Constantly forgotten and left in his brother’s shadow but still fighter #09 in Ultimate: green Mario. Enough poetry and jokes, let’s tackle honestly one of my favourite fighters in Smash: Luigi!
This tall green plumber started off as the lesser known twin of the Mario Bros, originally appearing to assist his brother. It wasn’t until 2001, 20 years after the birth of the Mario franchise that Luigi became the cowardly hero of his own game, Luigi’s Mansion. And now, Nintendo may roast him all they want but he has won the love of the community with his infamous meme, Weegee.
There since the very start of the Smash Bros. franchise, Luigi’s moveset has evolved with his reputation throughout the years. He started off as a mere echo fighter of Mario, but he is now so much more. Luigi has stayed a medium weight close-combat brawler with average speed, like his brother. However, his special attacks are what make him… well… special, by trading the many tools Mario had for actual attacks and unique abilities.
At his core, Luigi is very similar to Mario, with his normal attacks the heart of his kit. He throws some decently quick jabs and tilts, with some moderately powerful smash attacks. And again the aerials are the most important parts of the moveset. All of them are extremely quick with minimal lag time, with the forward-air being the quickest. The up-air great for juggling, back-air for finishing, down-air for spiking and neutral-air for all-round attack. As Jumpman’s brother, it’s in the air where he shines.
Luigi,however, diverges from the path set by Mario with his specials. The neutral B is not so unique, it is a simple Fireball that moves straight ahead and can stagger opponents. Luigi’s side-special is his Green Missile, a charged attack that makes him dive forwards head-first into his enemies. This should be used mostly as a horizontal recovery; however, this attack also comes with a surprise. Indeed, at every use Green Missile has a 1 in 10 chance of exploding, propelling Luigi even further and faster. This is a nice finisher for any unsuspecting enemy, but one has to count on their luck for this to be the case.
His up-special is the Super Jump Punch, a purely vertical recovery move with a twist: if Luigi hits the sweet spot at the very beginning of this move, it will hit the opponent critically and can kill an opponent who is at 60%! To do so Luigi must be facing the enemy fighter, stand as close as possible to them, as he does his Super Jump Punch. Beware, however, both his up- and side-special have a very long lag-time so are easily punished if you miss them. For a safer attack, you have his down-special, the Luigi Cyclone, a spinning attack with invincibility frames at the start and a generous hitbox and knockback as opponents get sucked in.
In addition to his already very quirky specials, Luigi has 2 other notable traits to top the icing on the cake. He is first of all the proud owner of a ghost-sucking vacuum cleaner, which he uses as a tether grab. However ridiculous it may look, it is still an incredibly useful attribute to grab opponents from a safe distance.
And saving the best for last, Luigi has a forbidden technique call the Weegee kick. A move so good that it is banned from online play: his down-taunt. That’s right, Luigi is the only character to have a taunt that actually does something; it does only 2.4% damage but it spikes! It is immensely difficult to pull off as the timing has to be just right but if you manage to 2-frame an enemy as they recover with the Weegee kick, you’ll have an extremely satisfying kill. Sadly, Thanks to Nintendo’s ‘No Fun Allowed Online’ rule, this secret technique is banned in quickplay as all taunts are disabled, so you’ll have to invite your friends over or create an arena to humiliate them personally.
Despite all his funny moves and specials, it is crucial to keep in mind that Luigi is first and foremost a combo character. In order to win, you will need to abuse the speed of your aerials to chain attacks on your opponent without allowing them to fight back in. In particular, the down-aerial should be used at the end of every aerial play to spike the enemy fighter on the stage, leaving you more time to land, follow up with another attack, to ultimately keep the combo going. Once they have enough percentage, you can finish them off with one of your specials, smash attacks, or throws. Once you have mastered the Weegee, you will be able to pull off some zero to death combos (check out the great video from Beefy Smash Doods for more details on “Luigi’s Insane Combo Game”).
Overall, Luigi is a mid-tier character because his attacks seem to be designed to be funny rather than reliable. This green plumber still poses a great threat thanks to his great combo potential, his quirky specials and techniques are just an added bonus to enjoy. So even if he sometimes feels like Nintendo’s biggest joke, I highly suggest you try him out and give him the love he deserves. However, he might soon be dethroned as the king of memes in the Smash games by a rumoured DLC fighter also in the Mario Bros. franchise: Purple Luigi…