By: Jared Black
After years of
being the neglected brother, the green-hatted Luigi has finally
gotten his own adventure. Apparently Luigi has won a free mansion in
a contest he doesn’t even remember entering, and he arranges to
meet his brother there for a tour. Unfortunately, once he arrives he
discovers that his brother Mario is nowhere to be found, and to make
matters worse the mansion is haunted. Thus, with the help of a crazy
old scientist, Luigi sets out to rid the mansion of ghosts and
rescue his brother Mario.
is a very straightforward and simple adventure. Utilizing a
flashlight (to stun the ghosts) and a vacuum cleaner (to suck ‘em
up), Luigi sets out to clear room after room of the specters
inhabiting it. Clearing out each room or area will open up another
area (usually via a key gotten from a vanquished foe) that needs to
be conquered. It’ll also turn on the lights in the cleared room or
area, which is important because (a) it helps the player to keep
track of where he’s been and (b) ghosts hate light. There’s very
little choice as to what gets done first, so it plays out in a very
linear fashion. Along the way, Luigi will earn a variety of cash,
jewels, coins, and more by way of vanquishing ghosts and searching
ghosts can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as it almost
plays out like a mini-fishing game. While most ghosts can simply be
captured by shining the light and sucking ‘em up, a number of them
require intelligent manipulation of objects in the environment. For
example, in one room a ghost is at a large banquet table feasting.
He’ll disappear whenever you try to shine the light on him, unless
you first anger him by sucking up his dinner. Naturally this makes
him angry, and he’ll begin to hurl balls of fire at you. Dodge
these for a while, and eventually he’ll tire himself out. Once he’s
tired and vulnerable, only then can you begin to suck him in. Enemies
such as this that require advanced tactics are scattered throughout
the game, and they’re frequent and varied enough that they prevent
the game from getting overly repetitive.
As great as all
of this is, unfortunately the game still gets boring at times.
Sucking up the ghosts is fun for a while, but once you master using
your vacuum and light it becomes far too easy of a task. The
linearity doesn’t help either, particularly when you get stuck for
a brief time in one particular room. Doing the same task 2-3 times
to reach a boss character is downright annoying when that task was
simplistic to begin with.
shines in Luigi’s Mansion are the gorgeous graphics. This
game's primary purpose was to showcase what the GameCube hardware could do,
and it’s here that the game succeeds admirably. The environments
are incredibly detailed, with tons of objects everywhere. Even more
impressive is that each of these objects reacts appropriately to
Luigi’s actions. Sucking the fire from a candle will produce a
"bending" that’s incredibly realistic, and is
accompanied with some excellent particle effects. Aiming the vacuum
at some drapes will result in those drapes being pulled towards
Luigi, all the while flowing appropriately and moving at a realistic
pace. Open up a refrigerator, and out pours some excellent fogging.
Shake a vase, and a plume of dust will fly up.
It’s not just
the realistic physic model though, as there is some awesome
shadowing present here as well. Shine Luigi’s light on any (and I
mean any) object, and that object will shadow appropriately based on
the angle of Luigi’s beam and distance away from the object. When
a bolt of lightning strikes outside the mansion, every object in the
room you’re in will also shadow appropriately. Tie this all
together with Nintendo’s traditional cartoony atmosphere, and your
eyes are in for a visual feast.
perfect…and that can be said about Luigi's Mansion’s visuals.
First, some of the rooms are less than stellar. While they still
look great, compared to other early GameCube visuals they’re
slightly underwhelming. Perhaps this is due to the special
effects already using up a lot of processor. There are also some very blurry
textures to be found in places, which look like they were pulled
straight out of a N64 game. I don’t know if the team ran out of
time, didn’t realize they weren’t constrained by the N64
anymore, or what. Finally, as with any Nintendo title some people
might not like the visual style used. These are very minor problems
however, as the game as a whole still looks awesome.
On the sound
side of things, Luigi’s Mansion is also technically
excellent. Environment effects are everywhere, from the sound of
ghosts unseen to running water. Luigi’s calls out to Mario are
excellent, and the professor’s talking is very cute. The music is
awesome as well, but here the game suffers a bit from a lack of
available tracks. There’s only one main theme song that plays
throughout the mansion, and I’ve had trouble getting it out of my
head ever since I turned off the game to write this review. There
are other songs as well (like the excellent
"8-bit yet not" track that accompanies a transmission on
the Game Boy Horror and a rendition of a certain classic Nintendo
theme…), but these don’t pop up that often. For the most part,
it’s just the main theme (and Luigi’s incessant whistling of
Now that I’m finished with the typical gameplay/graphics/sound
breakdown, a few other things need to be said. One, this title is literally drenched in
Nintendo goodness. Throughout the game you’ll find references to
classic Nintendo games and a very "Nintendo" feel, and
naturally for any fan of Nintendo’s games these will be memorable
experiences. Secondly, this isn’t a game with a lot of replay
value. The adventure only clocks in at 6-10 hrs. (depending on skill
level and how fast you play it), and once it’s over it’s pretty
much over for good. There is very little incentive to play it over
again. Finally, and most importantly, this isn’t Super Mario
If you go into it expecting an experience as revolutionary as that,
you’ll be greatly disappointed. If however you go into it
expecting a good adventure title, then you'll be pleased.
graphics that showcase the hardware. The PS2 would have a tough
time ever matching this.
- Finally a
good Ghostbusters game…except it doesn’t star Dr. Peter
Venkman, Dr. Raymond Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, and Winston
- The music is
very catchy…sometimes too catchy. Must…extract…tune…from…brain…
- A nice
variety of puzzles to complete throughout the mansion.
textures and low-poly environments occasionally (and
inexplicably) mar graphical splendor.
- It’s very
short, with very little reason to play through it a second time.
positives outweigh the negatives, but the question still remains:
should you buy Luigi’s Mansion? If you’re a hardcore
Nintendo and/or Mario fan, the answer is most definitely
"yes". You probably won’t care about the
sometimes-repetitive gameplay and lack of replay value.
For the rest of
you, the answer is much tougher to give. If you didn’t mind the
somewhat short quests in games like ICO and Silent Hill 2,
then the answer is "probably". Given that the quest is so
short however, perhaps you should just rent it one weekend and beat
it that way instead.