Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/17/01 | Genre: Adventure
There is something strange in the neighborhood, who ya going to call? Luigi! Yes, you heard me right--there are ghosts to catch and since the Ghostbusters are old and retired there is only one plumber able to suck up the ghosts--Luigi. Staring in his first game ever, Luigi sets out on a quest to find his missing brother Mario. While many will want to compare Luigi's Mansion to other Mario games, this is not a fair comparison. Instead of the normal Mario gameplay that we are all accustomed to, Nintendo has created an entire new gameplay systems for players to master. In fact, after playing Luigi's Mansion for just a few minutes, you will be hooked.
When I heard Nintendo was launch the GameCube without a Mario game, I panicked. For the first time in the history of Nintendo systems, there would not be a Mario platformer selling alongside the system. However, once I got a taste of what Nintendo was offering earlier this year at E3, I was satisfied. Luigi's Mansion was one of the best games at Nintendo's booth this year and shows off what the little 'Cube is capable of.
First thing you will notice is the size of the disk. These things are so small but there is a lot of gameplay goodness inside. Once the disk is popped in and the system turned on, the title screen appears with the theme music of the game. The nice thing about Luigi's Mansion is that there are no load times. While I am used to waiting for my PS2 and Xbox games to load up, Luigi's Mansion loaded up more like a cartridge than a normal CD-based game.
When the game begins, the player will be treated to a gorgeous cinematic sequence. At last Nintendo has the space available to showcase CG openings! Once inside the mansion, the player's first task is to go upstairs where they will run into Professor E. Gadd. This Japanese speaking dude is short in stature but provides our hero the help he needs throughout the game.
After leaving the mansion, the Professor provides Luigi a vacuum cleaner dubbed the "Poltergeist 3000" and a training tutorial. Here you will learn how to capture ghosts. To do this, the player must shine their flashlight on a ghost when it appears on the screen. The ghost will then reveal its heart. When the player sees the ghost's heart, push the R button down all the way; the suction process will now begin! To completely suck the ghost into the Poltergeist 3000, the player must push the C analog stick in the opposite direction of where the ghost is on screen. As this happens, the ghost's health will slowly deteriorate. When it reaches zero, the ghost will be sucked up! This may sound complicated--however after a few moments of play, it will become second nature.
One complaint I had at E3 was the control. To move Luigi around at E3, the player was forced to use the left analog stick to move his legs and the right analog stick to move his body. While it was possible to get accustomed to this--it created a very high learning curve that took away from the fun of the title. Nintendo realized this and simplified the process. In the final version, players can move Luigi with the left analog stick. If you need to move his flashlight or vacuum, simply move the C analog stick. However, those who feel they are comfortable with the control method shown off at E3 can change the controls if they wish.
The graphics in Luigi's Mansion are beautiful. The mansion is dark and spooky as scared Luigi creeps through the hallways. When a room is cleared of ghosts, the room lights up and becomes very pleasant. After this occurs, our fearful hero is no longer scared and is ready to search the room for keys, hearts, and money! The shadow and lighting effects in Luigi's Mansion are also great. Words cannot do justice to just how beautiful these effects are... you just have to see them! And remember, this is a first generation title... I can only imagine what the future holds for the graphics on the GCN!
One of the great things about Nintendo titles is that they always pay attention to the smallest detail. When our hero is walking through the haunted, dark mansion with only a flashlight and a few candles to light up his path, you can understand why he would be so scared. As he creeps along, you will hear Luigi humming the theme music to Luigi's Mansion. It is a small touch that really adds a lot to the title. Another touch Nintendo added is when Luigi walks his nose bobs up and down as he leaves a trail of dust behind him--similar to Sony's main character in ICO.
If you can't already tell, I really like Luigi's Mansion. It is a fun and enjoyable title for the GameCube. However, the game can be defeated in around 10 hours. If you use a strategy guide to get you passed some of the hard puzzles, it probably will take much less time to defeat the game. Do yourself a favor--if you play Luigi's Mansion, don't use a strategy guide. While some of the puzzles are a little bit tough, they can be figured out if you just think about it for a few minutes.
Okay, so Luigi's Mansion is a good game. However, is it worth buying a GameCube for? No, you shouldn't buy a GameCube for Luigi's Mansion like you bought a Nintendo 64 for Mario 64. However, you should get a GameCube. With titles like Rogue Squadron II, Super Monkey Ball, and the soon to be released Pikmin and Super Smash Brothers Melee, this is going to be one great system. Don't forget, the next Mario, Zelda, and Metroid titles are coming next year...
If you have a GameCube, you just have to pick up Luigi's Mansion. It is definitely worth your time and energy.