It’s not the Mario launch title that traditionally accompanies a Nintendo hardware launch, but so what?!? Luigi’s Mansion is lotsa fun in its own right and a fresh, unique game.
The first time I played the NGC demo unit, I almost completely overlooked Luigi. I mean, many have made a big deal about how short the game is so I didn’t want to spoil too much. Moreover, I was way more interested in playing Rogue Leader and Wave Race instead of walking through the early stages of Luigi’s Mansion. Plus, the worst part about the demo of this game is that you have to go through a number of introductory cut-scenes before actually getting to play. With only 20 minutes of play time available before it cuts you off this is a bit of a drag. Again though, this is about the demo version so doesn’t really pertain to the final game. Now, thanks to a very good friend of mine, I have a Cube on loan for a couple weeks, including Luigi’s Mansion. I’ve been playing lots of Luigi and liking it more and more.
Walking around the mansion feels like being in a haunted house. Players won’t be anywhere near as scared as Luigi is, but it is hard to not get a feeling of confusion … In the main room, as I was just getting my bearings, the chandelier started spinning and falling on me. Not scary, but certainly creepy. It’s also quite comical and looks very much like an interactive cartoon.
The ghosts look amazing … and come in all variety of shapes, colors and sizes not to mention the trickier “potrait ghosts.” The ghosts are colorful, and some of the initial orange ones reminded me of Pac-Man ghosts. J Then there’s also Boos, which are hidden and a bit trickier, with a total of 50 to be found. You gotta love the expanded look at supernatural life in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Luigi does not have simple, or intuitive control. It requires some practice but once you get the hang of it—it’s almost second nature. It’s certainly a great introduction to the Nintendo GameCube controller. At E3, it took me a little bit of playing before I could even catch a single ghost. The first time on the kiosk I think I caught two. On another session I was able to do much better, wrangling 2, 3 and even 4 ghosts at a time. Catching ghosts is a lot of fun and very reminiscent to fishing games. Naturally, the different types of ghosts require different strategies and half the fun is figuring out how to bag the ghosts before they get you!
Speaking of control, I really love how the A buttons serves as the “call for Mario button,” especially as Luigi’s tone changes. When he is really weak and/or scared, the cry can get pretty funny. A is also used to tap walls, open doors, investigate or an object. Additionally, by pressing A, you can skip the brief cinema scene of Luigi’s hand timidly twisting and opening doorknobs to each room. These are somewhat cool to watch, particularly Luigi’s trembling hand.
Anyone who claims there is “just one song” in the game is missing a few tunes. Sure, there’s the one underlying main theme music that gets re-worked but there are also other melodies I’ve encountered that provide some diversity. Not much mind you, but it’s certainly not as limited as you might believe.
After progressing through only a couple of rooms, I found Toad again, ready to save my game. With save points so close together, it doesn’t seem like players are going to get very frustrated in their efforts to beat the game. I have gotten stuck a couple times, but it’s never for very long. I’ve only died once or twice, though there are many times I’ve wondered around low on health (which is when I go overboard hitting “A”)… It’s an easy game but highly enjoyable and fun.
Luigi’s Mansion squarely targets the younger demographic - Nintendo’s core audience but also will certainly be appreciated by long time Nintendo fans and is accessible to all ages. It’s short, and I fear I’m already drawing close to the end of the game. There are some great puzzles, and once they are solved, playing again would seem like just going through the motions. Yet, ghost catching is so fun I can easily see myself going through the mansion again at some point. If for no other reason, just to show off what GameCube can do to family and friends.
Above all else, Luigi’s Mansion is great because IT’S ABOUT TIME LUIGI GOT SOME RESPECT!
Well, it is!