Today marks the 20th anniversary of Waluigi’s debut in Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64. In the decades since, the lanky loser has become something of a meme among gamers. But I’m here to say that, no, my love for Waluigi is pure, and I’m sick of hiding it behind a veil of irony.
There are several reasons Waluigi holds a special place in my heart. I love the color purple. I adore tall, lanky men. I like mustaches (also non-ironically; I dare you to tell me John Waters doesn’t look sharp). As a good servant of capitalism, I often express this affection by purchasing stuff. I have a Waluigi plush and Amiibo, of course, but I’ve also spent good money on unofficial fare, like a tee shirt that combines the skull logo of iconic punk band Misfits with Waluigi’s pointy ears, hat, and facial hair. (Thanks Jaime Ugarte!)
Waluigi also occupies an interesting place in the Mario series’ Plumber Alignment Chart, if you will. Mario is heroic and impetuous. Wario, his mirror image, magnifies that recklessness into an all-encompassing greed. Luigi, who may seem like a coward at first glance, proves he’s the most courageous of the bunch by constantly overcoming that fear. Waluigi, his mirror image, also surmounts an inherent fear of his own powerlessness, only via treachery and deceit rather than bravery.
It could be said that Mario, Wario, and Luigi all have the capacity to be sympathetic figures; Waluigi stands apart as the one truly irredeemable scoundrel. It could also be said that our personalities, as unique as they may be in totality, harbor aspects of Mario, Wario, Luigi, and Waluigi. But, for obvious reasons, the latter never gets to shine. While it’s certainly not healthy for long stretches, I will suggest that, sometimes, it can feel great to be an unrepentant garbage fire.
Listen, the world sucks. It’s hard to muster enough Mario to get through the day. We often must rely on just enough Luigi to stand up to the constant stream of injustice and pain. Hell, our inner Wario serves a purpose too, even if that purpose is to single-mindedly pursue our own desires when things get desperate. But on this, the sacred day of Waluigi, I think it’s the perfect time to connect with those aspects of our psyche that scream for petty revenge, mumbled comebacks, and savage crotch chops.
Just… maybe don’t wallow in that swamp for too long.