The untold truth of Waluigi

There are minor video game characters, and then there's Waluigi. This lanky, purple-loving villain first showed up in 2000's Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64, and ever since, he's teamed with Wario to wreak havoc in multiple Nintendo games. You've likely heard a lot about this side character in the Nintendo universe, and perhaps you're confused as to why. Rest assured, you'll be filled in. But also know this: Waluigi wasn't always a popular figure amongst Nintendo fans.

IGN once called both Wario and Waluigi "evil twin knockoffs." Kotaku wrote an entire list of annoying video game characters and put Waluigi at #3. Yet Waluigi has had a staying power that other side characters haven't quite been able to match. And he has one of the more interesting backstories in video games, from his creation — which might surprise you — all the way to his newfound rockstar status within a subset of the gaming community.

Today, you'll learn some brand new things about Waluigi, and why "he'sa numba wan" in the hearts and minds of many gamers.

He has a very fitting name

The similarities between Luigi and Waluigi can't be ignored. They're both tall and skinny, with Waluigi's dimensions more exaggerated. Both rock a cap with the letter L on it, though Waluigi prefers that L upside-down, thank you. And perhaps the most obvious connection between the two: the appearance of "Luigi" in their names. But what's with the "Wa" at the front of Waluigi? Is it significant in any way? As it turns out, yes, it is.

"Wah!" is more than just something Waluigi yells while he's speeding around in Mario Kart. Instead, Wa is actually clipped from the beginning of the word Warui, which means "bad" in Japanese. Attaching it to the front of Luigi essentially turns Waluigi into "bad Luigi" — just as Wario means "bad Mario." These are the roles the two characters were built for, as they basically serve as the yin to the yang of Mario and Luigi in the Nintendo universe.

You can't have a good guy without a wa-guy.

He has a cult-like fandom online

The internet has a funny way of making the unpopular popular. It can turn underdogs into heroes by elevating the oft-neglected to legendary status. These people embrace the counterculture — they reject what the majority prefers and go their own way. And they're doing it with Waluigi, who has risen from the ranks of "mid-tier Mario character" to become one of the most popular characters in the franchise, seemingly overnight.

You could say the Waluigi fanbase has become somewhat cult-like. The people who adore Waluigi are all about him, creating fan art in his honor and pledging their allegiance where they can. Some — albeit jokingly — even created a Change.org petition to "Recognize Waluigi As A Worldwide Religion." And now Waluigi memes can be found all over the web, further cementing his place in pop culture.

These kinds of things tend to come and go, and there's no guarantee that Waluigi will be quite as popular as time goes on. But for the moment, it's Waluigi's world, and we're all living in it.

He and Mario share a voice actor

Charles Martinet has done quite a bit of video game voice work over the years. He's the dragon Paarthurnax in Skyrim. He's the narrator in Runner2 and Runner3. And he provided the voices for the announcer, referee, and all the boxers in Super Punch-Out!! But no video game series has provided him quite as much work as the Mario franchise, where, since 1995, he's voiced Mario in mainline Super Mario games, Mario PartyMario KartMario Tennis, and more.

But Charles Martinet has a few tricks up his sleeve. As a professional voice actor, he's able to take on a number of different voices — including that of Waluigi.

Martinet has embraced the role of Waluigi as the character's popularity has increased, even going so far as to use one of Waluigi's catchphrases when responding to fan questions. One fan asked Martinet via Twitter direct message if Waluigi was gay. Martinet, not really knowing the canonical answer, responded as only Waluigi could: "Wa?"

He's never starred in his own official game ...

There are a bunch of Super Mario characters who've landed their own games. Luigi's had some. Yoshi's had several. Toad recently appeared in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Wario has become the go-to source for mini-games. And you could have a heated debate on whether or not Donkey Kong goes on the list, but that's a discussion for another day. The point stands: there have been a lot of Mario spin-offs, with lesser characters getting a chance to shine all on their own.

But not Waluigi.

Waluigi has appeared in dozens of Mario titles, and has even teamed up with his partner Wario in some of that character's games. But he's never solely owned the spotlight. There's been no Waluigi Land to speak of, nor has there been a Waluigi-focused collection of mini-games like there was for Wario. Instead, Waluigi has been a character who simply comes off the bench when he's needed. He's useful for filling out the rosters of sports games, or for giving Luigi a rival in single player experiences. But he's never been the leading man.

