Check out the full review of Miyamoto's GameCube launch title! Is sucking up ghosts all that it's cracked up to be?
Luigi Mansion Import Review
Miyamoto's big launch game for GameCube was surprisingly not a Mario game, but a Luigi game. Yes, I was a bit disappointed, but after playing what I did at E3 and Spaceworld, I was seriously looking forward to getting my hands on the final product. It's not what you'd expect from Nintendo, but that's what partially makes Nintendo, well…Nintendo. Is Luigi's Mansion another Miyamoto masterpiece? For what it's worth…yes and no.
The gameplay is very straight forward even for the language being mostly in Japanese. You must rid the mansion of the ghosts and rescue Mario, who has been kidnapped by an unknown force. There are a couple different types of ghosts that you'll have to deal with that range in difficulty. There are your more basic ghosts that you'll have to avoid with their different attacks and then shine your flashlight on them… then sucking them down with the vacuum cleaner. Then there would be your "puzzle type" ghosts where you'll have to perform some action (or wait), move something, or activate something to make the ghost vulnerable to your attack. These nicely varied ghosts kept my interest. I mean, it was actually nice not to have to do 8 million different things in a game to accomplish the same thing… get a key. These ghosts were challenging enough to keep me coming back for more. Then, of course, there are the bosses, which there are sadly too few of to be found. But to make up for that, they are a lot of fun. The only one that caused me any real difficulty was the final boss, who was one of the best bosses I've encountered in a long time.
Nintendo doesn't just have one hardware demo game like Wave Race this time around. Luigi's Mansion is yet another game that really shows off the graphical prowess of the GameCube. I've had more people come up to me while I've played this game and say, "that looks like a real cartoon." It does, but I think it looks better. I hate to compare it to any other game in a review, but I will say this: Luigi's Mansion, hands down, is the most beautiful GameCube game to come out of the GameCube launch. It may look cute, but it's creepy. The textures, colors, shadows, transparencies, everything…it all meshes together to make Luigi's Mansion truly come to life. The mansion itself has many beautiful rooms. I never would have thought that I'd be excited about curtains in a video game, but yes, down to the curtains Luigi's Mansion is that detailed. There were some minor graphical glitches, and some weird pop-ups that I would see from time to time. Once in a while Luigi's hat would do some strange disappearing act, though I only saw this twice. It's minor, but worth noting.
The visuals are great, but it's the sound that really make the graphics seem more alive. I don't have the most incredible speakers on the planet (they are aged a bit like me), but I do have a surround receiver. I played about an hour into the game without even knowing how to turn on surround sound, and it still sounded fantastic. You'll hear everything crystal clear from the creak of the floor under Luigi's feet, to the keys rattling in Luigi's nervous hands. Once I turned on the surround it was even better. You'll hear ghosts sneaking up behind you. It's a creepy effect, but wonderful. I mean it's so hard for this game to be scary cause it's cute…but it's filled with eeriness. Not to forget the voices, humming and whistling coming from Luigi himself. The changes in his confidence are relayed in his voice. Another fantastic touch.
If there's one other thing I think Luigi's Mansion is meant to do outside of show off the GameCube hardware, it's to get you familiar with the controller. Luigi's Mansion is the only game that really fully utilizes the GameCube controller in every aspect. Master the controller, and you will master Luigi's Mansion. I think that was the toughest problem I had with this game outside of the language barrier, having to get the dual stick actions down. I don't know if it's my coordination skills or lack of PS titles that I've played, but I really had a hard time with that. After my bout through the first floor of the mansion, I'd become fully acclimated with the GameCube controller. The controls, while awkward at first, became second nature after some solid game time. Nabbing 2-3 ghosts in one zap became possible. I tackled the controller, and now I've beaten Luigi's Mansion.
Well, it has come and gone. Less than a week after I had my hands on Luigi's Mansion it's been completed. That's my biggest disappointment with this game. It took me 10-15 hours to beat Luigi's Mansion. If I was used to the controller, and this was in English I would have beaten the game in about 7-8 hours. For a Miyamoto launch title that is utterly pathetic. Sure this isn't Mario, but, for example…the training mode in Advance Wars on the GBA alone takes about 7 hours. That's the TRAINING MODE! That and the title is about half the price of Luigi's Mansion. I could go back and play the expert mode all over again, and actually probably will, but I'll probably beat it quicker. Granted, in Japan there were only 3 launch titles, but in North America it's going to be much more. Money will be spent wisely by most people at the launch of the GameCube. Luigi is going to sell no matter what. Don't get me wrong, I loved this game…but I blinked, and it was over. Unless you are dying for Luigi's Mansion, I would suggest you rent it for the weekend and give it a whirl. 50 bucks for 10 hours of possible gameplay is really difficult for me to suggest. Sure it's a Shigeru Miyamoto game, but it's a lot of money to pay for such a short game…no matter how good it is.