Everyone already knows the tale of how Mario and Luigi got their mustaches, but since the days of “Donkey Kong,” the Mario Bros. whiskers have taken a backseat. However, in the upcoming 3DS title, “Mario & Luigi: Dream Team,” the development team behind the game decided to give Luigi’s mouth brow a bit more screen time. This time around it’s not just to highlight his Italian nose, or because Luigi’s long and luxurious ’stache is a site to behold, it’s actually integral to the game itself.
Since the early 1980s, Mario and Luigi’s mustaches have always been one of their most defining features, but, “Mario & Luigi: Dream Team” will be the first time that players will be able to get up close and personal with either of the brothers’ soup strainers. “Dream Team” is the latest entry into “Mario & Luigi” franchise, making it the fourth title to bear that moniker. If you’re not familiar with the series, the games are a more light-hearted take on the plumbers’ adventures with a turn-based, role playing twist that makes these titles a far cry from their platforming roots.
Since the franchise’s inception, 2003’s “Superstar Saga” on the GameBoy Advance, the series has always placed a certain level of importance on the brothers’ mustaches, but never to the degree that “Dream Team” does. Each of the titles has featured a ’Stache stat that is essentially the equivalent of luck in other RPGs, and in “Mario & Luigi” it determines the characters’ ability to land critical hits in battle. While that stat has been included in all four titles in the series, “Dream Team” is the first to give players the opportunity actually tweak Luigi’s nose neighbor.
In the game, one of the core elements of the story focuses on Luigi’s ability to fall asleep, and Mario’s adventure into his brother’s dreams. As Mario melds with Luigi’s subconscious, he is joined by an altered version of his brother (and possibly the best named Nintendo character ever), Dreamy Luigi. Dreamy Luigi comes with a host of special skills, since he is the manifestation of himself inside of his own dreams (“Inception”-y, I know), and one of those abilities allows his to interact with the environments of his dreams, merging with them, to help his brother get past obstacles in the game. These Luiginary manifestations can be affected by Luigi’s status in the real world, as the boys’ trusty sidekick, Starlow, has been left behind to watch over our drowsy friend. In fact, it’s Starlow that gets to have all of the fun.
Early in the game, the first Luiginary Work that you come across requires Starlow (as the player using the touch screen) to pull on Luigi’s moustache to create tree branches that can be used to fling Mario to higher ground. It turns out that this mechanic was actually included to connect the game’s two unique scenarios. While speaking with the franchise’s developers, AlphaDream Corporation, Mr. Hiroyuki Kubota, Director for “Dream Team” explained that the idea of playing with Luigi’s mustache was to “help bridge the gap between the dream world and reality.” He went on to explain that the idea stemmed from one of the designers playing around with putting a picture of Luigi sleeping on the lower screen, and trying to incorporate a game mechanic to correspond to that. He then mentioned, “it was Mr. Ohtani (“Mario & Luigi”’s Producer at Nintendo Co., Ltd) that took to the idea quickly, and saw that it as a really interesting way to connect the dream world and the real world in the game.”
While the end product of playing with Luigi’s moustache might seem a bit obvious, the origins of it were actually quite nostalgic for Mr. Ohtani who went on to explain how the mechanic connected to his childhood.
“So, I don’t know if you guys do this in the U.S., but in Japan, I remember as a child that we would kind of play pranks on my sleeping dad by messing with his face, touching his whiskers just a little bit to see just how much we could get away with before he started to stir. I thought this was already a little bit of a game, maybe we could transpose this gameplay element into ’Mario & Luigi’ as an interesting experiment, so that’s when I proposed it.”
It’s certainly not just a Japanese thing, since I clearly remember doing that to my father when I was youngster, and I suspect that more than a few of “Mario & Luigi”’s fans likely have very similar memories.
Throughout the rest of the game, as Luigi posses more and more objects, his signature moustache always appears as part of his image. From possessing a set of stars to form a constellation, to overtaking a planet to influence gravity, Luigi’s moustache appears front and center. Even if you don’t get to pull on it for any of the other Luiginary Works, it’s still a pretty big deal, and one epic ’stache.