Review by JMackie

"Not Just Another Nintendo Platformer..."

Ever since the NES, Nintendo has created a new Mario game for each system launch. We had Super Mario Brothers for the NES, Super Mario World for the SNES, and Mario 64 for the N64. Heck, even the Virtual Boy got Mario Tennis. The Gamecube launch is a little different, though. This time Luigi takes center stage. First of all, let me just say that it’s about darn time! Don’t get me wrong; I love Mario. But his “rescue the princess” antics are a little worn-out. Do not confuse Luigi Mansion with “just another Nintendo platformer.”

After the Gamecube boot screen, you’re immediately thrust into the game. There’s no loading time in this title. That’s right, none at all. It truly feels like you’re playing from a cartridge. The story opens up as Luigi wanders through a spooky forest, a map in hand. Apparently, Luigi has won a mansion in a contest and was given the map to find it. Following the map, Luigi stumbles across the mansion. It’s a cliché ridden decrepit house atop a hill. Shortly after entering the ghostly manor you encounter a strange scientist. He informs you that ghosts have inhabited the mansion and he needs your help to clean them out. He’s invented a magical vacuum cleaner that will capture the ghosts, at which point they can be turned into paintings. Soon after leaving the scientist, you’ll bump into Toad and he will let you know that Mario is missing. And so Luigi sets out to rescue his brother and clean up his mansion.

The basic flow of the game consists of entering a new area, sucking up all of the ghosts, collecting a key, and then repeating if necessary. The game manages to stay fresh, however, as it throws dozens of clever puzzles at you. Luigi Mansion is quite a bit like Resident Evil, actually, just not quite as horrific. Often, you’ll be able to see the ghost, or there will be some sort of clue that a ghost is around, but exactly how to trap the ghost isn’t immediately apparent. Once you’ve solved the puzzle, you’ll be able to begin sucking up the ghost. They won’t go voluntarily, however. It’s at this point where the title almost feels like Sega’s Get Bass as you reel in the ghost. Some ghosts have 10 hit points; others can have upwards of 200. As you reel them in, they lose hit points. It’s not until the number reaches 0 that you can actually capture them.

It’s a bit difficult at first to move around, let alone suck up ghosts. The game uses a dual analog control system; it’s confusing at first, but really works well in the end. It wasn’t long after starting the game that I was sucking up ghosts without even breaking a sweat. The only complaint I have with the controls is that Luigi tends to run a bit slowly. That’s really just detail nagging, though; Luigi controls like a dream.

Luigi Mansion does have one thing I’ve never seen in a video game before: the main character hums the music. That’s right. Throughout the entire game, Luigi either hums or whistles along with the music, depending on his outlook of the area. When he’s inching through a dark room with his flashlight, his voice will quiver a bit as he hums. When strolling through the front entryway, Luigi is completely carefree, whistling away. It really draws the player into the game. Unfortunatly, while Luigi has a few lines of speech, most of the game is not voiced. The scientist speaks a gibberish language like the critters in Rayman. Full voice acting would have been nice, but it’s absence doesn’t really detract from the game.

I remember once when my mom made me clean out the attic. The light bulb had broken of course, so I had to stumble around in the dark with a flashlight to change it. I could see the dust floating up in the light of my flashlight. It was pretty creepy. In Luigi Mansion, you can actually see dust in the path of your light. The attention to detail is absolutely absurd. It’s easy to see why Nintendo once had Luigi Mansion running as a tech demo at the gaming expos. When you explore a darkened room with your flashlight, shadows bend depending on your location in the room. Light accurately reflects off of mirrors. Tablecloths react realistically to your vacuum. The model for Luigi looks prerendered. It’s that impressive. The ghosts all look quite nice; they’re a bit transparent. It’s a nice effect. A little more variety among the spooks would’ve been nice. There are maybe only a dozen different types of ghosts.

Luigi Mansion isn’t exactly a lengthy experience, but it’s long enough. It’s a big mansion, with maybe 100 or so rooms to explore. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to play after you finish. You’re given a rank at the end of the game. You can play through the game again, with some slight differences, but really it’s just the same game again. After completing the mansion about twice, I was about done with the title. It’s an amusing title, and not your typical Nintendo fare. I hope Nintendo turns it into a franchise. I’ll be first in line for the sequel.

Final Score: 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/02/01, Updated 10/03/01

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