Review by Hayama Akito

Reviewed: 10/07/01 | Updated: 10/07/01

A game that must be experienced, but falls short of classic

Well, The Gamecube finally launched and the hungry importers amongst us snapped up Luigi Mansion, eager to see the first Miyamoto title on Nintendo's new wonder. Surprisingly lacking in his own starring roles (lets forget 'Mario is Missing,' it's for the best), Luigi gets to be the hero, taking on ghosts and trying to find Mario. But you probably knew the plot already. More importantly, is it a good game? Yes, it most certainly is.

Obviously, the first thing you notice are the graphics. They're nothing short of amazing. The way the torch shines on the walls is the most realistic lighting effect I've ever seen in a game. The way that cloth and other materials react to the vacuum ('Oba-cuum' to be precise, pun on 'obake' meaning ghost, and the way the Japanese pronounce vacuum) is incredible. As Luigi walks around, he kicks up dust, moves his head around to look at suspicious objects, and generally looks scared. You can even see his breath. The ghosts are well animated as they struggle to escape the horrors of the hoover. There is really no criticism of the visual side of this game, and it all runs at an (almost) unbroken 30 FPS.

The sound is also great, and Nintendo fans will be pleased to find out just how their favourites are going to sound now that Nintendo have moved onto CD quality sound. Luigi hums to himself as he walks around, mimicking the game's main theme. He yells and screams a lot, he even calls out ''Maaario!'' with many distinct tones. It's quite captivating. The only quibble is that sometimes there's just no music at all in a room, mainly the ones that have been cleared - you only get Luigi whistling happily. I'm all for using silence as an effective element, but a little happy melody in these rooms couldn't hurt.

A lot of complaints have been made about the limited playability - see a ghost, suck it up, repeat. That's not exactly how it goes. True, this accounts for most of the action, but problem solving is also prominent in this game - none of the unique ghosts can simply be sucked up like the grunt ghouls... The charm of the game will probably keep most players glued to it, whereas those who fail to grasp how wonderful this little mansion is will give up and move on. Their loss...

Unfortunately, it isn't a vast game like many people hoped for. You can finish it in around 5 or 6 hours, and depending on your opinion towards games playing, there may not be any replay value for you. There are many challenges to complete to get a 'best rank,' but if score doesn't bother you, you're unlikely to play through Luigi again for a long time. Personally, I had to keep playing until everything was done.

So, to conclude, I heartily recommend this game. It's not a classic however. It won't appeal to everyone, and compared to previous 'Mario launch' titles from Nintendo, it's certainly lacking. However, it's been made clear from the start that THIS IS NOT A PLATFORMER, and everyone should realise that. In a way, it's a new kind of game, borrowing heavily from Resident Evil and possibly Ghostbusters, heh.

The lastability is a key issue, I believe, which will make or break the title for you. I personally was hoping for a vast, sprawling mansion that would last a good 30 hours or so, with many different types of action inside. For example, the scene from Spaceworld which showed Luigi sliding down a banister is nowhere to be found. Surely a boss fight sliding down banisters and trying to vacuum, whilst jumping over obstacles, was easily possible? I hope that Gamecube titles are free of the constraints of cartridge, allowing for truly huge games, and wanted this to be an example of that.

Ah well. As it stands I'm still pleased with the title, it's a worthy addition to my Gamecube collection (of three, heh). Buyers beware though, I don't recommend picking this up on it's own. Make sure get at least one other game with your Cube, otherwise you'll really start to notice the shortness of Luigi Mansion, and it may cloud your judgment of this wonderful little haunted house...

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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