This post was originally written as a userblog for Destructoid on 06.08.2013
It’s a great year for Luigi. Finally taking the spotlight from his big brother and summoning up the courage to stay in it longer than ever. After more than two decades, it seems he’s finally coming to terms with his identity. Shaping into something more than the infinite Player Two. Good thing too, because his popular big brother doesn’t even exist.
Luigi has been living in two worlds. In one, he’s a nobody. Just some plumber who isn’t very good at his job. He has no friends, no family. Not a single person cares about him. As a kid, he had and imaginary friend that he called Mario.
Mario was everything Luigi wasn’t. Mario was popular. Mario had courage. Mario always got the girl.
When Luigi first started working at his plumbing job, he came to the realization that he hated doing this. Plumbing just wasn’t him. It was then that he started thinking back to his childhood, misspent on adventures with his fictional older brother, Mario.
The first adventure Luigi ever fantasized of having together with Mario was shortly after he saw the King Kong movie. Finding an empty construction site, Luigi climbed and ran through the empty bare bones of a building as he imagined the scenario from King Kong. His brother Mario was leading the way. Together they did their best to bringing down the evil ape and rescue a girl named Pauline. Luigi already knew he didn’t have the courage to go first or to talk to girls by then, so he let his brother lead the way. Mario was a symbol or courage. Whenever Luigi found life difficult, he’d imagine he was Mario. Even if just for a moment, it’d help him face tough situations where he could use a boost.
The years went on and Luigi’s fantasies started getting more complicated. A whole kingdom full of mushroom people was built up for him, his brother, and a princess to live in. The adventures became longer and more difficult. The goal becoming more and more distant as Luigi started diving deeper into his escapist world. Working as a plumber, aspects of pipes and underground worlds would always stay as important parts of his visions. No matter how hard he’d try to forget his day job.
When asked what kept him going, Luigi opened up easily to people. He’d tell them about the Mushroom Kingdom, his brother Mario, the Toadstool princess, and the evil Koopa King. It didn’t take long before Luigi was put on medication. The medication made it even harder for him to differentiate between the real world and his fantasies. After a few months, Luigi started calling the doctor who prescribed them Mario. When that happened, the medication plans were quickly scrapped and Luigi was put under stricter observation.
Things got much worse from that moment on. Mario took over.
Luigi’s fantasy world was overhauled. The princess changed her name, the adventures became much more complex, and worst of all, Mario stopped taking Luigi with him. Night after night, Luigi dreamed how his brother would go out and save the day without his help. He wasn’t needed anymore. In the real world as well as in his own fantasy world, Luigi was just an obstacle. Someone with no value.
Every now and again Luigi would imagine these grand parties and outings where Mario would still invite him. Everyone got invited though, even the likes of Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Wario. To Luigi, being there felt like an empty gesture. Still, he’d show up every single time though. It was better than nothing.
When his doctor noticed his situation was worsening, he was put on medication again. This time he ended up calling the doctor by the name of Wario. His situation worsened.
One night, sitting in the darkness, Luigi had a panic attack. Everything seemed worse than ever. He wasn’t working as a plumber anymore. He was locked up because he’d gone crazy and he knew it. The fantasy world that he’d always escaped to had ended up turning against him. The future scared him. In the past, whenever he’d get afraid of something, he’d summon Mario’s courage. Back then he knew Mario didn’t exist, that Mario was a fantasy, but still, it gave him comfort. Maybe it was time to summon up that courage again.
That’s what Luigi did. He summoned Mario’s courage. The ghosts of his past blocked his path and instead of running away, he faced them one by one. For the first time, Luigi was facing something by himself. He was searching for Mario. He was searching for his courage, as well as his sanity.
While he did succeed in his efforts, it took a long time to really sink in that he wasn’t as much of a loser as he’d once imagined. Mario was still going on grand adventures by himself, but by now Luigi had enough confidence in his abilities to not be bothered by it. He started appearing besides Mario again. While more active in his fantasy life, the effects became quickly apparent in the real world. Released from observation and free from medication, Luigi started to patch up his life again.
Finally realizing his creativity and how rich his fantasy life was, he seized control of it and took a more active role in them. Mario will always be a major part of his world, but now it’s the Year of Luigi. Nothing’s going to take that away from him. He’s learned that it’s okay to be the Player Two, so long as you also find dreams to chase on your own.