When Nintendo finally lets Waluigi be the hero of his own game, it ought to be a dating simulator.
I’m serious and I have good reasons for this argument. Obviously, it’s unlikely Nintendo would make a dating sim of any kind, especially not with one of its major characters. But if they were to do it, there is no one better for the leading role than Waluigi. It seems equally unlikely he’ll ever get a leading role, though, since he is still waiting for one 20 years after his debut.
Forget all of that and entertain my fantasy for like 10 minutes. I refuse to give up hope that one of my favourite characters from the Mario Bros. franchise will one day have his Clark Gable moment. Eventually Nintendo will realize there are enough Waluigi fans that making a game centred on him in any genre would be tantamount to printing money. Until then, let’s talk about my idea.
Who is Waluigi?
Waluigi was born of necessity. His first appearance came in Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64. One of people working on the game, Fumihide Aoki of Camelot, felt that Wario needed a partner for doubles matches and that the game needed more human characters. Waluigi also ended up becoming Luigi’s rival, sort of. Luigi doesn’t take him seriously, commenting in that game that he wasn’t scared about what he saw (despite being a character known for being afraid of just about everything else). Official sources such as Super Smash Bros. Melee trophies hedge on the relationship, saying the purple brother “seems to be Luigi’s rival.”
Actually, that Super Smash Bros. Melee trophy tells us a lot about who he is.
This tall, thin, evil-looking guy seems to be Luigi’s rival. He works hard at his mischief: Waluigi reportedly spent a lot of time training for his debut in Mario Tennis by honing his ability to antagonize the Mario brothers. While it’s general knowledge that he’s the same age as Luigi, his relationship to Wario is unclear.
Polygon’s Brian David Gilbert does a deep dive on Waluigi, which I highly recommend, where he looks at every game the character has been in to glean information about his personality. He found that the purple fellow “is a misanthrope who loves to party” (relatable), he’s highly skilled at sports, mischievous, and that his ego is his own worst enemy. Waluigi’s voice actor, Charles Martinet, says self-pity is “the cornerstone of his character” but also that he is “tremendously funny and silly and ridiculous”. So essentially, he’s a shy jock with a dark side, but also a goofy side.
Waluigi is a great illustration of the complicated hero dynamics of the Mario universe. Technically he’s a bad guy, just as Wario is. But Wario gets to play hero sometimes, having helmed his own series of platformers and several minigame collections. Neither of them is as evil as Bowser, and even Bowser takes the role of Mario ally sometimes. I think of Waluigi and Wario as the Reggie and Moose to Mario and Luigi’s Archie and Jughead.
Why the snub?
The fact Waluigi is a foil to Luigi shouldn’t stop him from getting his own game. But to date, he has only appeared in sports games like Mario Tennis or party games such as Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, where he is at least the main antagonist.
He also hasn’t appeared in any Super Smash Bros. games despite much outcry from fans. His absence there has started to make sense to me as I researched this article. He loves sports but sticks to non-contact events like tennis, golf, soccer and racing – violence just isn’t his thing. He’d rather compete in Mario Party minigames than on a battlefield.
That makes him a bit tough to design around. You can’t put him in a game that involves defeating enemies, since he wouldn’t want to do that. His game would have to be a nonviolent one. But Wario has cornered the market on minigames, Luigi is the survival-horror guy, Mario is also a puzzle master and Toad is the treasure-hunting expert. We’re running out of space to work with.
Let’s return to what we know about his personality. He’s shy, so trying to break him out of his shell could be a good conflict to explore. Sports and partying are two things he loves to do, and those could both help him become more sociable. He has an ego and is full of self pity, two traits that will hold him back as he tries to leave his shell.
Where I run into trouble is his motivation. Right now, it is antagonizing Luigi, but that’s something we could flesh out in a stand-alone game. It’s hard to develop broad motivations for someone when, really, his motivation has been to play a good round of tennis/golf/soccer/baseball/various Olympic sports in the games where he has appeared.
A Waluigi dating sim though?
