By the time Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon came out in 2013, the strangeness of focusing an entire game on Mario’s overlooked sibling sidekick was long forgotten. Yet back in 2001, just before the Gamecube’s launch, Luigi had barely developed from his origin as a pixel-swapped Mario for a second player. Sure, you were probably familiar with his lazy, leg-flailing high jumps in Super Mario Bros 2. Maybe you had the misfortune to experience him in the question-and-answer misery of Mario Is Missing. But he hadn’t even landed a cameo in Super Mario 64, and in Yoshi’s Island, he was just a green baby.
Then came Luigi’s Mansion, and how fitting that it was in part a deconstruction of how his was a life lived in the shadow of his superstar brother. Thrust reluctantly into the role of hero, Luigi’s ghostbusting powers are entirely granted by the Poltergust 3000 strapped to his back. He can’t even jump: when you press the A button, he quaveringly calls for Mario. It forges Luigi a full identity as that distant second fiddle, a good joke told many times in the years to follow, from the Mario & Luigi RPG series to Super Mario Galaxy, and enough to power an unironic year of celebration in 2013 so heady that it extended into the following year.