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Steve (Bane) Rhoades November 26, 2001 Review Feedback

Luigi's Mansion




Release Date:





Game Details

Luigi's Mansion is not your usual Mario Bros. game. Aside from the obvious fact that Luigi has stepped behind the flashlight in an attempt to rescue his brother, the gameplay is fundamentally different than any previous Mario game. There are no goombas or koopa troopers to jump on, no pipes to traverse, and no fire flowers or stars to grab hold of. Heck, Princess Toadstool is only mentioned in passing, and doesn't need any rescuing at all.

So if you are hoping to find gameplay similar to the N64 incarnation of the Mario series, you may be a bit disappointed. That disappointment should not last too long however, as what you will find in this game is fun.

The game begins as Luigi approaches a mansion that he won in a contest he never entered. Most people would find this at least slightly fishy, but Luigi seems prepared to accept this odd turn of events [Heck, nothing weird ever happens to this guy - EiC]. Upon arriving at the estate, it is of course a dark and stormy night, and rather creepy. Luigi soon discovers that Mario is somewhere inside, and that the mansion is haunted by 999 happy haunts, and they are always looking for number 1000. Something like that anyway´┐Ż

After running into Professor E. Gadd (shake your head at his name, you know you want to), Luigi is briefed on the situation and trained in the arts of ghost combat. Simplifying things quite a bit, the best way to fight ghosts is to blind them with your flashlight and then suck them up in your Poltergust 3000. Let's look at things a bit closer though.

The game is fairly reminiscent of a TV set or a doll house, as your viewpoint has you looking straight through the front wall in any given room, leaving only three. While you can take up a first person viewpoint with your Gameboy Horror, there is rarely anything of interest on the invisible wall. Using the left control stick to move, and the right control stick to aim both vacuum and flashlight, the control scheme is easy to adjust to. The biggest hurdle to leap when battling the supernatural forces is actually the viewpoint, and while it doesn't tend to be an issue in the smaller rooms, some of the larger ones make it difficult to tell the depth of your opponent compared to yourself. This is particularly true of flying opponents. In one of the boss battles, I would have Luigi facing towards me, pointing his vacuum at a high angle, only to discover the bad guy was actually slightly behind him rather than in front. This issue is minor though, as most of the rooms in the mansion have enough junk in them to be used as a reference point for determining the ghosts' depth.

While the average variety of ghosts present little true challenge, there are plenty of super ghosts to challenge our Italian ghost buster. First there are the "portrait ghosts." These guys are particularly powerful ghosts that the professor had once captured and pressed into paintings. Sadly, the Boos have released them all from their paintings, and now Luigi has to recapture them. These guys and gals are the bread and butter of Luigi's Mansion. They advance the story and deliver keys to Luigi allowing him to open doors and continue on his search for Mario.

Each of these 23 ghosts is unique, having a bit of personality, and they must be coerced into revealing their heart before they can be vacuumed. This is usually the puzzle of capturing these ghosts, as they try to keep their hearts hidden. While none of the puzzles are likely to keep you from completing the game, some of them may cause you to quit for a while, and come back with a fresh mind.

Then there are the Boos. These guys don't show up until the lights come on, apparently being impossible to detect in the darkness, and then they hide in the room. Not exactly like the Boos in previous games, they don't freeze and hide their faces when you see them. The biggest challenge about these guys is sucking them up before they go through a wall. They have an annoying habit of disappearing through a wall that requires you to traverse half the mansion to reach them, and can be quite annoying to track down.

One last type of ghost remains, and that is the elemental type, which are aligned with fire, water, or ice. These three elements have a paper-rock-scissors relationship (I'll let you figure out for yourself what beats what), and using the right element to trump a ghost is necessary to reveal its heart. The different elements are also useful for bypassing the occasional puzzle, perhaps a fire must be extinguished or candles must be lit to proceed in the quest. This adds a bit to the game, creating a bit of variety that keeps some of the ghosts from growing old - the elemental ghosts are just a new flavor of the basic haunts.

