Happy Halloween everyone! Not only is this a day of candy, trickery and everything
horror under the sun being appreciated, but it’s also the beginning of my very own series :
RESET. A typical game review column where I go down memory lane and talk about my
first experiences with a game, but also inform you whether a game is worth pressing
RESET or POWER. So without further ado, let’s hope right into this Halloween special with
a game that you COULD put into the horror category (albeit maybe only scary for younger
folks) Luigi’s Mansion!
Luigi’s Mansion, if you told me nowadays that Nintendo was introducing a brand
new Mario spin-off series which starred Luigi in a Resident Evil type game, I’d probably be
very skeptical, but low and behold this game was one of my favorite GameCube titles
growing up. It was winter of 2002 when I first laid eyes upon this game at a Toys R’ Us in
the form of a demo. My only prior experience with anything Mario related at the time was
playing Mario Kart 64 with my cousin who normally taunted me about my only game
console being the “inferior” Sega Genesis. As much as I loved the old hunk of plastic, I was
floored that day in the toy store when I saw the cutting edge gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion,
and begged for my parents to pick it up with the system for it. (Which at the time I still
thought was an N64 title, oh naïve little Doc)
Thus for Christmas, after what my Mother now calls as “One of the biggest hurdles
I ever faced with pleasing you as the spoiled child you were” I got my very own Nintendo
GameCube. At first I was surprised, what is this purple lunchbox? Where’s that smoke grey
console that I would pop in cartridges with my cousin? I would come to find out that THIS
was the successor to the N64, and nonetheless I was appalled. My Mother and
Grandmother ventured everywhere just to find the GameCube/Super Mario Sunshine
bundle as well as getting me two extra games that I vaguely had seen before, one of those
was Super Smash Bros. Melee (Bless it’s soul) and of course, Luigi’s Mansion.
After messing around with Sunshine for a little bit (I always was more biased
towards Mario in Mario Kart 64) I finally decided to pop in Luigi’s Mansion and give it a
shot. Finally I’d be able to play the game that blew me away at the toy store a few months
back. I finally picked up my controller and played it…and played it…and…okay I was lost.
REALLY lost. At the time I was so use to playing games that simply went from point A to
point B (Damn you Sonic 1) that for the time, I had no clue where I was going or what to do
and thus after a few attempts at this for the next few weeks, I stopped playing it
Months went by, new games came out, and I traded it in. It wasn’t until back 2 years
later in 2004 that I picked it up again. With more than a few games on my game
completion belt I was confident at tackling this bad boy once more, and boy did I regret
getting rid of it a couple years back. Everything about the game absolutely blew me away,
from its Atmosphere, to its puzzle like gameplay, it easily rose to my top 3 GameCube
games where it stayed for years. Now every Halloween I make it a tradition to play it from
start to finish, but as I get older, does it still hold up to how it did when it was first
released? (Well if I didn’t have an answer we wouldn’t have a review now would we?)
PLOT: Like most Mario related titles, the plot is relatively simple in order to keep more
focus on the gameplay. However, Miyamoto and his team did decide to change up the
typical plot of “Saving a Princess” for this one.
The story starts out with Luigi receiving a random letter in the mail that he had won
his very own mansion in a contest, which he had not entered. (I assume Luigi is also the
type of guy to fall for the “Give 10 grand to a Nigerian Prince from a far away land” kind of
scam) Luigi excitedly calls up his brother Mario and tells him to meet him at this mansion
so they can celebrate with one another. Luigi then follows the map to the mansion and all
he finds in its wake is an old, broke down mansion and no sign of his brother. (Maybe
Mario got lost because his brother apparently never told him how to get there? Unless he
told him the directions over the phone, anyways) Luigi then decides to take a peek inside
the creepy mansion to look for his brother and see if he’s inside.
Once there he eventually ends up being chased after by ghosts, but is then saved by a
man named “Professor E. Gadd” a scientist who created a weapon to fight off ghosts in the
form of a vacuum cleaner. E. Gadd then tells Luigi that the mansion is an illusion that
appeared out of thin air, and that Mario must have been kidnapped by the creators of the
mansion. E. Gadd, being too old for the job, asks for Luigi’s assistance in cleaning up the
mansion of its ghostly creatures, while also telling Luigi use it to defend himself during his
journey to find the whereabouts of his brother.
