Review by EnmaDaio2588
Mario is Missing but It's Alright This Time...
Ya know what's great about October? Walking around big box stores and face-palming every time you see Christmas decorations. Better yet though, you can refuse to acknowledge the existence of Christmas by purchasing fake blood and throwing it at people. Of course if you're slightly more sane than that you can just hunt down a copy of Luigi's Mansion and pretend you're playing a proper horror game. It's July though so...staying indoors to escape the heat is probably a good idea anyway.
Luigi's Mansion was a launch title for the Nintendo Gamecube and is unique in that it's the first game to star Mario's not quite as popular brother Luigi. It seems that Luigi has won a brand new Mansion in a contest he didn't actually enter. When he goes to the site to meet his brother and, claim his prize he finds that things aren't quite as they seem to be. The mansion Luigi 'won' seems to be overrun with neon ghosts! With the help of Professor E. Gadd and his fantastic Poltergust 3000 and, Gameboy Horror.
Luigi's Mansion deviates from the Mario formula in that you aren't platforming or indeed, jumping at all. There is a slightest hint of an RPG element but this game is more of an adventure game than anything. The game takes place completely within Luigi's mansion (see what they did there?) and a small bit of the grounds. You the player have 5 floors counting the basement and roof to explore in your quest to exercise all of the ghosts and find your wayward brother.
Despite being a Gamecube launch title, Luigi's Mansion is a beautifully rendered game. The rooms of the mansion are unique and greatly varied. When you're in areas of the house that are without power, the mansion is creepy without being too scary. When the power is restored the colors and style really pop and just look fantastic. The ghost you try to capture are likewise varied and shown in brilliantly colored with several different types to keep things visually interesting. Luigi himself looks fantastic and has multiple facial expressions which really convey how horrified he is at the prospect of being stuck in a haunted mansion. Luigi will even hum and whistle along with the theme music which I found to be very entertaining.
As I mentioned before, Luigi is armed with the Poltergust 3000 which is basically a combination of the proton pack and, ghost trap from the Ghostbusters series. This is your primary weapon against the many ghosts which haunt the mansion. Luigi is also armed with a Gameboy Horror which is a combination item linked to the X, Y and, Z buttons. The Gameboy Horror will show you the map of the mansion, the ghosts you've caught, the treasures you've found and, it can even function as a camera which can be used to help you analyze certain ghosts. Taking a photo of other things can make other things happen as well such as opening up a secret warp or, teleporting you to the anteroom on the first floor of the mansion.
Moving about the mansion is done using two control styles, standard and sidestep. Sidestep is similar to an FPS control scheme in that one stick controls Luigi's walking direction and the C-Stick controls the direction Luigi is facing. Standard controls are my preferred method though and the default movement setting where you can use the C-Stick to aim but don't specifically need to. You can use camera vision to look around the entirety of the room you're in since the camera is fixed. The fixed camera works quite nicely here and only becomes problematic during the final boss fight and certain ghostly encounters. Outside of tough encounters though, the controls can sometimes feel a bit sticky and, slow.
Speaking of ghostly encounters, this game is filled with the things! In dark rooms and, hallways Luigi encounters ghostly bats, mice, and people which will do damage to him if they grab onto or, bump into him. There are some special ghosts floating around in the various rooms as well which count towards the total number of ghosts Luigi has caught. The common ghosts you catch in every other hallway and, room don't count towards your overall number of ghosts for plot reasons that I don't plan on going into here. There are also a handful of bosses scattered about the mansion but they're really nothing special. Once you've figured the bosses out you can have them knocked out relatively quickly and they're not especially imaginative considering some of the other ghosts in the house.
The gameplay is very simple; Luigi walks through the house, sucking up ghosts in various rooms so as to purify the rooms and restore power to the house. You begin the game with a majority of the mansion being locked down so you will be opening up the mansion after most encounters. The path you take is more or less linear but there are some aspects of the game which you can miss out on if you're not specifically treasure hunting. That being said though, if you wanted to to get an A ranking you would have to do a little bit of grinding since it seems like money respawns or, appears at random in certain areas of the mansion (except for certain areas of course).
Combat is generally made up of shining your mighty flashlight at a ghost which will reveal its heart. Once the heart of a ghost is revealed you can suck it up into the Poltergust 3000. Most ghosts have HP (from about 10 to 300) so Luigi will have end up in a frantic tug-of-war with the ghost or ghosts he has tethered. Some ghosts, such as portrait ghosts and boss ghosts, require a bit more finesse to deal with such as one boss who needs to be frozen before you can suck it up. For the most part, ghosts are confined to the hallways and rooms where you find them.
That being said though, there is one enemy type that is just completely annoying to catch and, tether. These would be The Boos. The absolutely worst aspect of Luigi's Mansion would have to be catching the Boos. Soon after entering the mansion, Luigi stumbles upon a vault which he will accidentally open. This releases 51 Boos into the mansion which Luigi must then find and catch. Now the official counter will say 50 but what's forgotten is that King Boo is also released from the vault and the final Boo you will catch no matter what, even after catching the other 50. You must catch certain numbers of Boos to make it to certain bosses in Luigi's Mansion as well. What makes Boos so frustrating is their ability to faze through walls and out of the room you found them in. When Boos are in hallways it's very difficult to keep a hold of them and, that's if you managed to tether them to begin with. Certain rooms lead into other rooms that you can't get to unless you walk around several other hallways and worse yet is when a Boo fazes into a room that is still locked to Luigi!
Once you've collected all the money you can find, found as many Boos as possible and captured King Boo, you find your red-clad brother! The game ends on a laugh which is always fun and after the credits roll, you have the option to play again in a hidden mansion. It's similar to the original mansion but with ghosts which are tougher to catch so, consider this your 'Hard' mode. It seemed easier to catch ghosts on the second play-through if you don't play in the hidden mansion which leads me to assume you get a stronger Poltergust 3000 but I don't really have confirmation on that.
The game is definitely a fun game even if the controls get a bit sticky at times. The biggest knock against this game is how short it is which really isn't bad as far as complaints go. That being said though, the later boss fights show how limiting and frustrating the fixed camera can be. The Boo hunting aspect of the game could have also been very annoying if you found yourself fighting a Boo who knew which rooms you still couldn't get to yet. The brevity of the game could have easily been a saving grace for it if a longer version was wrought with even more of those types of issues. As for finding a copy of the game if you don't already have one then you will hit a wall. Since Luigi's Mansion is a Gamecube launch title, you will not find a big-box store or, Gamestop that carries a new copy. Amazon has the premium hits version of the game which is new for nearly $90 at this point and I wouldn't recommend anybody spend that much for this game. It's even going to be difficult to find if you buy games used since Gamestop is going to stop carrying Gamecube games if they haven't already (in their actual stores for sure and possibly even their website). Your best bet would be to dig in your basement, attic or, closet to see if you may still have a copy or, ask a friend who owned a Gamecube in the before-time.
If you can lay hands on a copy of Luigi's Mansion then by all means, play it! It's easy enough to pick up and play, you can finish it in a weekend and, it encourages more than one play-through. If you're a collector than you likely already have a copy of this but if you don't it's definitely worth it for the collection. If you're trying to get into the Halloween spirit but are afraid of actual horror games then you can use this game as a stepping stone to get yourself ready for an actual horror game. I liked the game enough for 2 playthroughs this past October which is something I personally don't do usually which is a great point in the game's favor. There's a possibility that Luigi's Mansion will become a recurring October tradition for me as well, right next to Nightmare Before Christmas and, Pumpkin Pie.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Luigi's Mansion (US, 11/17/01)
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