Review by pandaramaster
A great misunderstood gem.
Luigi's Mansion was one of the first launch titles for Nintendo's now deceased but fantastic gaming console, GameCube. It looked great, played surprisingly different, some people were expecting a platformer of some description and is an all round charming little title that owners of the GameCube must simply own.
Luigi, the less famous brother of Mario, has won a mansion. Trouble is, he doesn't remember entering a competition to win a mansion. He tells Mario and decides to meet Mario at the mansion. Mario arrives first and he inexplicably disappears. When Luigi arrives at the "picturesque" mansion, with ravens crowing, thunder clapping and so forth - he bravely enters the mansion. Those who know the personality of Luigi will regard him as a sort of coward. With his trusty torch a.k.a flashlight he walks around the main hallway and climbs up the stairs, suitably caked in dust. He approaches the double doors on the landing (with a hilarious cut scene of Luigi's hand trembling with fear as he turns the door knob) and enters through. He tiptoes around the room, shaking with fright. THEN A GHOST POPS OUT IN FRONT OF HIM! Luigi screams for his dear life, but then a little zany professor jumps from where he was watching, and with a flick of his special Hoover attempts to suck the ghost up. But because of his stature and age he is unable to do it. He suggests they make a hasty retreat to his shack, sitting just outside the entrance on mansion. The professor introduces himself as Professor E. Gadd, explains the mysteries of the mansion and saw someone in a similar outfit to Luigi enter the mansion earlier on. Gadd suggests to Luigi to use his ghost capturing Hoover, aptly named Poltergust 3000, to capture all the ghosts and to rescue Mario. How's that for a bit of fried gold?
There's no jump button in Luigi's Mansion. Yes, completely off track with that statement but let me explain. This game is in no way a platformer. It was never meant to be. This is a radical departure from what you normally expect from a "traditional Mario" game. There's no revolutionary camera system (the camera is pretty much stuck on a side ways view), there's no outrageous acrobatic move list to master and there's certainly no head stomping to be had. Right, now that's out the way let me explain the game. The game plays in similar fashion to a 3-D shooter, sort of. You have one control stick to move Luigi round (forwards, backwards and strafe) and the yellow C-Stick is to control the movement of his torch or Hoover nozzle. You can have a control set up to make it simpler, but the game plays a lot better when you have the standard default setup. It's not that there's anything wrong with the simpler set up, it's just that you'll find it harder to suck up more than one ghost, thus not be able to rack up the big points. The Right shoulder button sucks up and the Left shoulder button blows. Both of these shoulder buttons are pressure sensitive, so if you lightly press it you'll use less power.
Exploration is handled quite nicely though the game is rather linear. It's accessible, painless and is generally fun exploring the massive mansion. Though it is linear, you'll never get lost and you always know where to go next thanks to the brilliantly implemented Game Boy Horror. The Game Boy Horror is a tongue in cheek homage to the Game Boy Color and acts as both map and radar for detecting the Boos' presence, oh and as a communication device. It is also the game's designated viewfinder allowing you to view the mansion in a first person perspective. This is great because sometimes you need to look at things that you wouldn't normally see, such as the wall where the camera looks through. It also gives you hints on how to capture the bosses as well.
Capturing is the quintessential element of this game, and fortunately it's great fun:) It can be a bit tricky at first, but the core mechanics is reminiscent of fishing. You have to pull rapidly in the opposite direction of the ghost in order to weaken him quicker before sucking him up. The only problems I had encountered are sometimes the furniture gets in you way, a lot. You also lose quite a bit of health and cash if you get pushed away from the furniture as you're battling the ghosts. It can be a bit annoying and feels a little unfair, however, you'll quickly overcome this and it'll be less of a problem.
However great the hoovering is, it can't help but fall into the pit of repetition. To spice things up a bit, you have access to some elemental powers such as fire, water and ice. You have to use these powers to conquer some ghosts, bosses and environmental barriers. It's not a massive departure from the core mechanics, but it breaks the pace up a little. Also, the bosses all come with a puzzle to them. You have to solve these puzzles in order to see their hearts so you can suck them up. There's also some mansion puzzles to solve. They're quite easy to solve with one or two minor exceptions and again, breaks the pace up quite nicely.
The game relies heavily on a massive abundance of collecting items, namely cash and keys. There's also 50 Boos to capture as well, and these are quite challenging to find and capture as many will escape into the many rooms of the mansion.
Graphically, Luigi's Mansion is a good-looking beast. Everything is superbly animated but the award for best attention to detail is Luigi. Luigi is superbly animated, he just screams with life and personality. Nintendo have really captured Luigi's cowardice and I sometimes feel sorry for the little guy. From being squashed by opening fake doors to his nose bobbing up and down from walking. It's top quality all the way through, not just for Luigi though, but for all the creepy ghouls and ghosts. There are some spectacular effects thrown in as well such as dust being captured in the ray of the light to the transparency of the ghosts to the superb animation of cloths. The lighting is also handled effectively and creates an atmosphere of lighthearted horror. Even the mansion shows wondrous variety within its walls. Each room is strikingly different to one another. The only blemish is when you use the Game Boy Horror. It's when you look in first person you can see the muddy textures on the walls and furniture, but that's it really.
I personally love the sound in Luigi's Mansion. From the great catchy theme tune that you hear in different guises (such as Luigi whistling it, humming it with a comedic fright and to the Game Boy Horror ring tone of sorts) it's supremely catchy and highly memorable. The battle music is good as well, if on the little quiet side. Luigi is once again voiced by Charles Martinet (Mario veteran voice actor) and is not annoying when you listen to Luigi's catchphrases. It's great listening to Luigi speak because of Charles Martinet deliverance, it's so funny listening to Luigi mumbling "Mario" as he travels the mansion. The sound effects are great as well, from Luigi's feet pitter-pattering across the floor to the ghosts laughing and then literally popping when they disappear. The Poltergust 3000 is highly generic though, but how many Hoovers do you know of that sound different from one another? Perhaps the only real annoyance is Professor Gadd's high-pitched mumbling, but somehow it just fits he's personality. But just because it fits he's character, doesn't mean it's not annoying.
Now we come to the game's major flaw. It's stupendously short. In fact, it's possible to complete this game in less than 10 hours. Aside from capturing all the Boos and getting as much cash as possible to improve your end game rank there's nothing really to back to. Which is a shame because if they worked on the longevity a bit more and had just a bit more to unlock it could have been a great contender!
Luigi's Mansion for the GameCube is a great title to own for the machine. It may not revolutionise anything but that was never its purpose. This game is about having fun and the game excels in that in every way possible. It may lack the classic status of other previous Mario related games, but who really cares? This game is fun from start to finish, has it's own distinct personality and yes, finally proves that Luigi can hold his own when he is the hero. A great purchase for the Gamecube, buy it!
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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