After an adventure of fighting off the residents of the mansion, he finds out that it
was none other than King Boo, leader of the ghosts that kidnapped Mario and stored him
away in a painting. (He should be use to this, he jumped into enough paintings in Super
Mario 64) Luigi then fights off King Boo, who is piloting a giant Bowser mech, sucks him
up into his vacuum and rescues Mario. Luigi returns with the painting to E. Gadd, they use
one of E. Gadd’s devices to turn Mario back to normal, and the game ends with Luigi
hysterically crying/laughing as he points at his brother who had a piece of the machine
stuck on his neck.
A little bit more than the average Mario plot, but all the characters in it are fairly
likeable. Luigi’s reactions to the horrifying dark hallways and rooms give him much more
character than Mario in his own games, and E. Gadd as well as all the ghosts all have their
own quirky little personalities that make them unique.
GAMEPLAY: Now here’s what really makes a Mario game important, its gameplay. In the
game you take control of Luigi as you venture through the ghastly mansion trying to
rescue Mario. The game is divided into four overall sections, Area 1, 2, 3 and 4. With each
area ending with a relatively simple boss fight. (A common trend for this game)
Luigi unlike in other Mario titles, cannot jump at all. Thus Luigi is required to
progressthrough the game by collecting keys to open new pathways. Collecting keys is a
relativelysimple task, as they normally either require you to fight off a certain amount of
typicalghosts in a room, or by solving a puzzle through Luigi’s arsenal.
Some rooms however will have you fight one of the mansions residents (A mini boss
of sorts) which will require you to learn their patterns and come to understanding when
they show their weak point. This can range from waiting until a ghost falls asleep, to
following a ghost into a room after lighting their candle, or even taking away all of their
food causing them to get pissed off. (Looking at you Mr. Luggs, annoying fire breathing
lard) Bosses and mini bosses alike a pretty easy, and I never once actually had a game over
from them unless I was just being careless. (With even then the only one to give me a
game over screen was King Boo himself) This isn’t relatively a bad thing though, cause for
one reason or another sucking up ghosts in the game tends to be very satisfying and
causes an adrenaline rush when you finally succeed in catching them.
Some enemies though actually are sort of sub mini bosses, as they are completely
immune to your poltergust at first. This brings in the “elemental” system of the game.
Elements, as broad as their name, are unique power ups you are granted when sucking up
certain ghosts. These ghosts are not considered enemies and can grant Luigi’s poltergust
the abilities of fire, water and ice. With the elements Luigi can fight off certain enemies,
such as ghosts who are made of fire, or ghosts made of ice.
Each element has its strength and weaknesses, and are effective to one another in a
rockscissors paper like fashion.(Pokemon anyone?) Fire beats ice, ice beats water and
water beats fire. Thus when fighting off these type of enemies you want to make sure you
have the right type of element on you.
These same elements are also required to solve puzzles in rooms, and sometimes
they can range from relatively simple solutions to absolute head scratchers (Why did it
take me so long to realize you had to light the candles in the corner of each room, damn
you scenery distracting me.) But it never feels forced and honestly the elements bring a
cute, simple and entertaining concept to the table.
After the first area is nearly completed, you come to also have the option of catching
Boo’s themselves, which are released and scattered into nearly every room in the
mansion. While not all are required, you need to collection at least 45 out of 50 in order to
gain access to the final boss (You do however gain 15 Boo’s from the Boolossus boss fight,
so don’t fret about catching them becoming a chore)
Boo’s appear after clearing a room and being able to gain the key or treasure inside it.
After which you need to use the Game Boy Horror (One of E. Gadd’s gadgets) to find them
in the room with your radar, the concept is simple and you shouldn’t have a problem
finding a Boo’s hiding place unless they randomly decide to change it.