For the most part, the challenge of the game is in capturing the ghosts rather than surviving. Up to the point of the final battle, I had only died once, and I don't foresee death being a major concern for most players. While you may take damage quite often, few of the enemies cause massive damage, and hearts flow freely.

You can vacuum up all sorts of stuff aside from the ghosts in the mansion, and the physics of the air movement are excellent. Curtains, towels, tablecloths, and practically anything else made of cloth in the immediate vicinity will wave around in the wind caused by your vacuum. Part of your goal in this game is to collect the tons of treasure hidden throughout the mansion, and the vacuum aids you in this task quite a bit. For some reason, opening a treasure chest will send the bills, coins, and even gold bars flying in every direction, and the Poltergust 3000 can help you nab it all before it disappears. Bills drift on the air currents and are almost instantly drawn into the vacuum, but it is even powerful enough to suck up those gold bars. Take that, Dirt Devil and Hoover!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of Luigi's Mansion the exchange rate has got to be much, much higher. The way the wind from the vacuum affects everything is phenomenal, with cloth blowing and fans spinning, chandeliers will swing towards the suction if it is aimed in their general direction. Candlelight flickers and goes out if the air moves around too much, and you can even suck tablecloths right off of tables.

Lighting is another area that the graphics truly shine in (I'm very, very sorry about that pun), as Luigi's flashlight casts true shadows around the room. Lighting flashes outside will send shadows flying away from the direction of the window, and the luminescent ghosts cast an eerie glow about themselves.

The game takes place in a haunted mansion, obviously, and the setting certainly looks the part. Lots of dust, darkness, and creepy paraphernalia around the area really draw you into the setting. Luigi is a wimp, and will whimper quite a bit, but if any of us were in a place this creepy there's a good chance we would be just as wimpy. The detail on Luigi is also quite excellent, his facial expression changing to reflect his mood, and it is quite obvious that they spent a lot of time on him. Nevertheless, he still runs like a girl.

Aurally the game is interesting, as generally a single song pipes through the mansion at all times. It seems to actually exist in the game, rather than in the background, as Luigi occasionally joins in, whistling or humming along to the tune. I've found myself doing the same, sometimes when I'm not even playing the game, it's just one of those songs that will come to you at times, much like most other Mario music.

The effects of the game are interesting, the ghosts make all sorts of crazy sounds, none of them resorting to saying "boo." The sounds are all generally lighthearted, some of them being completely comical. I began referring to one of the ghosts as a "Woombaler" because it drops down from the ceiling making a sort of "Woombala" sound as it hangs from the ceiling.

Don't expect any awards for the voice acting, because there really isn't much, the characters speak to each other in a gibberish language similar to that found in The Sims, and only a few of the exclamations from Luigi are made in English. He'll cry out for Mario, and occasionally say something stereotypically Italian such as Momma-Mia.

As a final note, the game is quite short. I couldn't be certain, but I would guess that it took less than ten hours to beat, which is quite a bit shorter than the games centered on the other plumber. Nevertheless, it's fun while it lasts, the puzzles are enough to create some thought and intrigue, but not so challenging as to make you hate life. It could probably go without saying, but this game isn't really a "horror" title, so if you are considering picking this one up for your kid, go for it, they aren't going to have nightmares or anything.

Was Luigi's Mansion worth picking up? I think so. While it is a bit on the short side, there is some replay value (I got an "E" rating on my first go, so replaying in an attempt to grab the "A" is worthwhile). The graphics are excellent, and the sound above par. The game is just a lot of fun, and certainly something different. Nintendo decided to try something different, and it has paid off.

Game Title Stats
A lot of fresh new ideas for this one.
A bit short, but it'll hold your attention the whole way.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but this one is easily worth a million.

The music is up to the level set by previous games, but there could be some more variety.

Replay Value
Try to get an "A" ranking, worth a return trip or two.
A solid debut title for the Gamecube.

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