Review: Luigis Mansion

Nintendo consoles have always launched with a Mario game. The NES had Super Mario Bros., the SNES had Super Mario World and the N64 had Super Mario 64. Even the GBA had Mario Advance. Deemed more well-known than Mickey Mouse, the chubby, lovable plumber has always been there for Nintendo at a new consoles launch and so true to form, with GameCube's launch comes the latest Mario adventure. Oh wait, did I say Mario?...

Luigi's Mansion has the lesser-known, lankier brother take the starring role this time, and barring the god-awful Mario is Missing, this is the green mans solo debut. So a normal round of platforming then? Nope. You see, Luigi's has won a mansion and after telling Mario to meet him there, he gets there to discover Mario is missing (no pun intended). So he sets out on a quest to rid the mansion of the pesky ghosts that have captured Mario, aided by the Pultergust 3000, a, ahem, Hoover. It may be a Mario Bros. game, but not the kind we're all used to...


Being one of Nintendo's first-party games at the launch of a new console, you'd expect Luigi's Mansion to sport some pretty impressive visuals. And you'd be right. After only a few minutes of play, you can see that Nintendo shine off it all. Because of the dark, dusty mansion, Luigi's torch comes in quite handy, and shows off some lovely lighting effects. Swinging the torch around the round sees the furniture and the rooms occupants cast shadows, each changing direction and strength according to how you wield your torch. Lightning flashes outside the mansion illuminate the rooms for a split-second, sending shadows dancing across the walls before returning to darkness. Sometimes you'll even have to use the lighting to your advantage, when invisible ghosts can only be captured the using its shadows to pinpoint its position. But lighting effects aren't just limited to actual light sources, even the little things like keys, coins and fire and ice from your Hoover give their own sparkly glow, ensuring everything is eye-pleasing.

One of the highpoints of Luigi's Mansion has got to be the superb animation throughout, rivalling even the likes of Disney. When a ghost suddenly appears, you'll see the shock and fear on Luigi's face. In fact, the plumbers face never stays still, eyes and mouth widen with fear or a broad grin stretches across when you get a key. Seeing Luigi getting dragged across the floor while sucking up a stubborn ghost, doing Mario's patented V-sign with his fingers after capturing one or putting out the fire on his behind with his cap for the first time will actually make you laugh. But superb animation isn't just limited to the plumber himself, ghosts frantically scramble away when you're sucking them up before stretching as they're getting sucked in, everything just seems alive, actually giving the game character missing from many games these days.

Being based entirely within a single mansion, you'd expect things to get pretty similar soon, with room after room of the same thing. Shame on you! Like Nintendo would ever do anything like that! Every room has its own appeal and each is lavished with such detail you'll be itching to check everything out. Furniture like chairs, tables, wardrobes and chandeliers look both solid and stunning, showing what can be pulled of when developers simply take time to add detail. It may not sound like much, but when you're seeing room after room you'll be glad of the eye-candy, keeping things interesting. Things like tablecloths, towels and curtains have an impressive rippling effect when being sucked up, stretching as you pull back and being ripped off. Little things like this go towards making everything more realistic, though not in the traditional the-more-polygons-the-better sense, but in Nintendo's own sense.

Throughout the whole game, the graphics don't disappoint. Everything has a solid and polished look, with a host of impressive graphical effects. Little things like water, fire, ice and the transparency effects of the ghosts look delightful as well as the important things like animation, lighting and attention to detail. The dark, dusty look of the game is as good as the colourful look of previous Mario games and has even attracted criticism for it being merely a "technical demo". And even though it's not, it certainly does look it.


As you would expect from any game starring a Nintendo plumber, the audio side is wholly likable. The tune that runs along Luigi's as he goes through the mansion is instantly memorable; you'll be humming it wherever you go without even knowing it. The same tune is always playing but depending on where you are and what is going on, it could be slower, faster, or played by a different instrument. Thankfully, it's never altered so much that you don't recognise it, and so little that it becomes repetitive. In a lovely little touch, Luigi hums the tune when the lights are on, and whistles it when they're off. Apart from the main tune, there are also some nice sound effects, like the sound ghosts make when they appear and when Luigi calls for Mario. As he gets more frightened it becomes a longer and stuttered "Mmmaaarrrrioooo". There isn't much else to the sound though, so there isn't much else I can write.


OK, here's the story so far: Luigi has won a mansion in a competition that he, mysteriously, didn't enter. He tells Mario to meet him there but gets lost on the way in a forest, making him late. By the time he gets there Mario is nowhere to be seen and he soon realises that Mario has been taken prisoner by a group of ghosts that haunt the mansion. To help him in his quest to rescue Mario, a ghosthunter named Professor E. Gadd equips Luigi with the "Poltergust 3000", a ghost-sucking Hoover, gives him a bit of training and sends him off to clear the mansion of those pesky poltergeists and get his brother back.