Boo’s themselves are easy to capture as for the most part they work like any other
“ghost capturing” in the game. Albeit they don’t automatically cause a struggle between
you and the ghost, and you must precisely aim on their positon in order to drain their
health. It’s quite enjoyable as all of them have funny little banter to say and all of their
names are based off of “Boo” puns. The only time capturing them comes to be a pain is
when they decide to start fleeing to other rooms and make you run after them, thus slowly
down the process exponentially. (Looking at you cellar room, having to suck up the dust on
the floor to proceed is a real pain) But this only normally happens if you try to tackle the
last five who have much more health than the others.
However the pay out for collecting the optional five rewards you in a gold diamond,
increasing your overall money total. Bringing us into what is probably the most optional
part of the game, the money system. As you go throughout the mansion you’ll find things
from coins on the ground to gold bars in vases. The more money you collect in the game
the more it will tally towards what house Luigi is rewarded at the end of the game.
While this doesn’t change the games ending at all (You will always save Mario and there
will never be a difference whether how much money you collect) it does change the
portrait you receive at the end of the game, and is more of bragging rights as to how much
better you did than your friend, akin to Wario Land’s ranking mechanic.
This part of the game is okay, but honestly there’s no reason to go out of your way for
money unless you’re a completionist and want to go for the best rank possible at the end
of the game. (The same goes for the actual portraits that captured ghost painting are
stored in, as the more health you have at the end of the boss the better the outlining,
bronze, silver, then gold to be exact.)
Saving, while also different from Mario titles is quite simple, as you can either save
after capturing a Boo or by finding one of the few Toads in the household that are spread
throughout the mansion’s areas.
The most important aspect of the whole game however, is it’s non linearity in
comparison to other Mario titles. The whole game really takes cues from the then famous
Resident Evil formula of the first three games and brings it into something that a child can
more easily grasp. (As well as not be scared out of their mind while trying to solve.)
The game doesn’t necessarily hold your hand at any point, and how you solve puzzles
or go after boo’s in particular is generally up to you. Want to find some of Mario’s precious
items in Area 3 so that you can save more time when wanting to fight Madame Clairvoya?
You got it. How about capturing Boo’s along the way so that when you reach Boolossus
you’re more than closer to your required 45 total? Sure, why not? How the game is played
is generally up to you, and the only time the game holds your hand is when it’s pointing
you in the direction of what key works for which door.
This doesn’t mean it’s required to have a guide though by any means, because
newcomers can simply follow the generalized path that the game sets up for them and
thus have a simple way of reaching the end of the game. It’s when you come to master the
game that you realize how much off track you can be and thus bringing the games total
completion time to relatively short playthroughs.
Speaking of, this game can be pretty short if you know exactly what you’re doing, and
even newcomers will find at most their adventure will clock in at 6 hours. While this can
be a turn off for some, I find this to be exactly why the game is so enjoyable. As the fact
that it’s a quick, nonlinear and entertaining adventure always has me coming back to play
the game time and time again to see how much faster I can complete it. The speedrun
aspect of the game is a huge part of it and in my opinion because of it you can always find a
way ofhow to outdo yourself and find new ways to complete the game. That’s the keyword
here, replayability. Luigi’s Mansion always has multiple ways to complete it and thus no
adventure is ever really like the last. Short it may be, but that’s what makes it so fun.
CONTROLS: Thanks to the inclusion of the excellent GameCube controller (Thank you
based Nintendo) Luigi’s Mansions controls are nothing to scoff at. Luigi controls in a
relatively similar fashion to the Remake style controls of Resident Evil REmake. Luigi is
easily capable in moving in full 360 degrees and thus because of it makes it feel like there
never really is a time where his movement to get out of a tight spot when fighting enemies
should be an issue. Luigi’s running speed however can be relatively slow at times and it
can sometimes feel like an eon when having to backtrack somewhere. (Thank you Luigi’s
Mansion Dark Moon for adding faster running speed!) However when progressing
normally through the game it’s barely noticeable, as you come to accept the speed Luigi
The most important aspect of the controls however, is the Poltergust 3000. In
order for Luigi to fight off enemies he must first stun them with his flash light and then
bring them into a “chain” where he can suck them up. This can sound a little scary at first,
as it’s not as simple as say jumping on an enemy as you would in other Mario titles.
