By Darren Franich
June 08, 2011 at 06:40 PM EDT
Courtesy of Nintendo

In the short, eventful history of videogaming, is there anyone more fundamentally tragic than Mario’s brother, Luigi? He is one of the most well-known game heroes. He has starred in several of the greatest and most popular games in history. In sharp contrast to his older brother — a failed physician-turned-racecar driver who throws horrible, endless parties and resembles a less fashionable clone of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec — Luigi is tall, slender, and affable. He can jump extremely high. He owns a mansion. And yet, he is forever trapped in the shadow of his more famous sibling. No one will ever refer to Luigi as “Super.” Sure, he can play for free at most golf and tennis clubs, but only if he brings his brother. The poor sap has an unrequited crush on Princess Daisy — one of Mario’s ex-girlfriends! Everything about Luigi sounds like a cruel cosmic joke designed to remind him that he is not Mario. According to the long-form birth certificate, his full name is “Luigi Mario.” By way of comparison, imagine if Richard Nixon’s full name was “Richard Milhous Uglier-And-Less-Charismatic-Than-JFK Nixon.”

Nintendo will occasionally give the poor guy the opportunity to emerge from his brother’s shadow, and like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News, Luigi never fails to utterly squander opportunities. In his first starring role, Mario is Missing, Luigi putzed around the world learning several valuable lessons about globalization. In Luigi’s Mansion, Mario went missing again, and Luigi had to fight ghosts with… a vacuum cleaner. It was like Super Mario Sunshine, except without the sunshine and also terrible. The GameCube never recovered from the stench of lameness. Presumably, after the failure of Mansion, Luigi descended into a spiral of depression and prescription drugs. In Super Mario Galaxy, he appeared confused and over-anxious, regularly requiring his brother to rescue him from the simplest traps. His reputation as the Johnny Drama of videogames was thus cemented.

But yesterday, at E3, Nintendo warned consumers about the impending arrival of Luigi’s Mansion 2 on the 3DS, probably because the interns needed something to work on and it was either this or Wario’s Woods 2. In the preview video, Luigi gets scared and points his vacuum cleaner at ghosts. (Yeesh, even Goofy the Dog was a more badass ghost hunter.) But don’t take my word for it! Check out the Mansion video below.

PopWatchers, could this finally be the kid’s breakout? Or will he forever be the Garfunkel to Mario’s Simon?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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