Retro Review: Luigi’s Mansion (GCN)

Remembering Luigi’s spooky Cube debut…

There’s never been a game quite like it. It was rebuked at launch; people complained about its length and depth. Yet, it has developed a cult following, and many consider it to be one of the most under-appreciated games of the GameCube’s library. Yup, I’m talking about Luigi’s Mansion. In anticipation for the launch of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the Nintendo 3DS, I thought it would be nice to look back at Luigi’s first haunted adventure.

Luigi’s Mansion is unique. It’s part adventure, part puzzler, and all parts lovable charm. The game’s main vacuum mechanic is strange at first glance, but it becomes a ton of fun, even if a bit rough around the edges.

The first thing you’ll notice about Luigi’s Mansion is how great the game looks. The character animations are fluid and the mansion is highly textured. Back when the GameCube launched, these things were immediately apparent. There were things that we’ve never seen before in a game! Those cloth physics were so… real! And the particle effects… simply amazing! Realistic lighting and shadows? unbelievable. And fog? Fog sucks, but this game made it feel good as it added to its already spooky and mysterious atmosphere. The game sure is pretty for a launch title, but I seriously think it’s one of the best-looking games in the GameCube’s library period.

The game’s presentation is also part of where its charm comes from; Luigi’s animations are hilarious and amusing, as well as his reactions to the various things around the mansion. For example, when a ghost pops down from the ceiling, Luigi’s jumps in fright, his face stretched to ridiculous proportions. The game’s story is simple yet entertaining; Mario is missing and it’s Luigi’s job to find him. With the help of E. Gadd, who is equally amusing in his own right, Luigi needs to suck up the numerous ghosts around the mansion in order to rid it of its curse.

Sucking up ghosts with the vacuum is pretty silly (and cumbersome) at first, but you’ll eventually get used to it. Most ghosts are simple to suck up; simply flash Luigi’s flashlight at them to stun them, and suck away! Some ghosts are special and require a bit more extra work to make them vulnerable; these “portrait ghosts” involve players to complete a certain task to stun them, like opening a window and letting the gust blow through or spraying them with water.

But my complaints begin here. As a gamer who absolutely can’t stand using an inverted stick to control the camera, Luigi’s Mansion was a pain in the *ss. It doesn’t help that the game’s isometric point of view made aiming virtually impossible for me. With no option to un-invert the sticks, I was left to deal with the frustrating experience on my own. Another thing that popped out at me was the fact that the gameplay became increasingly dull the more I got into the game. There just wasn’t enough variety to keep me going, and clearing rooms began to feel more like a chore than an enjoyable experience. That is not to say the game doesn’t try to mix things up a bit (portrait ghosts off some challenge as they require players to achieve a specific set of tasks to capture them) but those only go so far as to mix up the gameplay.

I’m not going to lie, though; the game just keeps pushing me forward despite my frustrations. As I mentioned before, the game’s charm makes it so lovable and full of joy. Another thing I’d like to bring up is the game’s music. Though the game really only plays one song throughout its entirety, the variations of the theme are cute, especially when Luigi begins whistling it. Man, I love Luigi so much…

I must say, I’m glad I ended up picking this game up. Despite its short length (it’s only about 5 hours long) and the gameplay issues I had, I actually did find enjoyment in this title thanks to all its bells and whistles. I guess the best way to describe Luigi’s Mansion is that it’s a flawed game, but one with some great ideas that could potentially lead to an fantastic sequel. Just a few tweaks with the controls and further expansion of the vacuum-cleaner concept and that’s really all you need for Luigi’s Mansion 2. And now for the score.


How was your first experience with Luigi’s Mansion?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s