Mario is missing, (quite frankly it’s about time) and now that he’s out of the way, Luigi has a chance to shine!
Sadly, Luigi’s chance to shine was Mario is Missing. There’s a reason no one legitimately cares about Luigi—you might think you do, but you don’t: you’re only deluding yourself as a way of rebelling against the mainstream Mario-love. No one really cares about Mario either, but he’s so ingrained in pop culture that he’s impossible to avoid and so there’s a certain sick acceptance of him and his fat fucking face.
Luigi has no such cultural weight behind him: he’s useless. There’s no game called “Luigi is Lost” because no one would look for him, not even Mario. Mario probably spends his time punching Yoshi in the face and laughing throatily as the poor dumb dinosaur staggers around bumping into bookshelves and vomiting fruit. Mario is the kind of guy who stubs out his cigar in your face. Luigi doesn’t smoke and has to leave the room when people do. He hates the way Mario treats Yoshi but is too afraid of his brother’s disapproval to say anything about it. He just leaves the receipts for the vet around and hopes that Mario will find them and feel bad. He doesn’t.
That’s already one strike against Mario is Missing: forcing people to play as Luigi. Although Luigi was pretty funny to play as in SMB2 thanks to his spastic legs, he was still more or less a waste of overalls. He is the mushroom kingdom’s pathos personified, but fails even there. Do we feel pity for Luigi? No, we feel nothing. An emotional void surrounds Luigi, his every action overshadowed by his horrible hobbit-like brother.
The second strike against Mario is Missing comes from the fact that it’s not a real game. You just walk around in a completely non-threatening environment (you can walk past the Koopas and you’re fine) collecting information from the inhabitants of various cities around the world. All of this questing could have been avoided with modern GPS technology or even a connection to the Internet, but this was back in the day, and so Luigi has to walk. And ride Yoshi. And probably cry secretly. And openly.
Because Mario is Missing is completely devoid of threat to the player, you can play the game passively, which doesn’t work so well: Mario is Missing wants you to read. It wants you to pay attention, but offers you no incentive to do so. If you like learning about geography or history, reading a book is a far quicker and more enjoyable experience. If you like playing a Mario game, ANY OTHER Mario game is a far superior and more enjoyable experience.
This isn’t a real Mario game, and it isn’t a real game; it’s an overlong class exercise disguised as a game. This is your dad trying to be cool by talking about professional wrestling. Maybe for a split second the other kids don’t think he’s completely uncool, but then he pees his pants and his phone has an Elton John ringtone.
“I love that cold as stone guy!”
/Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today/
“Uhh…guess I shouldn’t have drank all those beers.”