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…
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
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
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
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 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.
A lot of fresh new ideas for this one.
A bit short, but it'll hold your attention the
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.
Try to get an "A" ranking, worth a return
trip or two.
solid debut title for the Gamecube.