|First appearance||Super Mario Bros. (1985)|
|Voiced by||Dex Manley (Mario Super Sluggers)
Jeff Minnerly (Mario Party 9)
Junko Hori (Super Mario Brothers: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!)
Lakitu, known in Japan as Jugem (ジュゲム Jugemu), is a video game creature in the Mario franchise. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, it first appeared in the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game Super Mario Bros., where it dropped enemies called Spinies on the stage. It has a striped green shell, wears aviator goggles, and rides around in a smiling cloud. It has since appeared in several main Mario titles since, as well as Mario spin-off titles, notably the Mario Kart series where it acts as the referee and an unlockable playable character in Mario Kart 7. He has appeared in non-Mario titles, including the Super Smash Bros. series, specifically Super Smash Bros. Brawl. His most recent appearance in the Mario series was in New Super Mario Bros. U.
Since appearing in Super Mario Bros., Lakitu has received somewhat positive reception. It has appeared in the form of several kinds of merchandise, including on t-shirts, stickers, and a dry erase board. While he has been regarded as one of the best Mario villains by GameDaily, he has been decried by several editors for being a troublesome enemy, including 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish and G4TV editor Andrew Pfister.
Concept and description
Lakitu is a Koopa who rides in a cloud and drops creatures called Spinies on the ground. It has a green turtle shell and yellow skin like most Koopas, but is differentiated by a thick pair of glasses. Its cloud vehicle has a smiling face on it. Lakitus come in several varieties as well. Some Lakitus can be seen coming out of pipes, while others use a fishing pole for a variety of things, such as holding a 1-Up Mushroom or a traffic light. An early variation of the Lakitu features Lakitu riding a plane. Lakitus frequently also utilize the ability to produce electricity. A variation of the Lakitu is the Fishin' Boo, a ghost that rides a cloud. Mario series creator Shigeru Miyamoto commented that Lakitu was the game character who represented him best. He described Lakitu as "very free, floating in the air, going anywhere. And that's me, that is." The Spinies that it drops are typically red turtles with spikes on their backs that hatch from "Spiny Eggs."
Lakitu first appeared in Super Mario Bros. for the NES, where it appears as an enemy that drops Spiny Eggs, which hatch into Spinies when they hit the ground, on the player-characters. While it did not make an appearance in the western Super Mario Bros. 2, he did appear in the third game Super Mario Bros. 3, besides being an enemy, its cloud appears as an item called "Jugem's Cloud" that the player-character can use to skip levels. An enemy bearing a resemblance to Lakitu called Roketon appears in Super Mario Land for the Game Boy, where it uses a plane. In Super Mario World for the Super NES, its cloud can be stolen by the player-character and used as a flying vehicle for a period of time. Lakitu made an appearance in Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2, where it had several variations, including the first occurrence of an electricity-producing Lakitu. Super Mario 64 features two characters called the "Lakitu Bros." in a friendly capacity, where they act as the cameramen for the player to control during Mario's adventure. However, Lakitus appear as enemies as well. It would not appear in a primary Mario title afterward until New Super Mario Bros., which featured a boss encounter with a Lakitu called "Lakithunder." Lakitu also appeared in his very own minigame called "Lakitu Launch," where players throw Spiny Shells at the baskets Lakitu is holding. It appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii in roughly the same capacity as in New Super Mario Bros. Most recently, it appeared in Super Mario Galaxy 2, with a boss encounter called "Giga Lakitu." He also appeared in New Super Mario Bros. U and its DLC New Super Luigi U.
