Nintendo: seriously? From the creators of the Mario series, the Legend of Zelda series, the Metroid series, The Donkey Kong series… I could keep going (point is – they make great games) comes… “The Year of Luigi.” For those out there not following current news in the video game industry, things have not been going well for Japan-based video game developer and publisher, Nintendo. The once mighty console maker has taken a backseat since the release of the Wii U (actual name) in late 2012. Maybe the company knew they were being pushed out of the limelight, why else would they select Luigi to headline a year?
Let’s talk about Luigi real quick. He is Mario’s brother. You know you’ve got a strong character when his best definition comes from comparison to another character. He’s not Mario… he’s the other one. The “Bros.” part of “Mario Bros.” Luigi is probably the most famous “player 2” character in video game history… but he’s still “player 2.” He’s the guy you make your friend play as. Sure, Luigi has had his own games. His first came in 1993 with Mario Is Missing! Yes, in Luigi’s first game he still was not part of the title. Was Mario Is Missing! any fun? It was an educational game that was not Oregon Trail, I do not feel the need to say more.
Since then, Luigi actually has appeared as the main star of a couple of entertaining games (some of which were released in the past year). The highlight has to be Luigi’s Mansion, the atmospheric launch title for the Nintendo Gamecube that, once again, had Luigi tracking down his brother (Mario needs to learn how to share the spotlight). Okay so one good game and in a history of being overshadowed; great role model, Nintendo.
The Year of Luigi began in February of 2013 with a Nintendo Direct that announced both the year and, what would be, the only game of the Year of Luigi worth mentioning, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Luigi would finally get his long-awaited sequel and… maybe a couple of other games? It was supposed to be his year after all.
Well, let us count, in the Year of Luigi, Nintendo officially released four games (not including the previously mentioned, Dark Moon) for Mario’s sidekick. They were New Super Luigi U, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Luigi Bros. (a hidden game in Super Mario 3D World), and Dr. Luigi. Yeah, even in his year: Luigi still cannot escape Mario. Really it is even less than it appears.
New Super Luigi U was a gloried expansion pack for New Super Mario Bros. U. Nintendo decided to add-on a full new 82 courses (because the worlds in New Super Mario Bros. U were just so memorable) and just subtract Mario from the equation. Hey, at least he isn’t in this “Luigi” game. It was a game that few, outside of diehard fans, could be excited about.
Then there is Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. It is good but seriously? SERIOUSLY?! Not only is Mario in the title, he’s first. It’s a Mario Bros. game, end of story.
Luigi Bros. barely warrants mentioning. Again, it is a mini-game tucked away inside of Mario’s latest offering: fantastic. I bet that does all kinds of wonders for Luigi’s self confidence.
I guess that leaves Dr. Luigi. If you’re thinking: “Hey, didn’t they make a Dr. Mario game like, twenty (yes we’re old) years ago? What is this, a remake?” Yes, and yes. Dr. Luigi is essentially a prettied-up Dr. Mario for the Wii U. On the plus side, it does include an entire new mode that alters the formula considerably. I know I should be sarcastic here but I actually really like these types of games. It’s sad that this is my second favorite game of the Year of Luigi, but it wasn’t a bad little game.
Nintendo, ladies and gentlemen. At least you can say they were true to Luigi’s legacy. All anyone has been able to talk about in the past year is the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Nintendo has faded away to the sidekick, with only one thing really worth mentioning: the 3DS (seriously, that is an awesome handheld with a never ending supply of quality titles).
The Year of Luigi ended on March 18, 2014 (a full year since the February Nintendo Direct). It is now the Year of… anything? Nintendo has been quiet. They are a company in turmoil right now that desperately needs to convince the video game industry that they know what they’re doing. Apparently they are keeping the Luigi-like mentality of making such an exit that no one will even be aware that they’ve left.