Review by Tenshi No Shi

"I ain't 'fraid no ghosts!"

How could the GameCube launch without a Mario title? It's almost unheard of! NES had Super Mario Bros., Super NES had Super Mario World, Gameboy had Super Mario Land, N64 had Super Mario 64 and Gameboy Advance had Super Mario Advance. Instead, Luigi takes the spotlight (Mario is off working on Mario Sunshine, making only the briefest of appearances here) with a unique entry in Nintendo's library of games.

Luigi won a mansion in a contest he didn't enter, but is curious nonetheless. He sets off, armed with only a map and flashlight, to claim his prize. What he finds when he gets there is a over-sized house full of spooks who have taken Mario hostage and plan to do the same to Luigi. The mastermind behind this devious scheme? King Boo, exacting revenge on the Mario brothers for all the beatings he took at their hands. Luigi meets Professor E. Gadd, who is an expert in ghosts. He gives Luigi the lowdown and arms him with the Poltergust 3000- a modified vacuum that captures ghosts. Now it's up to you, as Luigi, to clear the house of ghosts and rescue your brother.

Graphically, Luigi's Mansion is about what you'd expect from a launch title- clean and colorful, chocked full-o nifty special effects that showcase a small amount of the GameCube's full potential. The animation is also good, with no stuttering frames and only a small amount of what I hesitate to even call clipping when your flashlight is too close to certain walls. It's the little extra touches that make this game seem like more than a souped-up Nintendo 64 game; like the way the Poltergust 3000 can suck up fabrics or the way nearly everything in the game gives off real-time shadows. Very cool but still a little on the lean side.

Why does Professor E. Gadd sound like an Ewok? Seriously, listen to him talk and then watch Return of the Jedi. This is perhaps the scariest thing about this game. Anyway, I can't say I'm all that impressed with the sound in Luigi's Mansion. There a couple of cool moments, but the novelty wears quickly. First of all, the music is very bare-bones. It's basically ten notes, repeated over and over and over. The music only plays at certain times though; the rest of the time you'll either hear Luigi nervously hum the music (in rooms with ghosts) or cheerily whistle the tune (once a room has been cleared). Unfortunately, now that Nintendo is using a medium that lends it's self to things such as voice-over, they skimped. A lot. In fact, the only two spoken words I remember from the game are 'Hello' and 'Mario'. The rest of the game is filled with Banjo-Kazooie/Donkey Kong 64 inspired sounds that are supposed to be voice-like, but aren't. Unacceptable.

It should come as no surprise that this game controls extremely well. I've read reviews (in nationally published magazines no less) that complained about the control set-up, but I never once had a problem switching between gears between the flashlight and the vacuum. Hmm. I guess those guys must've really sucked at games or something (no pun intended). The shoulder buttons control the vacuum, the 'A' button handles searching, 'B' is assigned to the flashlight, the 'X', 'Y' and 'Z' button control various aspects of the Gameboy Horror which the analog stick moves Luigi and the 'C' stick aims the flashlight and Poltergust 3000. It's that simple.

Design-wise, Luigi's Mansion is a little on the simple side. The 'mansion' isn't all that big (but does have quite a bit of variety) and the puzzles aren't too challenging. There are three different ghost to capture: regular, portrait and Boo. The regulars rarely present a challenge while the Portrait Ghosts usually involve a bit of brain-work. Boos are a different beast altogether, requiring fast reaction time and dogged persistence. There is also a sprinkling of room-related puzzles, though I doubt any of them will present much of a challenge to anyone.

Believe or not, Luigi's Mansion actually has quite a bit to offer in the way of extras. There's the Boo Quest (capturing all 50 yields a reward), there's the picture frames (the quality of which depends on how much life you have when you capture a Portrait Ghost) and then there's the Hidden Mansion Mode which slightly increases the difficulty of the game. Best of all, depending on how much money you collect (and money is hidden everywhere), you are ranked from A to H. Why should this matter? The better the ranking, the better the house you end up with at the end of the game! It may not seem like much, but it's the little things like this add to the replay value of an otherwise short game.

Should you get Luigi's Mansion? It all depends on you're ability to look past the faults of a 'kiddie' game to find, at heart, a rough-around-the-edges Nintendo gem that has the potential to become a great franchise with proper guidance. If you crave a Mario adventure and can't wait for Mario Sunshine, Luigi's Mansion might temporarily fill that void.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/12/09

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

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