voice clips.
Like his fellow veterans, Luigi now has a Final Smash; in his case, it is Negative Zone. In the transition from Melee to Brawl, Luigi has received a mix of buffs and nerfs, with the buffs being greater overall, as many of his attacks been made more powerful or faster, along with a significantly improved recovery. However, Luigi's loss of wavedashing has harmed him drastically, especially with the stronger defensive play of Brawl (and the defensive nature of Brawl also makes his poor traction much more of a liability, as the inability to punish out of shield with it is a more significant problem in Brawl). The introduction of hitstun canceling is also detrimental as it significantly limits Luigi's combo game. As such, despite the overall buffs, Luigi is a much less effective character than he was in Melee.
As a playable character
Main article: Luigi (SSB4)
Luigi returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. However, SSB4 is the first installment of the series to announce him as a playable character before release and, unlike in the previous three installments, he is now a starter character. But in the next installment after Smash 4 which is Ultimate, Luigi (along with Captain Falcon, Jigglypuff, and Ness from the Original 12) are reverted to being unlockable characters. Like Mario, Luigi's design is now based on his appearance as of Super Mario 3D Land. He also received a new a new Final Smash that uses the Poltergust 5000 from Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon.
Luigi has been buffed in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. In addition to retaining his overall fast frame data and varied recovery, Luigi's moveset now boasts an impressive amount of utility, particularly in regard to combo potential. This is best demonstrated by Luigi's grab game, which is among the most effective in the game thanks to his quick grabs, his back throw being a viable KOing option, and his down throw's outstanding combo potential.
However, Luigi retains his overall slow mobility, especially while airborne, as well as his extremely low traction. Update 1.1.1 also altered the knockback of his down throw, which removed its guaranteed KO set-ups. Despite his flaws, Luigi overall remains a force to be reckoned with, and he has achieved fairly strong tournament representation and results throughout SSB4's lifespan. As a result, he is ranked 18th out of 55 on the current tier list; in addition to placing him in the B tier, this renders him a high-tier character for the first time.
As a costume
Luigi's hat is available as an headwear for Mii Fighters.
Tanooki Mario & Kitsune Luigi
As a playable character
Main article: Luigi (SSBU)
Luigi returns as an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Like Mario, Luigi's design is now based on his appearance in Super Mario Odyssey, albeit without the accessories he wears in that game. In addition, Luigi now uses his Poltergust G-00 from Luigi's Mansion 3 for his grabs (which also grants him a grab aerial by extension), pummel and throws; fittingly, it also replaces the Poltergust 5000 for his Final Smash.
Although Luigi received a new up tilt that is aesthetically and mechanically similar to his older brother's, the combination of his Poltergust G-00, new dashing animation, and new forward tilt have collectively de-cloned him into a pseudo-clone of Mario after previously being a semi-clone from Melee to SSB4.
As a costume
Once again, Luigi's hat is available as headwear for Mii Fighters. It can be found in a Treasure Chest in World of Light.