Review by Christendo

"Does Nintendo's flagship GameCube title cut the mustard? Let me tell you..."

After years of lurking in the shadows of his brother Mario, Luigi finally has his own adventure to embark on. But does Nintendo's flagship GameCube title cut the mustard? Let me tell you...

The first GameCube title to emerge from Nintendo's Entertainment & Analysis Division, is quite unlike any game I've played, or experienced before. Essentially a 3D action/ adventure title, it also throws a bucket-load of head-scratching puzzles into the mix; and on the whole is a tremendously enjoyable game.

Gameplay

Luigi's adventure begins as he makes his way to the main entrance of a moon-lit mansion. Once inside the mansion, you meet up with a strange professor named Dr. Gadd, who equips Luigi with a vacuum cleaner, with 'blow' and 'suck' functions; and a handy little device called the 'Game Boy Horror', which displays a map of the entire mansion, and in some cases using the 'look' function, reveals secrets, enemy weak-points and hidden items. Nice touch, that.

Your objective is to rid Luigi's recently acquired mansion of its ghoulish residents, and hopefully track down his missing brother in the process. With the aid of the vacuum/ flashlight combo, you must first stun lurking phantoms, then finally dispose of them using the vacuum's suck function. Capturing ghosts is rather like fishing. Ghosts will desperately struggle to escape from Luigi's powerful vacuuming force, and in turn you will have to pull rigorously back on the analogue stick until all of the ghost's energy (represented by numbers), has been depleted; thus making for an easy catch. Sounds simple enough; however, some ghosts require a slightly more tactical approach, and just that little extra brain-power. Take the baby ghost's bedroom, for example. You will have to manipulate a certain object in the room (which I won't spoil for you), in order to make him vulnerable to your attack.

There are four levels within the mansion, each requiring you clear a number of rooms, and ultimately face the dreaded boss, before you can advance onto the next area. On entering one of the mansion's many themed rooms, it appears decidedly empty and still as you shine Luigi's torch around the darkness. That is until you begin jostling nearby furniture and light fixtures; it is then that everything springs into life, and the giggling ghosts come out to play. Once a room has been cleared of its ghostly inhabitants, invariably a chest will appear which contains a key to the next room.

Controlling Luigi with the left analogue stick, and aiming his torch or vacuum nozzle with the left 'C' stick, can seem a daunting task at first, but once mastered it's an incredibly intuitive control system. The vacuum's suck and blow functions are activated by pressing the suitably meaty left and right triggers, located on the top of the GameCube controller; both of which are analogue, meaning the harder you press them, the more powerful the vacuum's 'suck' or 'blow' is. Perhaps the greatest aspect of Luigi's Mansion's control system, is that it utilises nearly every single button on the GCN controller; meaning it's a great chance to familiarise yourself with the controller, and hopefully master it in the process.

Possibly the only real downfall to Luigi's Mansion is its dramatically short lifespan. It's possible to complete the game in under eight hours, which to my mind, is a little weak. Even with the inclusion of side-quests - which include collecting money, gems and gold - the game still only clocks-in at around nine or ten hours worth of gameplay; albeit it's surprising to see how much EAD has squeezed in there, considering the entire game is based within four walls of a large house.

Graphics

Graphically, Luigi's Mansion is nothing short of stunning. As Luigi creeps around the mansion he kicks-up dust, creating the most pleasing particle effects. Just about anything, within reason, can be moved, opened or indeed sucked-up the vacuum's nozzle - including posters tablecloths and curtains; which is sure to bring a smile to the face of the most hardened game critic. However, possibly the most astonishing of all effects are the transparencies and real-time lighting. The word awe-inspiring, springs to mind. Possibly the only faults to be found in the visuals are the occasional 'Nintendo 64 quality' textures, which appear flat, blurred and fuzzy; but these are few and far between, and don't affect the overall look of the game.

Sound

The sound department is as equally polished. As you make your way around the mansion, Luigi will hum and whistle the theme tune. But, get this, as he becomes weaker from attacks, his voice will become increasingly shaky and distorted. The same goes for when he cries out for his missing brother, Mario, after a tap of the 'A' button. When Luigi's in good health, he'll boldly call out ''Mario'', however, if he's low on health he'll cry out a distressing, ''Mmmaaarrriiiooo''.

Like all Nintendo titles, Luigi's Mansion's theme is as addictive as ever. You'll find yourself (and it has happened to me on a number of occasions), humming the theme to yourself while at home, school, work, or, quite possibly even during your sleep. Argh, I can't get it out of my head!

Conclusion

Unlike Luigi's vacuum, this game certainly does not 'suck', nor 'blow' for that matter. Yes, it's not Mario 64 2, but we were never expecting it to be. Luigi's Mansion is a formidable game in its own right, and features some of the most damn-right original bosses I have ever seen in a Nintendo title.
Luigi's Mansion is a real gem, and although it may have its niggling faults, my advise to you is to pick it up as soon as you can. 'Nuff said.

Rating: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/25/02, Updated 01/25/02


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