I have a few reasons for settling on dating sim.
First, the conflict I set up lends itself well to the genre. Waluigi can break out of his shell by interacting with people and going on dates with them. These dates can involve the sporting activities that our purple friend loves so much.
Second, Waluigi is well liked on the internet, but not well defined. Some read him as gay, others say he could be asexual. Frankly, he could be almost anywhere under the LGBTQ umbrella. A dating sim would allow players to explore the scenarios that feel right to them, while preserving the potential he presents by offering no canonical ending. And he’s ideal to play the role precisely because so many people do care about him. People want to see him succeed and I think they would love to help him overcome that shell.
Third, his raison d’être is to be a partner. Remember, he was created to pair up with Wario on the tennis court. To date, he has played mainly supporting roles. The only place he was an antagonist was on the dance floor. All of this screams lover to me. And in fact, the games depict him having a crush (albeit unreciprocated) on Daisy, who seems to have eyes for only Luigi (who won’t make a move). Canonically, he’s a romantic guy.
So what is this game about?
I think the Daisy angle is interesting, but I don’t want her to be a romance option in the game. No one likes a dude who can’t face facts and accept rejection, so Waluigi’s dating sim will begin with him coming to terms with the fact he and Daisy will never be an item. Feeling lonely but determined to move on, he heads to New Donk City on a month-long vacation. The trip is funded by his tennis winnings. Upon arrival, he comes to find that he’s quite popular, likely because of his abilities on the court/green/pitch/diamond/various Olympic venues.
He gets no choice about being social because so many people want to talk to him. He’ll like the attention, but find it all a bit overwhelming. Potential romantic partners will offer him a middle ground where he can be social but on a more intimate, less intimidating scale. The player can decide how he navigates his interactions and with whom he best connects.
Whom exactly is he connecting with? How about other disrespected characters from Mario sports games. Remember Elroy, Ace, Maple, Tori or Plum? Of course not; they have it harder than our purple friend in that none of them has ever been invited back to play with the brothers Mario. Waluigi hasn’t forgotten them, though. In fact, people who he sort of knows already are the perfect characters to rise above the crowds of adoring fans he meets in New Donk. I think we’d want more than five options, so I’ve included the goth enby Beatrix seen in the picture above. Despite their goth exterior, they love sports and have a penchant for golf.
For dates, pairings could take part in sports or party activities that Waluigi is known to enjoy. Golf, tennis, dancing, kart racing and speed-eating a massive pizza while moving on your stomach like a worm (a real minigame from Mario Party 3) are all great date activities, and they would also allow Nintendo to work in a minigame angle to make this game stand out among dating sims. In addition to dialogue options, Waluigi could raise his relationship level with potential dates based on his performance in the minigames. Beatrix, for example, loves golf but hates eating pizza in worm formation. A good round of golf will impress them, but they would find a record-setting pizza eating time off-putting. You would be trying to manipulate your performance based on your date, which fits with Waluigi’s mischievous personality.
I think there should be an ending that preserves the mystery of Waluigi that sees him return to … wherever he lives without a partner, just a bunch of reinforced friendships and no emotional baggage toward Daisy. That’s probably what I’d go with, though I obviously feel an affinity to my goth golf-loving OC too. Let’s be real, I’d probably try a few different endings.
Nintendo could go in several different directions with this. It could create all new characters as romance options (which would probably help it fill out rosters in sports games). Or it could lean more toward social simulator than dating, using pre-existing characters to help Waluigi become less shy. I’d be happy with either option.
(Actually, Camelot played with the idea of making their new human character an evil version of Peach before settling on evil Luigi. Maybe this social sim could bring back the idea. But no Wapeach nonsense. Call her Dahlia or Viola or something and give her a cool silver, crimson or dark purple colour palette. Then leave their relationship ambiguous but have them cause lots of trouble, preferably with Wario involved.)
I’ve become way too invested in this idea and I should stop before I end up making the damn game. Let me know if you’d play this game or if you have another idea for something Waluigi could star in. Until next time, wah!