Nintendo is notorious for surprising players with games that fall on both sides of the fan service spectrum. Whether we’ll ever get a title starring the beloved anti-hero duo that is Wario and Waluigi is unknown, but it would sure make for a wonderfully bizarre outing.
For years now Nintendo has featured Wario and Waluigi, who have never been officially announced as “bros.”, in their popular Mario sports titles. We’ve seen them race, dunk, swing and golf their way to glory since Waluigi’s first appearance in 2000's Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64. Longtime Mario fans have always found their gruff indifference and over-the-top boasting strangely charming. So why haven’t the pointy eared rascals gotten their own title yet?
Before we get into why Wario and crew are worthy of their own adventures, we need to talk about everyone’s (supposed) favorite mustachioed Goomba stomper and why he needs to share the spotlight.
Players the world over have gotten to know Mario, Nintendo’s flagship mascot, for over 30 years. And what have we learned about him in that time? Virtually nothing. The biggest peeks into the life of the pudgy plumber have come in the various RPG series that he has starred in over the years (Paper Mario comes to mind), but even these don’t really bring us much information on who Mario is and why we should like him. Mario is not a great character, he’s simply a cheery everyman who happens to be thrown into some of the best designed and scored games on the planet. He is a vehicle for anything and everything Nintendo thinks might have legs. A figurehead who always saves the day and can’t seem to drop that bit of excess weight despite all his sporting events.
In short, Mario is boring.
He’s too much of a blank slate to have any personality.
I love the guy, and I’ll buy his games until my dying breath, but he’s essentially the embodiment of his, “Woo hoo!” catchphrase - a loud, gleeful burst of fun that has no real depth. Not that he really needs any. Mario is a wonderful vessel for players to project their own goodnatured personalities onto. But not every player wants to be good. Sometimes it’s more fun to be the fat, greedy elf with a heart of garlic.
There aren’t a lot of Nintendo games staring anti-heroes or villains. When browsing the company’s most popular titles the only ones that put baddies at the forefront are ensemble brawlers like Smash Bros. and Hyrule Warriors. Wario is really Nintendo’s go-to when it comes to putting more of a rotten spin on things. It’s a shame he hasn’t had his own adventure since 2008. Much like poor Samus Aran, Wario has been devoid of a proper excursion in nearly a decade.
Wario’s partner in crime, Waluigi, hasn’t even been featured as a playable character in a non-sports or party title since... ever! He was even shafted in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, assigned to the lowly position of “Assist Trophy” as Wario sat, likely heartbroken, on the official roster alone. A sad fate for the purple string bean whose odd displays of physical ability and trademark “WAH!” has turned him into a walking talking meme in recent years.
But why pick Wario and Waluigi over some of Nintendo’s other well-known characters? What makes the gruesome twosome so alluring is their perfect balance of villainy and overall weirdness. Watching any cut scene from a Wario Land or WarioWare title reveals that Wario truly only cares for himself. He thrives on the thrill of stealing glory from others, be it in the form of a soul-crushing victory or physical gold. Both he and Waluigi are self-centered money-grubbing cheaters. And boy are they good at it.
Let me tell you about a game. A game that did decently well with fans and critics alike. In fact it sold a whopping 10 millions copies to date. I’m speaking of the 3DS title New Super Mario Bros. 2. It looks like this.
I have played and beaten this game more than once, and every time I think about the concepts involved it breaks my brain that Nintendo chose Mario to star in it. Why? Because this is a game focused on collecting gold. You know, one of those things that Wario is known for lusting over in nearly all of his adventures to date.
Who at Nintendo thought, “Oh, a game about trying to get as much money as possible? You know who’d be great for that? MARIO AGAIN!” I mean, I guess if you want to sell games you put Mario on your cover. I can’t really blame Nintendo for wanting to make a profit... but come on. New Super Mario Bros. 2 should have been New Super Wario Bros., and we all know it.
But why stop there?
There is no doubt in my mind that any development team at Nintendo could produce a fine Wario Bros. platformer (and I would surely love it). But would it give our degenerate chums enough room to shine? To truly be their bizarre selves? I think not.
The world of platforming is obviously a fast-paced one. A setting where characters with personality beyond “magical plumber” or “really fast hedgehog” don’t have much room to grow. It’s not the best space for creative character building. What we need... is a Wario Bros. RPG.
Think about it.
Two unlikely heroes, oozing with sweaty charm and an ambitious goal to become filthy stinking rich. Garlic power-ups and strangely choreographed fart-powered attacks. A story that’s more joke than substance, with dialogue based around catty insults and enraged grunting. It’s strangely perfect. It all fits, like a jigsaw puzzle made of stinky cheese.
What’s best is that Nintendo has teams who can handle such a feat with aplomb. Writers who have worked on the Paper Mario or Mario and Luigi series could easily create a wacky role playing adventure for the likes of Wario and Waluigi. The environments and creative battle systems could easily be applied to the strange twin worlds that Wario inhabits. One full of mini games and madness, the other filled with treasure and the infamous food-themed pirates known as The Black Sugar Gang.
The possibilities are staggering.
Wario and Waluigi are enjoyable in a way that Nintendo doesn’t seem to fully understand. A way that’s more over-the-top and zany than their average characters. It’s like they don’t even realize the goldmine of stellar content they’re sitting on top of. Nintendo has gone out on a limb before to give second-tier characters like Princess Peach and Captain Toad their own titles, with somewhat underwhelming results. There are plenty of niche second-hand characters in the world of Nintendo that could headline their own series, but none with a fan base like the Wario Bros. The audience is there, and knowing them, they’re up for just about anything.
I doubt we’ll see a proper title starring Wario and Waluigi any time soon, and the odds of us ever getting an RPG are even less likely, but maybe someday these charismatic weirdos will get the recognition they deserve. Until then I’ll just wait with bated breath and prepare myself for the inevitable announcement of Wario Land: Federation Force.