Unusually, the game isn't a free-roaming 3D adventure as we're all used to. The camera is fixed in a side-ish view, and to avoid things like walls, furniture and the like getting in the way of the camera Nintendo have added a neat little trick. Whenever Luigi steps behind, say, a wall it goes transparent and the camera moves "through" it. The game takes place almost entirely inside the mansion, with only a few short moments outside its walls. You must travel through corridors and rooms from the basement to the loft, sucking up all the ghosts. Luigi is armed only with his Hoover, torch and a Game Boy Horror. The Hoover can be upgraded with fire, water and ice capabilities, allowing you to defeat certain ghosts and complete certain puzzles. Your aply-named Game Boy Horror can give you clues about certain things in a room, can display maps and your status and serves as a aid in tracking down those elusive Boos. The little light on it is blue when you are "cold" and bleeps faster and gets redder as you get "warmer". It's an enjoyable little game of hide and seek really.

The basics of defeating a ghost involve using your torch to stun them for a quick second so their heart shows and then sucking them up, depleting their life force, with your Poltergust 3000. When you've sucked up all the ghosts in a room, the lights come on and more times than not, a chest with a key to the next room will appear. And then you move on to the next room. While this may sound repetitive in theory, it is kept fresh by the variety on offer. Firstly, it isn't just a case of pointing and sucking with your Hoover. There are several different types of ghosts, and each must be treated differently. You've got your garden variety ghosts that don't put up much of a fight, ghosts who chuck banana skins at you to make you slip, ghosts that throw bombs at you, ghosts that grab you, ghosts who pound the ground, and even masked shy guy ghosts. And then there are the Boos which inhabit rooms with the light on and aren't as "suckable" as normal ghosts, with life forces up to even 300. The environment doesn't limit these Boos though, they can escape from you through walls, floors and the ceiling. This results in an enjoyable chase around the different floors and rooms of the mansion.

But the most fun is to be had with the mini-boss ghosts, or "portrait ghosts". These are individual ghosts who require some thought to figure out how to defeat them. There are 50 in total, each very different. In order to get them to show their heart you usually have to interact with the room, from opening a curtain to create a draft, to sucking up and blowing billiard balls, to playing hide and seek in boxes. Figuring out how to defeat the portrait ghosts and successfully pulling it off gives you a nice feeling of accomplishment, as well as it being damn fun. To progress in the game you'll have to do more than just sucking up ghosts though, as there are more than a few puzzle elements in the game. Granted, there's nothing too taxing, but you will need your thinking cap on. Whether it's just lighting all the candles in a room to allow you to get into the next room, noticing a secret hidden button in the mirror or figuring out exactly what to do next, it is nice to have to think a little now and then.

Because the entire game takes place inside the mansion, with few exceptions, Nintendo have strived to make each room as different as the last. One may see you battling an Eskimo ghost in a freezing, frozen room and the next trying to defeat a ghost hiding in different pots. The richness in variety in the game makes it an absolute joy to play, undoubtedly helped by the intuitive controls. The original and simple gameplay of the game makes it so fun to play; you'll be brimming with excitement the whole way through. So by now you'll be thinking Luigi's mansion is almost perfect; great graphics, great sounds, original and fun gameplay. But there is a flaw, a huge flaw in fact.

You see, Luigi's Mansion is short . Very, very short. It should only take you around 8 or 10 hours to complete the game for the first time, with all portrait ghosts and Boos. There are incentives to go back though, in the form of a grade for your money collected through the game, a slightly upgraded Hoover and a mirrored mansion. But even these can't save it from longetivity hell; each time you play you'll complete it in a faster time making game length shorter and shorter. The replay value is sky-high though, so you'll always go back, but you'll be trekking through covered ground. But that is the only fault with the gameplay, which is fresh, original and highly enjoyable.


Like Mario 64 before it, Luigi's Mansion is the game the controller was built for. The positioning of the two sticks allows for easy movement of Luigi and his torch/Hoover at the same time, something which comes in very handy. The analogue shoulder buttons just feel right, with the strength and sound of the Hoover increasing convincingly the further you press them down. The Game Boy Horror is easy to access with the X, Y and Z buttons. The position of them on the controller works to their advantage, as you'll be using X and Y a lot more than Z. These intuitive controls make sure that you'll be fully used to them 2 minutes into the game.


B: Flashlight
X: GBH camera
Y:GBH map
L: Hoover - Blow
R: Hoover - Suck
Z:GBH status
C-Stick: Aim
D-Pad: -
Control Stick: Move Luigi

Final Say:

Though it is a superb game, it is hard to recommend you to buy Luigi's Mansion. The graphics are top-notch, the sound is catchy and simply lovable, the controls are delightful and the gameplay is original and just so much fun. But the whole thing is dragged down by the frighteningly short game time, reminding you that this was meant only as a filler between Mario 64 and Sunshine and not the next Mario Bros. game. Once again, Nintendo are on top form, Luigi's Mansion delivers like few other games and is sprinkled with that typical Nintendo magic. Even though I can't really recommend a purchase, you have to play it sometime. Rent it, borrow from a mate, just make sure you get a chance to sample one of GameCube's best games yet and you'll be smiling the whole way through it. Just don't expect that to be too long.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Luigi's Mansion is just one of those games that you`ll never forget, you`ll love the whole experience.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability5
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Highly original
Bursting with character
Genuinely enjoyable
Utterly memorable


Too short

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