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The Real Reason You Couldn't Play As Luigi In Super Mario 64

There are two kinds of Super Mario games: those with Luigi and those without. The name is usually a litmus test. Is the word "Bros." after "Mario," and/or is it a spinoff like Mario Kart? If yes, Luigi is probably in the game. If no, then Luigi probably isn't. Exceptions certainly exist (e.g., Super Mario Odyssey), and Super Mario 64 both does and does not fall into that category.


The original Super Mario 64 stars Mario. Meanwhile, the Nintendo DS remake, Super Mario 64 DS, includes Luigi, Yoshi, and Wario as playable characters. Though many assumed this game was Luigi's first 64-bit collectathon rodeo, rumors spread he was always meant to be controllable in Super Mario 64, thanks in no small part to a cryptic plaque that reads (in extremely blurry text) "L is real 2401".

Over 20 years later — and during Mario's 35th anniversary, no less — confirmation finally surfaced that the rumors were true. Luigi was originally supposed to be playable in Super Mario 64. But why was Luigi cut from the game? If you're ready to find out the truth behind Luigi's canceled 64-bit adventure, let's a-go.


The Nintendo 64 just didn't have enough memory

In July 2020, an alleged "gigaleak" of Nintendo prototypes and source code blossomed on the internet. Game sprites that supposedly never made the final cut, early versions of game levels, and much more leaked onto online servers. However, the lean, mean, green cream of the crop was reportedly long lost Super Mario 64 "Luigi" files. A dedicated team of fans stitched the files together — which contain textures, models, and other assets — and recreated Luigi as he would have appeared in the game. Of course, this raised the question of what prevented his inclusion in the first place. The answer lies in the past — specifically 1996.


According to an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto — translated by shmuplationsSuper Mario 64 was made with the brothers in mind. Luigi was supposed to do everything Mario could do, but the game couldn't handle two playable characters. Luigi was in Super Mario 64 "until February," and was removed because of "memory issues." However, the developers were dedicated to transforming Super Mario 64 into Super Mario Bros. 64. They tried to create a minigame where players could control Mario and Luigi, but it was scrapped under the assumption most players wouldn't have enough controllers.

Two Mario brothers were one brother too many for the Nintendo 64.