Waluigi crouching

Critical Perspectives on Waluigi

Nintendo have declared 2013 to be the year of Luigi – “Super” Mario’s taller, greener brother. What better time then to take a critical gaze at this most ignored of computer game characters. Often second best to his more heroic brother and hounded by rumours about his sexuality, it would appear there is plenty of material for The Empty Page radical publishers to get their academic incisors into. Yet, that would be an easy option, of far more interest to us is Luigi’s supposedly evil doppelgänger Waluigi. Whilst beloved of weird Twitter gag makers Waluigi has remained in the shadows for too long, now some of our top theorists are devoting their minds to the study of this under-appreciated anti-hero.

I, We, Waluigi: a Post-Modern analysis of Waluigi by Franck Ribery

Waluigi is the ultimate example of the individual shaped by the signifier. Waluigi is a man seen only in mirror images; lost in a hall of mirrors he is a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. You start with Mario – the wholesome all Italian plumbing superman, you reflect him to create Luigi – the same thing but slightly less. You invert Mario to create Wario – Mario turned septic and libertarian – then you reflect the inversion in the reflection: you create a being who can only exist in reference to others. Waluigi is the true nowhere man, without the other characters he reflects, inverts and parodies he has no reason to exist. Waluigi’s identity only comes from what and who he isn’t – without a wider frame of reference he is nothing. He is not his own man. In a world where our identities are shaped by our warped relationships to brands and commerce we are all Waluigi.

Waluigi pointing

Spoiling the Mario Party: a Queer Theory analysis of Waluigi by Jenny Powell

Mario has Princess Peach and is seen to be the embodiment of heterosexual happiness but rumour and counter rumour surround his brother Luigi. Whilst sometimes he is paired with Princess Daisy there are enough hints and innuendoes  dropped throughout the Nintendo universe that suggest Luigi is not quite cut from the same cloth as his brother. If we take it that yes, Luigi is a closeted homosexual – and this is by no means a controversial reading – then he is clearly a non-threatening  cuddly and slightly cowardly homosexual stereotype. What then of Waluigi – his warped reflection? Waluigi is the negative stereotype: the cowardice curdles to malice and spite, the cuddly curves become jutting sharp edges – he is aggression without machismo. Whilst Bowser and Wario have simple motivations – lust for the Princess, lust for money – Waluigi poses more difficult questions, he seems to reject the patriarchal and capitalist urges of his villainous contemporaries. He wants something else, on one hand he is an avatar for fear of the homosexual other, on the other he is the truly liberated individual, he rejects the façade of the Mushroom Kingdom: he wants no part of the (Mario) party.

The Funky Kong of the False Conscious a Marxist analysis of Waluigi by Lucy Pinder

Waluigi is the logical end point of capitalism. His existence is the triumph of capital over creativity; he has no reason to exist beyond adding a simulacrum of novelty to a declining commodity. He is the committee designed end point of a franchise alienated from the ideas of play. To choose to play as Waluigi is the ultimate act of false consciousness, you may tell yourself you can engineer some kind of enjoyment when in reality this cynically designed character is playing you. Where one could see some joy in the running, jumping, shell throwing antics of the Super Mario Bros Waluigi brings nothing new to the table; he is simply an invitation to buy the latest iteration of Mario Tennis. Like the New Super Mario Bros games and the futile non-existence of Funky Kong Waluigi is Nintendo cynically selling back to you something you’ve already bought and demanding that you enjoy it.

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40 thoughts on “Critical Perspectives on Waluigi

  1. What a beautiful article. Sadly, Lucy Pinder’s approach is the most accurate one: Waluigi was originally created by Camelot (not Nintendo) as Wario needed a doubles partner in Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64.

  2. Surprised you didn’t pick up on Fred Dinenage’s oft-cited text “Waluigi – the Gamma Caste: A Brave New (Mario) World” in which he delves into the (admittedly) heavy-handed use and meaning therein of a Gamma symbol emblazoned upon his cap. Dinenage traces back Waluigi’s origins to Huxley’s immortal text in which Gamma were described as the lowest of the autonomous working classes – given just enough individuality and social skills to interact with their Alpha and Beta superiors. Waluigi is a pale apparition of his brethren, bestowed just enough of the trademark plumbing insignia for Mario et al. to accept him, but with none of the originality or charm of a Birdo or a Ludwig Von Koopa. He is doomed to simultaneously suffer as a second class citizen – effectively no better than the anonymous, Epsilon-esque mushroom people.- whilst entombed in a mind and body with enough individuality and consciousness to be eternally tortured by such a plight.

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  4. There’s something to be said for his name. “Waru” (わる) is a Japanese approximation of “bad”, so “Waluigi” is an excellent portmanteau of “bad Luigi” – as opposed to just appending a “Wa” á la Wario.

