First created to act as the main antagonist for the highly rated Game Boy game Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, Wario was initially invented to act as the total opposite of Mario, hence his, size, attitude and original clothing. As such at first glance, Wario’s name may also simply appear to be nothing more than turning the ‘M’ in ‘Mario’ upside down, and leaving it at that. However, much more thought went into the naming of the garlic consuming and now mad as a hatter character. Something that would not have been lost to the character’s original audience in Japan.
This is because Wario’s name contains not only a nod to Mario’s name, but also to the Japanese word 悪い (pronounced ‘warui’), meaning literally “bad”. Thus creating ‘Wario’, a name that combines both Mario and Bad. The perfect name for a character that was initially created to act as a complete polar opposite to Mario, despite his modern evolution into the motorbike riding and more quirky figure of the WarioWare mini-game series.
Furthermore, this may open a few eyes as to why Luigi’s criminally underused enemy Waluigi was given this name rather than ‘Ruiji’, which would have occurred if they had simply turned Luigi’s ‘L’ upside down. As Waluigi incorporates the same convention as was used when creating Wario, combing 悪い (‘warui’) and Luigi to create ‘Waluigi’.