However the process is quiet enjoyable for the most part and very simple to pick up. As all
you simply have to do is stun them (which unless you press B, your flash light is always
on) and then suck up the ghosts by pressing R and down on the analog stick at the same
time. In no time the process of these controls grows on you and you’ll start to realize that
they feel almost second nature.
However, while at most times the process is simple enough (E. Gadd even shows you
how to do it at the beginning of the game.) I can’t help but feel there are moments when
the game starts to become “picky” with the window time of stunning/sucking up a ghost,
and I’ll find myself doing what I have been taught to do only for the ghost to keep getting
out of my grasp. Only for me to take a step back, reprocess my thoughts, and hope that
this time around the controls allow this to work.
While it doesn’t happen often, I noticed that it works most finicky when there are
multiple enemies on the screen and the game seems to have an issue processing on which
enemy you are attempting to suck up. A simple yet affective way to fix this however is to
manually direct on what position you want to suck in (As you would do with Boo’s) with
the C stick and this generally fixes the problem.
Luigi also uses the A button for context sensitive situations such as opening doors and
turning latches, but this is really self-explanatory and never should be an issue. Using the
X button also allows you to be able to scan objects on the “Game Boy Horror” to add some
more hints as to where you want to go, as well as being able to solve mirror puzzles. (With
Y showing you a map of the whole mansion and where you are at the moment.)
L allows you the ability to use your elemental abilities, which you can also angle and if
with a quick tap of L allows you to spew out projectile versions of the element. (Though
I’ve never found a good purpose for this aside from the Boolossus fight, as it’s very
unreliable and never precisely accurate.)
The controls for the most part are a solid experience, and aside from it’s rare hiccups
never hinders my experience with the game and makes me want to pull my hair out in
frustration. Quick, clear and concise.
GRAPHICS: Despite being a launch title for the GameCube, in my opinion it holds up to
date and gets across what it’s trying to be while succeeding. From the cartoonish goofy
character models from the creepy landscapes of the mansion. The art styles direction is
perfectly scene and while contrasting the vibrant scenery we’re use to from the Mario
franchise, still keeps the Mario charm through it’s characters. I’ve never experienced any
graphical hiccups and for the most part retains that N64 charm while also showing how
much better graphically the GameCube was in comparison.
MUSIC: Speaking of the soundtrack, there are a few themes in the game that I absolutely
adore from the main theme of the game, to the Game Boy Horror jingle to the fantastic
ending credits.The game certainly has its few that are easily memorable. Aside from those
however, I can’t necessarily say there are others I can hum off a whim or remember very
well. As most of the other music in the game is very atmospheric and downright over-
shadowed by the main theme. Speaking of, I hope you enjoy the main theme, because
you’re going to hear it A LOT in many variations. More than 90% of the game revolves
around this theme in the background and honestly it can come to a point where you simply
forget music is even playing or you’re simply sick of music playing at all. In comparison to
other Mario soundtracks, or even Nintendo soundtracks in general, it has its gems but is
RESET/POWER?: So overall, does Luigi’s Mansion hold up today and does it still shine in
comparison to the GameCube library we were given over the years after its release? In my
opinion, one hundred times yes. From its silly character interactions, to its near perfect
controls to its extremely addicting battle system and it’s entertaining puzzles. Luigi’s
Mansion is a game that thrives in replayability and honestly I come back to it every year
just to see how much more I can learn about it and how to beat it in the quickest times
Throughout the whole GameCube library there are gems, but to me Luigi’s first
real spin off title is one that stands near the top, where it rightfully belongs. With that,
Luigi’s Mansion deserves the RESET. An entertaining game with an entertaining premise,
that while may not reward you in game, makes you feel damn near accomplished when you
realize how much faster you can beat it through every time you tackle it. Nintendo
wouldn’t acknowledge the Luigi’s Mansion franchise once again until more than a decade
later, but the first game always holds a special place in my heart and deserves to be
considered one of the greatest launch titles ever made, and one of the greatest GameCube
titles of all time. – DocJumpman