Nintendo announcing the Year of Luigi has got me thinking. In the world of video game siblings, Luigi has got it pretty good. Sure, he almost always gets second billing despite having the exact same abilities as Mario, but that isn't enough for the Mushroom Kingdom or the world. He's never good enough. No wonder he's a fraidy cat. It's probably some kind of complex. But when you compare him to the other video game brothers and sisters of the world? He's living like a king.
I'll start with the first series I started thinking about when I was pondering heroes' siblings--Dragon Age. You do not want to be brother or sister to the chosen one in this game, let me tell you. In Dragon Age: Origins, depending on your origin story, your brother or sister is probably dead. In Dragon Age 2, you watch as either your brother or sister is killed, and your remaining sibling probably ends up dead or, even worse, a Grey Warden. The life of a Grey Warden is definitely nightmare material. (If I saw a Childer? That'd be it for me. I'm out.)
Of course, Dragon Age party members' families aren't immune either. Let's go through a brief list. Alistair? His brother’s dead. Morrigan? Seems like her mother stole all her sisters' bodies. Varric? His brother went crazy, then died. Fenris? He gave his freedom and memory for his sister and their mother, and she turned his master onto her tale and maybe (probably) ended up dead because of it. Sebastian? His brothers were murdered. Good luck on maintaining a happy family if you end up in a BioWare game.
This isn't just a recent development, either. Other series have their share of familial woe and heartache. Check Final Fantasy. Twin brothers Edgar and Sabin seem happy, but Edgar gave up his freedom and dreams so Sabin could be free to pursue his. It worked out pretty well for him in the end, but still. Lena and Faris, however, would never have known they were siblings if the events of Final Fantasy V hadn't happened. And you have to feel bad for the heroes of Final Fantasy VIII--they're all foster brothers and sisters, but Guardian Forces wiped out their memories and only one of them actually remembers their shared past.
Let's step away from RPGs for a moment, since practically every hero or heroine is often an orphan due to unfortunate circumstances. If any game genre proves how horrible it must be to have a brother or sister in the game world, it's fighting games. Just look at how many siblings end up fighting it out. The first one that comes to mind is BlazBlue, which has plenty of weird sibling dynamics starring Ragna, Jin, and some other assorted characters that are somehow directly or loosely tied to the two. I suppose Jin may have handled it a bit better had he not been batspit crazy and known what his future held, but alas, it was not to be.
I'd get into other fighting game sibling relationships, but I'd be here all day if I did. I mean, think about all those troubled siblings: Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Darkstalkers (technically, if you consider the Morrigan/Lilith relationship). BlazBlue is only among the most recent to highlight that it's never easy when two siblings have to attempt to share the spotlight in a game. One usually gets it good and is the star, and the rest have to make due or fight for any scrap of attention they can get.
Name a genre and you'll see evidence that life as a sibling to a hero sucks. Fatal Frame does it for horror games, as any brother or sister of the holder of the Camera Obscura is screwed. Looking at adventure games? The Fey sisters of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney have you covered. The only genre I'm having trouble with is racing games. I keep wanting to say Speed Racer, but that's a pretty big stretch.
All these years, we've been championing equality in games. What we really should have been doing is begging for a game where everybody has a happy home life. I'd say an RPG needs this in particular, as that genre is due for an adventure where the hero lives a totally happy home life with brothers and sisters that are just as strong and talented as he or she is.
As for Luigi, if that character could thank his lucky stars, he should. In the world of video game siblings, he's got it good!