Review by Writer
"It's about time Luigi got his own game"
Luigi has spent the last five years watching Mario receive all the attention. Sure he appeared in Super Smash Bros. as a hidden character and you could check up on him throughout your adventure in Paper Mario. But Luigi still hasn't had a good game in years to call his own. The one time the plumber with the superior jumping skills was the star of game was in 1993 in Mario Is Missing and his name wasn't even in the title! On top of that, it was a lackluster education game. Thankfully the release of the GameCube has given Luigi a chance to star in his own game again and while it isn't the epic platformer you'd expect from Nintendo (it isn't even a platformer really), Luigi's Mansion offers a unique experience and some good fun to have with your new Nintendo console.
Imagine Luigi's surprise when he receives a letter stating that he's won a mansion. Now imagine his surprise even more when he won the mansion in a contest he didn't even enter. Well, a mansion is a mansion and Luigi being as giddy as ever calls his brother, Mario (the glory hog with the red cap) and tells him to meet him at his new home to celebrate. When Luigi finally arrives at his mansion, Mario is no where to be found. It's not enough that the mansion is creepy on the outside but the second Luigi steps into the place, fear begins to sink in. The timid plumber is then greeted by a ghost and immediately begins to freak out. Suddenly, Professor E. Gadd (get it?) comes to Luigi's rescue and scares the ghost away. Luigi then heads back to the professor's lab to have a chat. The good professor tells Luigi that he did see his brother step foot in the mansion and that the place is crawling with evil supernatural activity. Fearing for his brother's life, Luigi decides to search out the mansion to find out just what in the world happened to Mario. And that's where you come in.
Mansions aren't exactly small building structures and if Luigi is going to find Mario then he's got his work cut out for him. Armed with only a flash light, a vacuum and the Game Boy Horror, you must use all of these items to hunt down the ghouls and find Mario. Your Game Boy Horror acts as a map and shows what areas you've visited and which ones you haven't as well as locked doors. The most important item is the vacuum the Luigi carries on his back. This is your means of capturing ghosts and is the main premise of Luigi's Mansion. Before a ghost can be captured you must first stun it by shinning your flash light on it. Once stunned it's heart will appear as well as a number that displays it's HP. You then use the vacuum to suck up the ghosts but don't think they're going to go willingly. The ghouls will put up a good struggle, often pulling Luigi around a room to avoid being captured. Once the ghosts HP reaches 0, the it will stop struggling and will be sucked into the vacuum. Sounds simple, but not every ghost can be captured in this manner. There are special ghosts that often require hidden techniques to capture. For example, before one ghost can be captured you must hit him with a punching bag. Many of these special ghouls won't even show their heart icon when you shine your flash light on them. You can use your Game Boy Horror to examine their hearts, which often drops clues about how to capture them. Finding out how to capture the special ghosts is all part of the fun of Luigi's Mansion, even if some of the clues are a little too obvious.
The GameCube controller may look like an intimidating device, but looks can be deceiving. Luigi's Mansion works great with Nintendo's new piece of plastic. Using the left analog stick to control Luigi's movements and the right C stick to aim his flashlight/vacuum up and down. The game let's you play on two controller settings, standard and sidestep. Both can be switched by simply pausing the game. The controls for Luigi's Mansion are no where near as intimidating as some previews may have lead you to believe.
Further in the game you'll come across elemental medals which Luigi can use to wield fire, water and ice, which become essential in capturing certain ghosts. There are also the classic Boo ghosts which can be detected using your Game Boy Horror.
Money, gold bars and other valuable items can also be found on your quest through the mansion. No reason why you can't get rich while you're looking for Mario. Perhaps the most important valuable to find would be the keys the ghosts drop after a room has been cleared or a boss ghost has been defeated. Use the Game Boy Horror to see what door your newly acquired key unlocks.
Luigi's Mansion also has it's share of bosses and the means required to defeat them is akin to some of the boss tactics in Zelda games. One boss fight is against a baby ghost who sends flying rocking horses and beach balls at you. Before his heart icon will appear you must use your vacuum to suck up an object and hit him with it. It's this type of gameplay that adds to the unique style of Luigi's Mansion and gives the game even more charm on top of what it already has.
Many gamers are praising Rogue Leader for being the best looking title on the GameCube thus far, but Luigi's Mansion is also a worthy show piece of what Nintendo's 'Cube is capable of. This game easily has the best lighting effects ever seen on the consoles. The plethora of candles that light the mansion and the shadows that reflect off of Luigi's flash light have to be seen to be believed. The way table cloths and curtains flow when you suck them up with your vacuum just adds to this game's graphical brilliance. Oh and when lightning flashes and casts a shadow of everything in a room... wow.
Most of the time, the game plays a haunted musical track throughout the mansion, which isn't bad at all really, but a change of musical pace wouldn't hurt. The music changes for boss fights and when you find Toad or stop by the professor's lab but for the most part, you're stuck with the same spooky song. Luigi's fear is portrayed perfectly thanks to his constant shaking when he's standing still when the lights are out, humming whatever song is playing at the moment, trying to keep himself calm.
Despite the game's light-hearted and goofy take on horror, don't be surprised if you get a few spooks while playing. You could be walking the halls, flash light in hand and a ghosts suddenly appears and freaks you out a bit. It happened to this reviewer on more than one occasion.
Luigi's Mansion certainly isn't the number one reason to get a GameCube, but it sure doesn't hurt that it was a launch title since it offers some nice originality. The game may not be for everyone, but it's a winner in the gameplay field as well as the audio and visuals. The next Mario platformer will be the ticket that Nintendo fanatics have been waiting for but don't automatically turn your nose up at Luigi's Mansion just because it isn't a Super Mario 64. Let's put it this way. If you fancy yourself a Nintendo geek then you need this game in your collection. It's charming gameplay make for some good fun to be had.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/20/01, Updated 11/20/01
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