Review by EJRICH

"You know, this is why I don't trust those stupid game shows...."

You know, this is why I never trust those stupid game shows. There's always something that they keenly leave out as they are handing you the prize. A legal notice that they're taking your house in exchange. A note stating that the prize money is simply a loan. And my personal favorite, the all too popular disclaimer. Luigi has unfortunately gotten himself entangled in one of these wicked shows, winning a beautiful mansion filled to the brim with a boatload of gorgeous money. It looks like Nintendo is finally starting to give Luigi the luxury treatment he rightfully deserves.

Too bad they'd rather see Luigi smashed before giving him any kind of enjoyment.

As the keys to this luxurious mansion were handed over to Luigi, the game show hosts forgot to mention an important fact – bunches of ghosts haunt the house. These maniacal little fiends don't like their real estate being intruded upon by some plumber, either, so they take the conventional way out and do what they do best – scare. As our little wimp runs out of the house screaming upon meeting a couple of these ghouls, he comes across an old kook who offers him a way to rid himself of this problem. A vacuum cleaner hose. That's right, a vacuum cleaner hose. This little piece of machinery isn't you average cleaner, however. It's a ghost-sucking ghoul-trapping bag that allows our plumber to literally take out the trash and do a little bit of clean up at the same time. You can't expect haunted mansions to be dust free, now can you?

Dust or no dust, you can't expect these ghosts to go down quietly (there's just something about being shoved into a vacuum cleaner bag that doesn't sound so appealing to the ear. I wonder why…). When Luigi encounters a ghost (usually by way of them popping up out of nowhere), the player has two options: run and hopefully get away, or begin the long process of trying to suck it into the bag. The procedure starts by having to blast the ghost with the glare of Luigi's flashlight – a tough feat considering most of the time they're moving around pretty swiftly. After freezing it with the light, the fun starts. Like trying to reel a fish in, Luigi can literally snag the ghost in with the air funnel that the vacuum creates. They won't go easily, though. In fact, they'll literally drag Luigi around for a bit while, leaving in the poor plumber's way an arrangement of evil obstacles that range from bombs to fire balls while the vacuum slowly chips away at the ghoul's life bar. When you've finally snagged it, congrats, you've just earned a load of nothing.

While the incentive to keep killing the ghosts is pretty low (most of the time it's just a bit of health or cash as a reward), the real point of the whole endeavor is to clear the way for you to explore more of the mansion. Scattered across the manor are keys that you'll have to get if you want to progress further into the game. One problem though – they're not just sitting out in the open for you walk over to and collect. Nintendo decided that they wanted you to work a bit for them. At the end of every area of the mansion a certain ghost resides that's obviously stronger than the rest. These are the boss ghosts. In their possession is a special item, often either an ability or a key. You can't expect them to just hand it to you, though, right? Of course not. That means that they're going to fight for it, and boy, do they fight. Some battles have Luigi in the confining rooms of the mansion, others do my personal favorite and turn him into a devil babies' chew toy. If you can manage to find the ghost's weakness (most of the time they're the most random things you'll ever want to think of >_>), then a quick sendoff to perpetuity is imminent (funnily enough, once you defeat them you're required to go and have the old kook turn them into paintings for your gloating pleasure).

Fighting ghosts is fun – we all know it – but if that were all that there was to do in Luigi's Mansion, then Nintendo would be in a bit of a jam. That's why Nintendo decided to implement a rather large mansion for the player to reek havoc in. Although some people may bash it as a cheap copy of Resident Evil (which is beyond me considering the two games fall into two very different genres), Luigi's Mansion brings a certain glimmer of its own by using a pseudo-horror set up that has Luigi literally running his wimpy head off through a densely packed network of corridors. Just for our viewing pleasure, Nintendo had some ghosts popping up out of nowhere to compliment the scene. You shouldn't get scared of this game. Instead, you should be laughing your head off.

Moments like that aside, some other things may persuade a player to pick Luigi's Mansion up include an excellent graphical set-up and a great musical score. Making use of good lighting techniques, Nintendo decided to create an off-shoot glare that literally makes you think something's wrong. If you think something's wrong, then you're obviously going to feel like something's wrong. As you could probably guess, this allowed Nintendo to create an atmosphere that literally has the player on edge at all times – something that was needed to get the game off. Add that to the fact that the game actually looks realistic, and the opportune environment for a good scare is put into place. Of course, a good musical scale only helps this out, which was exactly what Nintendo decided to use. Putting in a track similar to something you'd hear out of a good detective movie, the player is literally made to feel like they are walking on egg shells. Funny part is as soon as a certain ghost pops up, a big orchestrated jump takes place making the moment literally shocking if you're not aware of what's happening (Resident Evil, to the best of my knowledge at least, will never give you a dull moment to allow this to happen. Guess it's a tradeoff).

As much as I'd like to leave it on a good note, there are a couple of problems in Luigi's Mansion that need to be addressed. For one, the ghost sucking process is absolutely atrocious after you've done it 50 something times. Sure, it's fun the first couple of times, but after that, the player is thrown out to dry unless you're the compulsive type who'll live with it. Another potential problem may be the sheer lack of freedom that the game provides. Yeah, you can go ahead and explore previous areas that were given to you, but why? Nintendo gives the player absolutely no reason whatsoever to do so unless you really want cash. Keys are needed to advance further, which require you to completely complete the previous area. Something else that may bother people would be the hand holding that Luigi's Mansion provides – you'll essentially never be lost with all the tips they give you. Some people may object by stating that the game gives plenty of sections which require the player to look around for answers, but why would they even need to look in the first place if they were wise enough to do it the first time around. How stupid is that?

Fortunately, these problems can almost be forgotten once you've gotten yourself wrapped up in Nintendo's horror classic. Although it may not provide the zombie gut bashing that Resident Evil fans are constantly clamoring for, Nintendo did a fine job of finally making a kid friendly game of terror that brings it home with solid graphics, good music, and an interesting concept. Too bad Luigi had to be the scapegoat – down with Mario!

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/29/07, Updated 12/23/09

Game Release: Luigi's Mansion (US, 11/17/01)

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