GCN Review: Luigi's Mansion
Review by: Punk Princess (email@example.com)
Game InfoSystem: GameCube
# of Players: 1
Save: 3 blocks
US: Nov 18, 2001
EU: May 3, 2002
JP: Sep 14, 2001
Reviewed on: August 13, 2003
It has been a long tradition with Nintendo to launch a new system with Mario leading the way. Most of the time, that Mario game could be defined as the sole reason for diving into a new generation. But for some reason this isn't the case with the launch of the GameCube. Mario is nowhere to be seen. In fact he is missing and it is up to you to take on the role of Luigi to find him. Luigi is finally back and now starring in his first game. Luigi's Mansion may not be a traditional launch platformer but it does provide an innovative and unique gameplay experience in the traditional Nintendo way. The object is simple; capture all the ghosts in a haunted mansion as you look for Mario. While it may sound like it could get monotonous, it isn't, as each ghost will have a different technique to draw them into the open. Challenges range from rather simple to some that will take some thought. If that isn't enough, there will be a few boss encounters and a couple of side quests to keep you busy.
Visually, Luigi's Mansion is a clean and great looking game. While some objects may appear to be somewhat low in geometry, they don't really stand out and fit quite nicely into the environments. Rooms are quite varied with no two rooms looking alike. A key component that makes the game look as well as it does is the lighting and shadowing. Until you have cleared a room, the lights are out and you will need to use a flashlight to look around. Thus the only light source comes from you, and you can shine that in any direction and at any angle. While doing so, you can see objects cast shadows against the wall which will change depending on the angle and position you are at. The only flaw that stands out though comes from the lightening. Now if you've seen the lightening before, you might be wondering what I'm talking about as it looks quite good in the game. The problem is, it only ever comes from one direction, and it often comes from a direction or room where it is impossible for it to cast light upon the room. Fortunately, you may never even realize this because it comes from the direction of the screen and that wall is hardly ever in view by the player.
However, it wasn't the visuals that impressed me the most; it was the design of the audio. On paper, the audio might scare someone away as it only has one basic tune through the entire game. Yet that one tune never becomes tiresome. It is usually subtle while being played and is played in different ways which gives a little bit of variety to it. What is creative is that they keep the tune going in a way that hasn't been done before. Luigi is the one who is actually performing the music a lot of the time, and you can catch him humming or whistling the tune throughout the game. Switching between Luigi and traditional game music keeps it varied enough that it never gets tiresome. Another nice touch is that when you hit the A button, Luigi will call out for Mario in hopes that he'll respond. But like the music, they change it up a bit so that it doesn't get repetitive. It's actually pretty amusing to watch him do and I got quite a kick out of it for awhile.
While the aesthetics are great, the controls however aren't as glowing. That isn't to say they are bad, but they can be awkward and take a little while to get efficient with them. Being efficient with them will help later on when you are catching the Boo ghosts, which make up one of the side quests. The control scheme mostly centers around using the analog pad for movement, with movement being associated to location on the screen rather than Resident Evil style, which is in relation to the character. From there, you use the C stick to aim your flashlight and vacuum using the R shift button. Essentially controlling Luigi is like using mouse look in a first person shooter. Those who are used to it will adapt quicker, like I did, others may just find it awkward. Once you get the controls down, they are quite good. However, the bottom line is they aren't as intuitive and easy to pick up like Nintendo games usually are.
One nice touch is how interactive the mansion is. You can interact with quite a few objects located in every room. Typically you will need to search everything by either knocking on objects, moving them by hand, or moving them by using your vacuum. As a result you can pull curtains, suck pictures off the wall, blow out candles and so forth. Letting you do so not only draws you more into the environment, but it lets you find secrets such as health power ups and money. Sometimes they will be the key to finding a ghost. Once you start, you will quickly notice you're just checking everything in the room to make sure you didn't miss anything.
Now about the only real complaint, since I don't consider the control to be one, is the length of the game. It's of moderate length, adding up to just under ten hours. Making sure you get everything may take a bit longer, but not by much. You will also probably play through it again to try and find everything, and that will only take you a few more hours. While it is quite a fun game, the length hinders it a little bit, especially since it is a launch title and there will be limited software initially.
That being said, Luigi's Mansion is certainly worth playing and has a lot of the charm and gameplay that you can expect out of Nintendo. If the length doesn't bother you, definitely pick it up right away. However if the length may be an issue, make sure you at least rent and play through it.
-- Punk Princess (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bottom Line: So it's not a Mario game but I think it sort of gives the person playing it a nice experience. It's quite short, though.