Luigi (ルイージ, Luigi) appears in Super Smash Bros. as one of the four unlockable characters. He is a clone of Mario, keeping most of his moves and animations, though differing in terms of attributes. Like him, Luigi is voiced by Charles Martinet, albeit his voice clips' are merely higher pitched versions of Mario's voice clips.
Luigi ranks 12th on the tier list, placing him at the bottom of the C tier and the entire tier list itself and is his worst tier placement in the series. Luigi's combo ability is varied and versatile, and they can be followed by his most devastating finisher, the Super Jump Punch. He also has a long distanced recovery. However, his weaknesses are extremely overwhelming: he has very slow movement speed, with the slowest traction, dashing, and air speeds, along with the third lowest falling speed and gravity. Despite the latter attribute giving him great jump prowess, it also gives him a high short hop. Like Mario, his reach is poor, giving him trouble at hitting opponents. Altogether, these attributes result in very weak and almost complete lack of offensive options in the neutral game, despite having Fireball as a projectile. While being a clone in terms of attacks, some of his attacks are much weaker, an exception to it being Super Jump Punch, which is hard to land without confirming a combo into it. Lastly, his recovery is predictable despite being long distanced, and he is easier to gimp because of his lower air speed. As a result of these attributes, he has almost no dedicated players in competitive play, and suffers from poor tournament results.
How to unlock
Luigi is notable for being the only full clone in Smash 64. Many of his attacks, pros, and cons are similar to Mario's, although there are differences. Luigi's main problem is his terrible physics - a combination of slow dashing speed, very slow air speed, low traction, and low falling speed gives him very poor mobility and big trouble approaching, even with a projectile in his Fireballs. He also has a high short hop and short range.
Luigi has a very good recovery - despite being on the more predictable side, his jump is high and Super Jump Punch travels a long vertical distance, with Luigi Cyclone being an additional recovery option (though it requires rather fast button mashing to give distance). However, Luigi Cyclone can be used at different times to mix up his recovery.
Luigi's Fire Jump Punch is a very powerful KO move, and it can be comboed into with any of his aerials sans neutral aerial. Despite this, however, Luigi generally cannot combo well due to his very low air speed. His down aerial is his main combo move, and is excellent at that job, dealing very high damage (24% total), and being able to lead into an up aerial to continue the string (Luigi can do this combo to higher percents than Mario due to his higher jump), but being a multi-hit attack, it can be SDI'd out of, hindering its effectiveness. Luigi's short hopped up aerial to down aerial combos are typically considered the best way to rack damage at base to low percents. Though, having higher knockback, Luigi's up tilt is a slightly better combo move at base percentages than Mario's. His up tilt can chain into itself easily at low to moderate percents, can combo into aerials, and is an effective move to use for juggling along with his up aerial. Luigi has the highest initial jump in the game, which can be a good thing on stages like Hyrule Castle, but it gives him a high short hop, which further hinders some of his combo ability, especially since it's also rather slow.
While slightly weaker than Mario overall, Luigi still has many strong KO moves to his name by virtue of most of Mario's strong ones being untouched for Luigi's versions. Even outside the Fire Jump Punch, Luigi can still KO effectively with his up smash, Luigi Cyclone, and back throw (the former of which is the strongest alongside Mario's and Jigglypuff's, being able to KO at as low as 73% on Dream Land, and the latter being able to KO and edgeguard effectively) His down smash is also a powerful move, with its two hits being spread out over a somewhat long duration, allowing it to easily read defensive options such as rolls, and also being able to hit characters on the edge. His forward throw and forward smash are both usable for KOs near the ledge (with the former in fact being stronger than Mario's, but the latter is weaker).
To his credit, Luigi is a good edgeguarder, courtesy of Mario's edgeguarding tools being mostly untouched for Luigi's versions. His forward aerial can semi-spike, and it has multiple hits. Luigi's back aerial has more range, but is slower than Mario's, but is still a solid KO move, and it along with forward aerial can be used to space. As mentioned earlier, his down aerial can drag opponents down if used repeatedly, due to being a high damage, set knockback meteor smash. However, some fighters (Pikachu, Kirby, Mario and other Luigis) are able to escape. His neutral aerial, while inferior to back aerial in terms of power and range, may be used to edgeguard whenever Luigi is in the situational position to use it after a combo, like Mario's. The Luigi Cyclone can pseudo-spike most characters as an edgeguarding technique, but this is ineffective against characters who can recover from it quickly, including Pikachu, Mario, and other Luigis.
Luigi overall has poor matchups, being heavily countered by Pikachu and having a 40-60 matchup against six characters in the game. He does however have an even matchup against Yoshi and Donkey Kong, and he also does well against Samus and Jigglypuff, hard countering the latter due to his Fire Jump Punch.
Overall, Luigi is considered a decent mid-tier in doubles. With a teammate to distract opponents, Luigi gains several opportunities for devastating Fire Jump Punch combos, and his poor approach can be covered by a fast teammate like Fox. Luigi's primary weaknesses are his poor range and poor air speed, which is why he is usually partnered with a character who can cover those disadvantages (like Captain Falcon or Pikachu). He is considered a great combo with Mario due to their combo and KOing options being nearly identical, allowing them to combo extensively.
Luigi has slower mobility, less combo ability, a worse approach game, and marginally lowered power compared to Mario. However, he has more range, slightly faster frame data, a somewhat better recovery, and more finishers. He also has a different down tilt and dash attack and differently functioning specials than Mario, as well as a taunt with a hitbox.
Differences between game versions
In his transition to NTSC-U, Luigi underwent many changes, both positive and negative, which makes him slightly less of a clone than Mario. However, he was ultimately nerfed due to his lower mobility and the higher SDI presence. Despite this, he ironically has better matchups in the NTSC-U version, due to the changes to SDI also nerfing several character's combo options. Altogether, he is a worse character than in the Japanese version, but fares better due to the different gameplay mechanics, though not by much.
For a gallery of Luigi's hitboxes, see here.
In competitive play
Numbers in brackets indicate position in 64 League Rankings 2017
Tier placement and history
Luigi has always been considered a low-tier character, hovering around the bottom three each time throughout all established tier lists. He was ranked 10th on the first two tier lists, and 11th on the third one. Although he has a decent amount of powerful KO moves and a projectile to use for interrupt approaches, he has failed to make a significant impact throughout the entire metagame, primarily due to his struggle to approach himself, lackluster recovery, and unimpressive reach. This has culminated to scarce representation and results, where players who enter rarely place high at nationals. Currently, he sits at 12th place, where players generally agree his placement is accurate, and his metagame is anticipated to remain similar to before. Other low-tiers have accomplished more significant feats, with characters such as Link developing better tools to deal with Kirby and Samus having developed more innovations to navigate around platforms efficiently.
In 1P Game
In the game's single-player mode, a player and a randomly chosen ally fight against Mario and Luigi in a team battle on Peach's Castle making him the only unlockable character who can be fought in the 1P game.
Though often hidden in his older brother Mario's shadow, Luigi is, in reality, very popular. Taller than Mario, Luigi also jumps higher. Although he didn't appear in Super Mario 64, in Mario Kart 64 he performed to the best of his ability. For one who seems to always be in the background, he has many fans who eagerly await his appearance.