Waluigi's fans upset with Nintendo snub

Nintendo has given gaming character Waluigi only a supporting role in a highly anticipated new video game called Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
Nintendo has given gaming character Waluigi only a supporting role in a highly anticipated new video game called Super Smash Bros Ultimate.PHOTO: WALUIGI/ INSTAGRAM

BOSTON •Waluigi was once hated by Nintendo fans, who listed him among gaming's most annoying characters and a switch-off.

But they have since found a soft spot for the underdog and are now raising a stink that Waluigi has been betrayed by - of all people - the folk at Nintendo itself.

The company has relegated him to just playing a supporting role in a highly anticipated new video game called Super Smash Bros Ultimate, for its Switch console.

In the Nintendo universe, Waluigi is supposed to be as villainous as his cartoonish moustache and perpetual frown would suggest.

But what made him that way? Perhaps it is Nintendo's insistence on humiliating the character in front of his friends and the general public.

On Tuesday, for the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Nintendo announced new details about Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

The 25-minute presentation revealed that the latest game includes every single playable character in the fighting game franchise's 19-year history.

It seemed to exceed fan expectations, except for supporters of Waluigi. He, once again, was snubbed by Nintendo. He will not be a playable character in the new game.

Waluigi has travelled a long road, but a glorious end is still not in sight.

His origin story is unimpressive. Waluigi is simply a bizarre version of Mario's less-famous but more charming brother Luigi.

In his 18-year existence as a minor character, Waluigi has had virtually no back story. But that blank canvas ended up becoming his greatest source of power.

Since he stood for nothing, supporters could project their wildest hopes on him.

He could be described as a "true nowhere man". In the meme universe, Waluigi is a wronged, strangely sexual anti-hero who suffers one injustice after another.

Just this year, Twitter the company made an example of him, explaining its new policy on hateful conduct by misusing his glorious visage and users had to jump to his defence.

Even children know that Waluigi deserves better, a fate that Nintendo does not seem ready to deliver.

Take Ode To Waluigi, a poem written by a Canadian fourth-grader in 2012. Sam Daly of Leo Nickerson Elementary beat hundreds of other children to win first place in a national writing contest.

A relevant and key passage from his poem read: "Why does thou not have thy own video game?"

Waluigi's impossibly nasal voice has also been remixed in the hottest tracks of recent years, including Uptown Funk (2014) by singer Bruno Mars and Wild Thoughts (2017) by DJ Khaled featuring singer Rihanna.

So before Nintendo's presentation this week, fans anticipated that Waluigi would finally join the fight.

Nothing prepared them for the crushing news.

First, Nintendo announced Princess Daisy as an "echo fighter".

She is an obscure character who first appeared as a distressed damsel in Super Mario Land for the original Game Boy in 1989.

She did not resurface until Mario Tennis in 2000, which was also Waluigi's first appearance.

Since the turn of the century, both characters had been relegated to spin-off Mario games, usually involving sports or group activities. They attend Mario parties. They drive Mario karts. They play soccer, golf and more tennis.

Suddenly, this year, Princess Daisy is an "echo character - which means that, in the game, she has the same fighting moves as another character, but you can play as her.

The fact that Princess Daisy (long rumoured to be Luigi's love interest) is playable before Waluigi is already savage.

It gets worse. Suddenly, 17 minutes into the presentation, Waluigi makes an appearance. And it is yet another slap in the face for his fans.

Waluigi is a mere "assist" character. Twitter's reaction was swift.

"Make Waluigi an echo character at least, you cowards," demanded a fan in his tweet.

Sarcasm was fired off by another Tweeter user, who wrote: "Waluigi was asked to be in Smash yet again.

"But he respectfully declined because he's a pacifist who just wants to play tennis with his friends."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2018, with the headline 'Waluigi's fans upset with Nintendo snub'. Print Edition | Subscribe