Lakitu has a prominent role in the Mario Kart series since its debut in Super Mario Kart. In addition to his appearance in Mario Kart 7 as an unlockable playable driver, he is a prominent non-playable character as the referee, where he is holding the traffic lights hanging on a fishing pole to signal the start of the race for the characters, tells them when the next lap will begin and taking racers back on course in case they fall off. This is also true for other games, where it acts in various assistant roles, such as an umpire in the Mario Baseball games, a ball catcher in the Mario Golf games, a referee in all four Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games installments and an official in the Mario Tennis games. He also starts every match in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and Mario Sports Mix. He also acts as the cameraman in Super Mario 64 and its DS counterpart. Each game in the Mario role-playing games has featured a Lakitu, starting with Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. A playable Lakitu appears in Paper Mario called Lakilester. While he acts antagonistically towards Mario, it eventually joins him after his girlfriend Lakilulu convinces him. The playable Lakitu in Mario Kart 7 has a red shell, though the differences between red and green shelled Lakitus are unknown. It appeared in the Wii video game Super Smash Bros. Brawl as an Assist Trophy. It also appeared in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap as an enemy. In the Mario Party franchise, he appears in various minigames and in Mario Party Advance, he is the referee with his whistle-blowing cloud.
In other media
Lakitu has appeared several times in other media. The Nintendo DSi app "DSi Sound" featured a Mario theme that had Lakitu producing coins in it while playing a song. It originally appeared in the anime movie Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! as an antagonist. It again appeared in the episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! called "Mario and the Red Baron Koopa," where its appearance differs from its traditional appearance, featuring green skin and red sunglasses. It also appears in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 in the episode "Life's Ruff." It has appeared in several comics, such as the Nintendo Comics System issue "Cloud Burst," the Club Nintendo issue "Mario will hoch hinaus," and in the Super Mario Adventures comic.
Since appearing in Super Mario Bros., Lakitu has received positive reception. It has appeared in the form of several kinds of merchandise, including on t-shirts, stickers, and a dry erase board. 1UP.com described Lakitu as a "series mainstay." Official Nintendo Magazine editor Chris Scullion listed Lakitu as one of the unsung Nintendo heroes, commenting that while it, like Birdo, does get some recognition, it is less so than other enemies such as the Goomba and the Koopa Troopa. GameDaily listed Lakitu as the sixth best Mario enemy, describing him as "cute" and "friendly," yet also "a pain" for players to beat. In discussing an independent video game called Explodemon, video game developer Jonathan Biddle called the "Bomber" enemy from Explodemon a rip-off of Lakitu. GameSpy editor Jonti Davies made a comparison between Telly Vision from Chibi-Robo!, who acts as a flying companion to the protagonist. In his review of the Virtual Console re-release of Super Mario Bros., GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann stated that Lakitus "are still awesome." G4TV editor Yodapollo listed Lakitu's first appearance as one of the "Epic Fail Videogame Levels," commenting that he "cannot come up with a single other videogame character who comes close to being half as annoying as Lakitu." G4TV editor Andrew Pfister called Lakitu's first appearance as one of the memorable moments of Super Mario Bros. He also referenced its appearance in one of the later levels as being a difficult encounter. In his retrospective of Super Mario Bros. 2, 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish commented that after "being harrassed [sic] endlessly by that jackass Lakitu, it was a relief to be able to hop onto Pidgit's magic carpet and swipe it right out from under his feet."
In discussing the challenges of Super Mario Bros., 1UP.com stated that the Spinies were never a "welcome sight," due to appearing in "infinite numbers courtesy of that rat bastard Lakitu, a cowardly bespectacled turtle who hovered on a cloud overhead tossing Spiny eggs at Mario." In criticizing some of the game design choices in Yoshi's Island DS, NGamer criticized an appearance by Lakitu, where when it knocks Baby Mario off of Yoshi, players have to jump into Lakitu to get him back, thereby losing Baby Mario again. UGO Networks editor Chris Littler listed having to be rescued by Lakitu after falling off the track in Super Mario Kart as one of the top 50 worst ways to die in a video game. Shack News praised the pixel art used in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Lakitu. In discussing the quality of the Hammer Bros., CNET editor Nate Lanxon commented that "when preparing defenses for your forts of the future, you can take your grumpy little mushroom things and Lakitu's lame cloud," showing preference to Hammer Bros. Editor Scott Jones listed Lakitu and its cloud as an uncomfortable pairing, joking that "if that cloud ever gets free of Lakitu, it will need many years of therapy just to feel like a normal cloud again." The parody film There Will Be Brawl features an "Ira Glass-esque" Lakitu, resembling a human more than a turtle.
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