You know it’s a tough day when video game characters make headlines on BBC News. Last week, Nintendo unceremoniously killed off one of its mascot characters in an act of blood-curdling brutality. Luigi the Italian plumber stared into the jaws of Death – literally – as he was dealt a weighty blow by one of Castlevania‘s most formidable villains. So weighty, in fact, that his soul was instantly separated from his body. Youch. Have fun in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, kids!
Luigi has been a staple of the Mario franchise since 1983’s Mario Bros, so he has in fact been making headlines since before I was even born. And not that I would ever wish death upon anyone – not least Luigi, ghost hunter extraordinaire – they do say that dying is a good career move, and if Nintendo was hoping to get some exposure for a 35 year old video game character… Well, they certainly got it.
So when it comes to the question of why Luigi had to die, “headlines” is an answer that is succinct and to-the-point. (Frustratingly, I seem to remember a relatively muted response to the killing of Lara Croft in 1999. Bah.) And whilst it may seem like a strange creative choice for a franchise with a large pre-teen player base, we have to remember that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is basically a game about bludgeoning your favourite characters with fists, fire and fury, so the murder of a beloved plumber is arguably “on brand.”
However, if we really want to venture down the rabbit hole, there could be a more game-specific reason for Luigi’s bump-off. If you look closely at the Ultimate Direct video (around the 24 minute mark) you will see that one of the game’s play modes has been discretely blurred out – a key feature that Nintendo is not yet ready to talk about. Fingers crossed for a Shadow of Memories cross-over.
I say “rabbit hole” because, inevitably, the internet has been wildly speculating as to what could be behind this pixelated facade. In fact one Twitter user by the name of @noctulescent has taken it beyond speculation into Photoshop science and has actually resolved to crack Nintendo’s code. I would have thought this impossible, but apparently @noctulescent has arrived at the word “Spirits” by exploiting untouched pixels at the edge of the video frame. Nice. Check out the full tweet thread for a complete breakdown of what this means…
And if you’re curious as to how the mode’s symbol could appear in the new game, Twitter user @Nintendrew_ has applied a similar technique to extract the hidden information…
Whilst some of this may sound like pseudo-science – and at best speculation – we have to remember that the internet is a very clever place, and if the combined brains of @notulescent and @Nintendrew_ have actually managed to solve this Smash Bros. mystery, then the dev team at Nintendo must already be building their roster for a death match. NDA Final Smash, anyone?
And if there is in fact some kind of ‘ghost’ mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it would certainly explain why Luigi would need to be, cough, spirited away. In which case, can we expect Mario, Yoshi, and every other lovable character to kiss the scythe of Castlevania’s Death? It could be a blood bath! Unless of course these characters are already dead when the game begins, and part of the unlocking process is to guide their spirits back from The Great Beyond? I don’t know.
What do you think the hidden mode in the next Smash Bros game could be? Are you convinced by the deductions from Twitter? Are you in need of therapy after witnessing the brutal murder of Luigi?? Leave your thoughts below!
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[…] the worst kept secret in the video game industry, as some canny viewers had already worked out that such a mode was incoming. Anyway, I must confess that I was still a little puzzled after Nintendo’s, uhh, […]