Review by Big C Man

"Short and Not Enough Variety - Luigi's Mansion Hardly Worth Buying"

Millions of people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo’s next-generation console. Whether it was because they disliked Microsoft, were loyal to Nintendo, loved Nintendo’s icons, or just thought it would be plain better than the PS2 or Xbox, people wanted to see the power of the GCN. It certainly had to be one of the most anticipated consoles of all time.

However, breaking with custom, Nintendo decided not to release a Mario game as the launch title for the GameCube. Instead, Nintendo opted to use the Mario’s lesser known brother, Luigi, as the star. Luigi’s Mansion featured Luigi in a quest to save his brother Mario from the ghosts of a mansion that Luigi managed to win in a contest. The fact that Luigi won the contest in itself is a surprise because Luigi actually didn’t even enter any contests at all. Needless to say, once he arrives, he discovers that some greater force has tricked him and his brother. Luigi, armed with Professor E. Gadd’s Poltergust 3000 (a sort of vacuum cleaner to suck up the ghosts), must defeat ghosts, Boos, and other fiends as he tries to find Mario.

One would expect that play control in a game with either of the Mario brothers would be filled with obstacles, running, jumping, and stomping of enemies. Luigi’s mansion again takes a different approach. Luigi is confined to using his flashlight and Poltergust 3000 as he walks around the house. The most action Luigi actually ever performs is when he knocks on objects or opens doors. The control scheme is set up to allow the player to fully be able to control Luigi’s flashlight or vacuum cleaner and use the two control sticks (the main one and the C-stick) together to catch ghosts. While this idea is unique to the Mario series, it is hardly new to many games, and it really results in the frustration of Mario fans. Rather than a game where Luigi can shine and outperform Mario for once, he is stuck with a game where all he gets to do is walk and vacuum. This is definitely not what Luigi fans had in mind when they complained constantly to Nintendo about the lack of Luigi’s presence in Mario games. The gameplay if fun for a while, but it becomes repetitive, and with so little variety, I wanted to put the game down every hour or so.

There are many positives to Luigi’s Mansion, however. The graphics and sound are stunning. Luigi’s flashlight demonstrates the incredible lighting effects of the GameCube. By creating an environment that is inherently dark, Nintendo gave itself the perfect opportunity to showcase its lighting ability. Other graphical effects are demonstrated when Luigi opens doors. His trembling hand cautiously approaches a beautifully detailed doorknob, which he turns and opens ever so slowly. These effects truly are demonstrative of the GameCube’s power, and perhaps this is just what Nintendo wanted to show off when they created the game. The sound also is spectacular. Luigi’s voice-acting is performed very well, and there are points where you can here him whistle. However, the game’s ultimate shortcomings in these areas are that they are too few. The game really only has one soundtrack, which is constantly repeated throughout the game. Perhaps Nintendo focused too much on showing off and too little on gameplay. I get the feeling that this game was more of a demonstration of graphics and effects more than anything else.

The most disappointing aspect of Luigi’s Mansion is that it is far too short. The game will not take very long to complete for any veteran gamer. Newcomers will take a little more time, but not much because Nintendo really didn't make it very long. This is what has led me to believe that Nintendo used the game as a special effects show-off and not as an actual game. It falls far below the standard for quality that Nintendo has so often delivered, and when compared to games like Super Smash Bros. Melee it simply looks like a minnow in the ocean with sharks. The game tries to encourage some replay value by creating a “Hidden Mansion” which appears after you win the first time, but this seems to be the same thing just given a different title.

The only reason I can see for replaying this game is to improve your own personal mansion which E. Gadd builds for you as a result of the money you make at the end. I got a “D” grade mansion, which is almost the same grade as I gave this game. It earns a “C minus” or 7.0/10 only because of the fact that some players who like this genre of games will enjoy trying to catch ghosts with Luigi. If you are a big time Luigi fan and crave a game starring him, go ahead and give it a try. If you are considering buying it, you need to rent it first. It’s a big disappointment to GCN fans, and it definitely earned a bad reputation at the GCN’s launch. This game would probably be more suitable as a bonus disc in Super Mario Sunshine, rather than its own $50 game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 12/20/02, Updated 12/20/02

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