For over 30 years, Mario has been the most beloved hero of video games, captivating anyone who ever plays it, even me. Though if you don’t know me or already know, you may know that I’m not a fan of Mario as a character due to having a personality of a cardboard cutout. You also may know that the other characters in the series have much more personality and are much more likable. And so, my favourite brother is of course Luigi.
What could you say about Luigi? He’s a coward but is still determined, cheery but quite clumsy at times and you appreciate him for it. Now what could you say about Mario? Barely anything, he’s cherry…and that’s it. With that said, who wants Mario to be the damsel in distress this time around? And just in time for Halloween, it’s Luigi’s Mansion (ルイージマンション Ruīji Manshon, Luigi Mansion), developed and published by Nintendo and was released in 2001 in the US and Japan and in 2002 in Europe and Australia.
Luigi wins a contest and the prize is his own mansion…despite the fact that he never entered in the first place. Luigi tells Mario about this, which probably raises some suspicion. So Mario investigates the mansion to make sure there’s no shenanigans going on, only to not return. So Luigi, despite having a fear overload, goes to the spooky mansion to find his brother. Upon arriving, he’s suddenly attacked by a ghost, but gets rescued by an old man and a vacuum cleaner. The old man is Professor E. Gadd and he tells Luigi that this mansion isn’t even old, in fact, it’s only been there for a few days and that King Boo and his ghostly minions are the cause of this. So Luigi is the one to save Mario (for once…oh wait, Mario is Missing), but in order to bust some ghosts, he gets equipped with the Poltergust 3000. And so, adventure awaits you in this ghostly mansion.
So you guide Luigi in a massive mansion using two items. The first one being the Poltergust 3000, this is used to suck ghosts in. You see, there are ghosts around the mansion, from different shapes and sizes to different types. So to capture normal ghosts, you need to flash your torch at them until you see their heart, only then can you suck them in, but they’ll try and resist so you always have to pull back, when you do this, the ghost’s health depletes, so when it reaches zero, the ghost is sucked into the Poltergust 3000. There are special types where you have to solve a clue to actually suck them in, so you have to do something extra just to catch them. Each of these ghosts have something unique to them, with personality and backstory, and this is where the game is kind of creepy, even for a Mario title, they pretty much died in this house in one way or another. There are bosses…well about a few as well as a final boss, the first one isn’t too bad, the second one can be challenging…erm…Oh! The final boss is really hard if you don’t know how the boss works but not impossible. After a boss, you can send them to Professor Gadd and press them back into portraits using the Ghost Portrificationizer (Just go with it).
You can also suck other things in the mansion like candles, vases, wardrobes and many more. The reason for this? To collect money. You see, every time you get rid of ghosts in a room, it lights up and you’re rewarded with treasure, from coins, to bank notes, to pearls and gems and what not, collect them all in each chapter and watch as the game totals up how much bank you have and watch your face brighten up as you earn stupendous amounts of cash if you’re good enough.
Your second item is the Game Boy Horror (a parody of the Game Boy Color), where you can examine the world in first-person and examine certain items. It has a map to show you where to go so long as you have a key when you light up rooms. Keys can be found in chests in lit-up rooms, but some can be treasure. In certain areas, you’ll find an element, like Water, Fire and Ice, so you can shoot water, shoot fire or shoot ice and you’ll use this on specific ghosts with certain weaknesses.
But that’s not all, Luigi, for some reason, unleashed a bunch of Boos and you got to get rid of them too. There are 50 of them and you have the option to collect them all (and I managed to collect them all somehow). Using your Game Boy Horror, there will be an indicator telling you which item in a room contains a Boo, and then the Boo tells you a pun based on their name…BOOOOOOOOO!!! Though collecting them can be annoying at times since they can move to another room. Thankfully, their health isn’t affected by the move but it will take time, especially with Boos with health of 300 OOOOOOOHHHH that’s painful.
Once you defeat the final boss, you get ranked based on how much treasure you’ve collected from a fantastic A to a let down-worthy H, I managed to get a B so I got the second best mansion, not too bad. Then you can beat another mode called the Hidden Mansion which is more harder. But for some reason, the European version takes the Hidden Mansion and makes it the main game, making the European version much harder than the US version.
The game is quite fun, controls are pretty good though my nitpick is controlling the Poltergust 3000 since it’s inverted but it’s something to get used to. In terms of challenge, it’s not too bad but there are some tough moments. If you die, it will do a Resident Evil and send you back to the start screen. But I do like the fact that it’s short, something that many critics didn’t like but I do, it took me 5-6 hours to finish so it’s not that bad but considering that this game was and still is pricey, you’d want more for your money so I understand. Oh, and I beat this with a friend, now that was a good time. Actually, I beat this game in time for one of the E3 conferences this year.
The graphics are fantastic for early GameCube and let’s talk about the level design; because despite still being very cartoonish, the mansion still has that horror atmosphere that can still be intimidating and it can even spook some children, not scar them, don’t worry, but it’s the harmless scariness, it’s Nintendo after all. The music is all over the place but not as wacky as Earthbound, but close. It can go from haunting to funky to just downright weird like catching ghosts and I love it, some of the songs are even catchy like the main theme.
Overall, Luigi’s Mansion is a fantastically original game from the Mario series. Despite being a spin-off, it’s still refreshing enough to the point where I realise that it’s something I don’t see in Mario games these days. It’s so fun with, in a way, decent controls, unique gameplay, nice puzzles and the music will take you places, everything about the game is unique and I like it. Sure it may be short, and some moments like catching Boos may add longevity to your annoyance should you want to collect them all. Check out this game if you have a GameCube or a Wii.
It’s a shame the game is near cult status though since some people didn’t like it because they wanted a proper Mario game…funny considering that people nowadays hate the fact that Mario barely does anything fresh at times. Thankfully, the game did get a sequel on the 3DS, Luigi’s Mansion 2, so this tale does have a happy ending after all. When will I review this one? When I can get a copy of course, this is the Nintendo 3DS after all.
You can get it on the Nintendo GameCube.
Next Time: It’s another spooky game…pray for me though, this one ain’t going to be pretty.