    I wrote about the idea of gay Luigi on my blog a while back. But I’ve never really considered Waluigi much, beyond occasionally using him (along with Luigi) in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Possibly something to ponder upon a little more.

  5. WaLuigi: une perspective existentielle par le Botendaddy.

    Selon Jean-Paul Sartre, nous n’existons que lorsque nous sommes perçus par les autres. Ainsi, WaLuigi n’est ni bon ni mauvais dans un sens intrinsèque, télélogique, mais plutôt l’essence de la dualité de l’homme, en ce sens qu’il ne peut être vu que par la lentille et donc par le biais des autres. Au sens déontologique, il a le devoir de gagner à tout prix, à la fois utilitaire et déontologique. Mais quand WaLuigi est un ennemi de Luigi et de Mario, c’est un scénario de Huis Clos dans lequel «l’enfer c’est les autres».

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  12. Taking the Poison Mushroom: A Psychoanalytic Analysis of Waluigi (inspired by https://theemptypage.wordpress.com/…/critical-perspectives…/

    Who more perfectly encapsulates Freud’s conception of the ego than Mario Mario? He is action without underlying thought, the embodied pursuit of the morally good and the pleasurable. The reasons behind his actions are displaced to the superego, the player. The player, unbeknownst to Mario, dictates his every move and goal.

    This goal is to defeat the serpent, the dragon, the Bowser: a powerful mythological symbol of libidinal energy. To do this, Mario consumes phallic mushrooms to increase his power. This is a means to meet with the goddess, Princess Peach, the object of desire.

    Mario’s brother, Luigi, while initially lacking any characteristic distinction, was later reinterpreted as cowardly, a source of neurotic anxiety. And as a match to the player’s Superego, an ID was inserted into the Mario ethos. Wario: as pure an id as Mario is an ego. Wario craves wealth, food, fame, and never considers rational thought or morals: the pleasure principle personified.

    But what of Waluigi? A strange being, mirroring the id as Luigi’s anxiety mirrors Mario’s ego. Does Freud have a place for this anti-id, or super-id? Indeed, if Wario is the pleasure principle, Waluigi is the death drive, the common unconscious desire for self-destruction. It is the self-defeating, self-deprecating, self-loathing part of our psyche. Waluigi is everything we hate about the world and living within it.

    His characterization by voice actor Charles Martinet depicts him as constantly angry at everyone around him for “cheating.” He assumes that he will lose. His philosophy is pure defeatism. He is the source of Luigi’s neurotic tendencies and ultimately of the Ego’s eventual destruction. Waluigi is the desire for a game over screen, the wah-llowing pit of despair.

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  19. This is a really good article and a funny one too. I do have to agree with the last critical perspective on capitalism. Waluigi exists just to sell us something that we already have :((

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  21. What a bunch of fucking nonsense written by a bunch of fuckwits with too much time on their hands and an overactive imagination.

    If you think Nintendo does deep social commentary like these people allege, you’re out of your mind. It ain’t that deep.

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  24. Waluigi is blue ticks for the Daily Telegraph. Waluigi is adverts on Talksport. Waluigi is the overly-officious interpretation of VAR.

    Let me back up a little on this theological interpretation of our subject. Mario is clearly the Jesus of the piece. He is ‘of nowhere’ and appears as saviour, a recondite yet iconic figure around whom critical interpretation forms, and upon whom wider franchises are staked.

    The question of who Luigi is is overly-focused on his apparent blood relationship with Mario. This is a mistake. Luigi, Toad, Yoshi, Peach, etc: they are the the realm of the good, the babyface, that which is concerned with legal and spiritual order. Structuralists may mistake this as hegemony, which is superficially correct, but fails to account for Rainbow Road.

    Wario, as the post-modernists assume, is the septic inversion of Mario. More to the point, he is the devil (not Bowser, whose rage is borne of atavism) – the mirror traits of Mario. He encompasses all which is chaotic, bad, spiritually bereft. His frequent shibboleth “meh heh heh – Imma gonna win” speaks volumes about his desires and his belief in individualism and materialism at expense of the spiritual and communitarian. Remember, Marxists, your goal ultimately one of dividing up material spoils, and ignoring the real master.

    Therefore Waluigi, as Wario’s tennis partner, is functionally the same as Chain Chomp, Izzy, and Birdo: a figure of drudgery who orbits the negative realm without deciding its order or direction. Walugi is a LBC afternoon broadcast. Waluigi is KPI. Waluigi asking you to smash that like and subscribe button. It is the hollow complacent roar of a society without a soul, not even searching for one. It is enmity and death without ritual.

    The true question is: what is Donkey Kong?

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