... but he headlines quite a few fan-made titles

Some fans, however, have felt that Waluigi deserves a starring role. To them, it's an absolute travesty that Waluigi, in all his purple-clad glory, hasn't headlined a game. And they've been doing something about it, which is how we've gotten projects like Sea of Greed.

Sea of Greed started out as a pirate adventure starring Waluigi, and it immediately found an audience on Reddit, with around 65 developers volunteering to help make the game. The focus has shifted slightly since the project's inception — Waluigi became Wally Gladstone to avoid a potential lawsuit, for instance, though he still bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo's character. But aside from the name change, the game's mission remains: prove that Waluigi is popular enough to helm his own title.

And the team behind the game seems confident they'll be able to finish it, as Joshua Cooper, the game's social media manager, told Dorkly: "Unless we end up in court for some reason, we're going to be getting this out."

He's always getting left out of Nintendo games

And we suppose it's good that fans are building their own Waluigi experiences. Because Nintendo passing on a Waluigi-focused game is one thing. But it's another when he's left out of Mario games with huge rosters. And that happens more often than you might think.

For instance, can you believe that Waluigi has never been a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series? It's true. He's cameoed as a challenge reward trophy in a few of the titles, and in some, he's able to be summoned as an assist trophy. But he's never shown up on the character select screen, even as lesser-known characters in the Nintendo universe have managed to snag a spot. Most recently, he was left out of the yet-to-be-released Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch, and Waluigi fans made their displeasure known by harassing series lead Masahiro Sakurai.

Waluigi was also, quite famously, left out of the Mario Kart 7 roster, despite his Waluigi Pinball course making an appearance. Fans responded by modding the game to include him.

Fun fact: Waluigi wasn't created by Nintendo at all

Waluigi feels like a Nintendo-created character, doesn't he? His existence makes sense. Mario and Luigi go together like peanut butter and jelly, so if Wario exists as a rival to Mario, it's only natural that Wario has a partner to rival Luigi. But the truth is, Wario was around long before Waluigi was. And while Wario was designed by Hiroji Kiyotake — who also designed Samus Aran — Nintendo had no hand in creating Waluigi at all.

Instead, we have the team at Camelot to thank for introducing this pointy-mustached villain to the world.

Waluigi first appeared as a necessity. Camelot was working on Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64, and the doubles game mode paired Mario and Luigi together, as one would expect. But Wario had no obvious partner. Camelot decided that Luigi should receive the Wario treatment, and created an enemy that was clearly inspired by Luigi yet had the polar-opposite personality. The result? Waluigi, a character who thinks he's the best and calls everyone else a cheater.

April Fools' Day is also International Waluigi Day

As far as holidays go, most people know what falls on April 1st. It's the day you can't believe anything you read on the internet because everyone is lying to you. It's the holiday that doubles as National Brand Embarrassment Day. But there's another holiday that falls on the first day of April, and unless you're into guys with elf ears and purple ball caps, there's a good chance you've never heard of it.

It's called International Waluigi Day.

How, pray tell, did Waluigi manage to secure his own holiday? It's not entirely clear. But judging by the day it shares with April Fools' Day, it wouldn't be outrageous to assume there's some internet trolling at work. Waluigi fans have been increasingly vocal about their favorite character as of late, so there's no better day to draw attention to him than a day usually reserved for pranks and shenanigans.

Waluigi is the third-most popular character in Mario Tennis Aces

Waluigi, compared to most characters in the Mario universe, is pretty tall. He's got long legs, which means he has a fairly impressive stride. Add to that his long reach, and you have a character who, in the right sport, could prove extremely gifted.

Prepare to have your mind blown: Waluigi is a legitimate force to be reckoned with in Mario Tennis Aces.

Waluigi, along with Bowser Jr., is able to cover the court in ways that don't seem fair. Because he's able to so easily return volleys, he has more time to charge up his shots. And those charged shots are a lot harder for opponents to answer. Kotaku says that players using Waluigi are currently "carving up the leaderboards," which might explain something else.

Shortly after the release of Mario Tennis Aces, Polygon conducted a poll to see which characters in the game were the most popular. Chain Chomp and Yoshi took the top two spots, which likely had a lot to do with them being adorable. But shockingly, Waluigi owned the #3 spot. It was easy to attribute the vote to Waluigi's overzealous fanbase at first, but now that we've seen just how good the character is at the game, perhaps these players aren't Waluigi fans at all.

Maybe they just like winning.