As I write this review, I've had one of the first U.S. GameCube consoles for a couple of weeks, and feel like I'm at the dawn of a new age in videogaming. This actually marks the first time I've gotten to have unlimited access to a console before its release, and given the launch of the GameCube and Xbox, I'm almost sick of videogames.
But through all of this, I've found a few gems among the plethora that will be finding their way onto store shelves, and one of them is LUIGI'S MANSION.
I've always wanted Luigi to get his own game. The taller and greener of the Mario Brothers has been given the shaft by Mr. Miyamoto for far too long. Sure he's had some cameos, but this is really his first big game. Now Mario is in trouble and Luigi has to play Ghostbuster to save him. Ironically, when I was just a wee lad with an NES, I dressed up as Luigi for Halloween and went out amongst a whole crowd of ghosts and ghouls. Little did I know then that I would play this role again as a journalist.
The game gets underway with Luigi venturing into his newly "won" mansion. But it appears that this mansion is haunted and that Mario has been lost somewhere inside. After stumbling upon an eccentric professor, Luigi is bestowed a vacuum cleaner to suck the ghosts up with. The green warrior must now venture deep into the heart of the mansion to save his brother.
Most of the action involves sucking up weak ghosts (a simple flick of the flashlight is enough to stun them), and then figuring out how to stun a big ghost so that you can suck it up. The big ghosts require some puzzle solving skills to finish off. For instance, one ghost requires you to play all of the musical instruments in the room, and another to pull a curtain back to expose a draft.
As you capture more ghosts, you get keys that allow you to unlock doors and advance further. You'll also have to root out boos that can be a big pain to catch. To add further depth, medallions allow you to suck elements such as fire and water up and use them against ghosts. This all adds up to quite a few different combinations and situations for Luigi to figure out.
But the game is too short. It didn't take me too long to make it through, and while I'm somewhat of an expert at puzzle games, I doubt many will have problems with LUIGI'S MANSION. Another bad point is that the control is sometimes inadequate for the situations presented. It's manageable, but frustrating.
The mansion is beautiful. From the vacuum cleaner sucking up dust and objects such as tablecloths, to the mirrors and lighting effects, LUIGI'S MANSION is very impressive. Another area in which the game excels is the animation. Ghosts come at Luigi and his reactions are perfect.
The music and sound effects are great and are filled with Nintendo's personality. The music is typical Nintendo, and flows perfectly with the game. Sound effects such as the vacuum cleaner and the ghosts are well handled. One of my favorites is when Luigi calls out for Mario. "M-m-m-m-m-marrrrioo?" If Luigi happens to eat a poison mushroom, he'll screech out "Mario?" in a tiny voice.
LUIGI'S MANSION definitely isn't the new Mario game. But it stands on its own as an excellent title. The small touches and innovative gameplay make it a must-buy for GameCube owners and anyone who likes Luigi.
ESBR Rating: Everyone
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A
Reviewer's Wild Card: A+