Last week, during the Nintendo Direct mini that was filled with game announcements coming to the Switch in the first half of 2018, Nintendo announced Luigi’s Balloon World: a DLC update coming to Super Mario Odyssey. In Luigi’s Balloon World, players control Mario (not Luigi) and can either hide balloons within its various worlds over the course of thirty seconds, or find balloons hidden by others in thirty seconds as well. It’s an online-based, semi-asymmetrical, competitive multiplayer mode that Nintendo describes as “objective-based speed running.” The mode will probably gain a decent following, and may even start a new trend for Nintendo to start including unique online elements that further differentiate their games from the competitor’s. Have a look at the announcement if you haven’t already:
The thing is, this DLC has almost nothing to do with Luigi. In it, Mario continues to run, jump, swim and capture enemies while still having the freedom to play the base game, change wardrobes, pilot around in a magical space ship and totally impress Princess Peach with his skeleton outfit. Meanwhile, Luigi’s only apparent role in his own DLC is that of a balloon distributor wearing a green bowtie, because we all know balloon salesmen wear bowties.
What fans wanted was for Luigi to be playable, like he’s been in Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario World, the original Super Mario Bros. and so much more. It’s not out of the question to exclude Luigi as a playable character in a mainline Mario game, but to relegate this relatively slight DLC to the oft-neglected brother seems cruel. It wasn’t long ago that there was a “Year of Luigi” – the Wii U was graced with New Super Luigi U and the 3DS received Dr. Luigi and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. He’s played sports, fought in brawls and melees, raced karts and so much more at his brother’s level, but so far as the Switch is concerned, he’s just…there.
The Switch has been around for less than a year, so it’s too early to claim that Nintendo is just ignoring the superior Mario Brother (he’s taller, can jump further, and is an expert ghost hunter – who cares if he slips around a bit?) What would be a big win for Luigi, and Nintendo fans in general, is if Nintendo went all-in on another Luigi-centric game. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was a marked improvement over the original Luigi’s Mansion, and we’d rather not wait another decade or more for a third game in the series to blow our socks off. Next Level Games, the developer that worked on Dark Moon, hasn’t announced a current project, so why not commission them to make a new entry for the Switch? Sure, their last game was Metroid Prime Federation Force, but let’s not hold that against them. People make mistakes.
Then there’s the classic Mario & Luigi RPG series, which has been in a general state of decline since the superb Bowser’s Inside Story for the DS. It’s traditionally only been a handheld series for Nintendo, but guess what? The Switch is a handheld and the Mario & Luigi franchise’s brand of off-color, light-hearted comedy mixed with simple-yet-enjoyable gameplay would fill out the console’s fantastic line-up even further. Though seeing the Paper Mario series return to its glory days of the N64 and GameCube would perhaps be preferable, those games never featured the green-loving, slippery footed brother. And that’s what we’re here for: Luigi.
Just think about it, everyone: Luigi. LUIGI. He’s gifted the world with his death stare, given us the glory that is his pitiful whine, and he’s even lived a seemingly celibate, princess-free life (unless you ‘ship him and Daisy, which we all should) and he deserves the world. He’s got the shape of an L on his forehead and he’s constantly living in someone else’s shadow: he’s all of us. Now’s the time, Nintendo, to embrace this goofball and let him shine. It might be too late to add him into Super Mario Odyssey, but his solo games have sold well and he’s known around the world. Luigi deserves better, Nintendo.