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Mario, shmario: 2013 is the year of Luigi

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Mario's brother (Credit: Nintendo)

According to the Chinese calendar, 2013 is the year of the snake. But in Kyoto, Japan -- the headquarters of Nintendo -- it's officially the year of Luigi.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made the announcement in a direct broadcast to fans, even going so far as to wear Luigi's trademark hat throughout his segment of the broadcast. (Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, it should be noted, declined to wear the headgear, denying Luigi some Valentine's love.)

Giving Mario's second-banana his time in the spotlight is an unusual move. Though he first appeared in the 1983 Mario Bros. arcade game, Luigi has largely been a side player in the Nintendo world, appearing as a playable character in various titles but only starring in two: 1991's Mario is Missing and 2001's Luigi's Mansion.

He'll kick off his return to the spotlight on March 24 in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, a 3DS game that was announced back in 2011. Mario (and Luigi) creator Shigeru Miyamoto appeared to discuss some of the game's new features, including the game's multiplayer mode, which will support up to four players.

Luigi will also work again with his brother in this summer's Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (even in the year of Luigi, he still plays second fiddle to his brother in titles). The role-playing game explores the sub-conscious of the character and looks to be quite bizarre. A star was shown poking Luigi's nose and pulling his moustache -- and Mario, who's running around the dream world, conquers enemies by raining Luigis down upon them.

There's also Luigi-themed downloadable content coming to New Super Mario Bros. U. Dubbed "New Super Luigi U," the add-on is due later this year, though Nintendo did little more than announce it, offering no details.

Beyond Luigi, the Nintendo crew brought word of several new titles on the way, including 3DS versions of Donkey Kong Country Returns and Animal Crossing.

Meanwhile, the Wii U's content drought is about to come to an end. LEGO City Undercover hits shelves March 18. The next day, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be released, as will Need For Speed: Most Wanted U. And the superhero fighter Injustice: Gods Among Us will land on the system April 16.

The game can’t arrive soon enough. The Wii U has been something of a letdown thus far for Nintendo, who recently slashed sales expectations by nearly 30%.

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