Review by Slartibartfast

"A very good game but not a Nintendo Classic"



LUIGIS MANSION

I've talked in detail about this game before..and I can see it seems to be pretty much splitting opinion. The reason for that is that IMHO it is not a CLASSIC Nintendo game. Does that make it a bad game....no. It's just when people have expectations, and they're not met...well, they are sometimes dissappointed.

So, it's not a bad game. In fact, it's a very good game. Here is the breakdown...

GRAPHICS:
It looks great, the lighting and particle effects are truly spectacular. The animation is top drawer. It really is a beautiful game to watch someone play. The effects are done so well, that after a short time you stop really noticing them. I guess that is because visually it all gels together really well. People are bemoaning the textures and polygon count on the backgrounds..and while it is true that occasionally you see a blurry texture the overall look remains very crisp and tight. And remember folks...there is NO loading time. You can stroll through the mansion and it feels identical to a cartridge game (at first I thought the door opening animations were hiding loading..but you can skip them with a tap of the button). So, visually it's a stunner..but with the odd imperfection. Oh, and the view through the Gameboy Horror sucks..really doesn't look too good at all, but you rarely use this option. Beautiful to look at, and really shows off some cool new tricks that the Gamecube has. And let's not even mention the animation of tablecloths, fabric, curtains etc. Oh, I just mentioned it...and it is breathtaking. Believe me when you get this game you will spend much of your initial time with it just wafting the vacuum cleaner over fabrics being hypnotised by how they look. Even now I still can't walk through an (already cleared) room without vacuuming any table cloth in sight. Mmmmmm....clothalicious.

SOUND:
Classy. From the opening Nintendo logo (where a deep booming voice says the word NINTENDO...not what you expect at all) to Luigis humming...it all works really well. Has a lot of bass, so those with meaty sound systems are in for a treat, and the sample rate sounds very high to me. It really does have pretty much just one theme, the genius is in how they use the one tune but it never seems to become boring or repetitive..you'll understand what I mean once you play it. There are other bits of music though, such as when you are catching ghosts, boss fights, special areas etc. All of the sound effects are top quality and many of them are most amusing, my favourite being the sucking sound just as the ghost goes into your Vacuum. The flaws...why such a limited use of voices? The Professor talks in a language of his own straight out of Star Wars (I could listen to him talk all day), but most of the other characters are limited to one or two samples (Toad for example). I thought this was a limitiation of the cartridge format...there isn't a lot of text in the game so it would have been nice to have speech throughout. Oh well, I'm nit-picking I guess (and besides I wouldn't have been able to understand Japanese speech!!). Very nice surround effects too, really adds to the atmosphere when you hear thunder coming from behind you (if you have a surround sound set-up that is). Very active for a pro-logic signal. And along with the other two launch games really seems to make my speakers sing.

GAMEPLAY:
To me, this is the most important area. It is fun, to be sure. In fact I have no complaints in terms of the fun factor. The problems I have is that the majority of the puzzles are too easy (and I have no understanding of Japanese, so expect them to be even easier in English). And in most cases once you have solved the puzzle, the actual act of vacuuming the ghost up is relatively simple. However, the puzzles are very varied and always bring a smile to your face when completed. Control does take some getting used to, but it works very well with practice and it is a blast...especially once you get good at it and start sucking in three ghosts at a time etc.

But that is where the problem lies. For me, once I had mastered the control the game had ended. Took me about 12 hours to complete. Now to me I'm not one of those people that demands 40 hours out of a game. If a game gives me 5 hours, but it's brilliant, well I'd rather have that. So I am not bemoaning how short it is...just that by the time I got good at it..there was nothing else to do. And I really wanted to take on some more vicious and numerous ghosts.

Now you do collect money, gems etc but from what I gather the only reward for collecting more of these on repeated play is achieving a better grade at the end. Now I will be playing through the game again in '2nd Mansion Mode' (this seems just like the first so far but with a more powerful Vaccuum) as there are lots of really cool things you only get to see once...and I want to see them again. But it would have been nice to open up a new area or something fun by completing the game with a better score. If in the future someone proves this to be true by opening up a new area then I will stand corrected (and I'll be frantically honing my skills to ensure that I unlock it).

So, overall in gameplay terms...it has a really good feel, confusing at first but (almost) second nature when mastered. And though relatively short no two rooms look the same, and there is bag loads of variety (22 character ghosts, boss ghosts, normal ghosts, each room looking very unique). I would like to have seen the fire, ice and water tools for the vacuum used a bit more. It is a fun experience though that is for sure.

OVERALL

Well this is the stage where I pretty much sum up what I've already said for those that couldn't be bothered to read all of it

LM is a high quality game. Quality in terms of looks and sound. Very polished all round. It really feels like an interactive cartoon world. And at the moment when friends come to the house and ask what that little purple box is sitting in my lounge (well, if they don't ask I force them to see it anyway), LM is the game to pop in and watch them smile and 'ohhh and ahhh'.

However, you can't help but feel that this is not Nintendo at their very best (more importantly, not Miyamoto at his very best). A little too easy for my tastes..especially the middle part of the game where I literally ran from room to room solving puzzles very quickly. Still it gets a little trickier towards the end and did have me cursing a few times (which is a good thing). Saying that, Nintendo 'not at their very best' is still excellent by almost any other companies standard. And you can't help but be charmed by it (and by Luigis infectious humming...I can't get that darn tune out of my head at nights).

So, a really fun title, that is a joy to play only let down by a (relative) lack of depth and replay value.

Your friend and mine..

Slartibartfast

PS Oh, and for those of you who just NEED scores for games...I don't really like scoring stuff, but if I HAD to score it would be as follows

Graphics 9.5
Sound 9.5
Gameplay 8.5
Lastability 7 (higher if you count all the times you use it to show off your lovely new Gamecube)
Overall 8.5


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/27/01, Updated 09/27/01


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