GCN Review: Luigi's Mansion
Review by: BeckerManEX (beckermanex@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: GameCube
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Adventure
 # of Players: 1
 Developer: Nintendo
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Save: 3 blocks

 Release Date:
 US: Nov 18, 2001
 EU: May 3, 2002
 JP: Sep 14, 2001

Screenshots:

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Final Score:
8.0/10

Reviewed on: December 24, 2001

Nintendo stunned the world when they announced that they would not be launching the GameCube console with a Mario game per se. The game they would be launching with does stem from the Mushroom Kingdom, in a way, but is not the innovative triumph that was Super Mario 64 when the Nintendo 64 launched in September 1996.

Luigiís Mansion is the story of Marioís brother Luigi who wins a mansion in a contest that he didnít enter. After traveling through the woods in the dark, dreary night, Luigi finally comes upon the mansion and finds it to be a most horrible sight. It turns out that Mario is missing in the mansion, and seems to have been abducted by the ghosts that haunt this house. It is up to you, and your trusty vacuum, to clean the house of the ghosts, and rescue Mario (he had to come up somewhere in the game).

While Luigiís Mansion does have a far amount of gameplay incorporated into it, it is merely an elongated technological demo for what the GameCube can really do. Using all kinds of subtle visual effects, it is a great display of Nintendoís new powerhouse. When Luigi is standing still his breath can be seen dispersing out of his mouth, when he walks through the dusty rooms of the mansion, his boots kick up small amounts of dust, and the fact that he can manipulate many different parts of the environment around him is a attesting to just how great Nintendo can make games. The rest of the environment graphics are top notch. The transparency effects used on the ghosts give just the right touch, and the whole Ghostbusters feel is a perfect example of just how fun the game is. Textures are clean and crisp in some places, and blurry and distorted in others, but for the most part, the clean out-shines the dirty. Luigi himself is made up of a health dose of polygons as well as the surrounding environment, and detailed lighting effects add and extra dose of atmosphere. If nothing, this should silence the critics that donít believe the GameCube can stand up against the Playstation 2ís Emotion Engine and the Xboxís nVidia based graphics card.

This is the first game in the Super Mario Bros. Series that doesnít give you the option to jump in any way, shape, or form. There is no jump button, and there is no automatic jump a la Zelda. Luigi will keep his feet firmly on the floor at all times because he doesnít need to reach objects they come to him with the help of his newest weapon, the Poltergust.

The Poltergust is a vacuum developed by the crazy scientist you meet in the beginning of the game. When you meet him he takes you through a small tutorial and tells you the basics of moving around and trapping ghosts. This is where the game can become difficult for some, as it uses a dual analog stick method of control. The main analog stick is used for movement, while the C stick is used to change Luigiís current view and move his flashlight around. It does take some time to get the hand of it, but in no time you will be sucking up ghosts faster than Oprah sucking up chocolate milkshakes.

The objective of your quest is very simple. When you enter a room the lights will be out. Clear the room of ghosts and the lights will come on and the room will be cleared. In most of the rooms you are rewarded with a key that will open a door somewhere in the house. While this may sound tedious at best, the game doesnít last long enough for you to really get bored with it (more on that later). About a quarter through the game you will beat a puzzle that will let 50 Boos loose throughout the house. The kicker is that Boos will only hide in rooms that have the lights turned on, so you will find yourself backtracking a bit once they are released. They also act as your saving mechanism if you canít find Toad anywhere, as you have the opportunity to save after every Boo you have caught.

Hidden throughout the house are Gallery Ghosts that have escaped from paintings. You will learn early on that it is up to you to capture these ghosts and re-trap them into the paintings that they escaped from.

The game begins to falter in the sound department. There is really only one tune in the entire game, and Luigi will hum it incessantly everywhere he goes in between breaks of yelling his brotherís name. Nintendo took the easy way out with the character voices and pulled a Rare. The characters merely mumble as the text is printed across the screen, very reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie.

Luigiís Mansionís greatest flaw, and itís saving grace, is the fact that the game is really short and can be completed in a five hour block, after that you will never come back to it again, as there is little to nothing to do over and rediscover. This short span is a flaw in the fact that a gamer is not going to want to put down 50 bucks and get 5 hours of solid gameplay out of it. Yet, with the repetitious nature of the game, it also keeps that fact from setting in. You donít play it long enough to get really frustrated about doing the same thing over and over again.

While Luigiís Mansion is in no way trying to be the next Mario game, Mario Sunshine will do that next summer, it does fill the void for some Mario Brother action until we get our real fix with Sunshine. The game does have some flaws and it is clearly obvious that this is not an EAD game, but this is what we got for launch, and with the release of Smash Bros. Melee last week, it is more than enough to keep us going, and keep praising Nintendo for making quality games.

-- BeckerManEX (beckermanex@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Luigi's Mansion is not Super Mario 64, but it doesn't try to be. It is merely a placeholder to give the team at EAD more time to polish Mario Sunshine, yet it's a very fun placeholder with a few flaws.