Halloween is upon us, and it's truly a great time to be a gamer. With so many scary titles available on every platform, we're bound to find something creepy to play in the dark as people in costumes roam the streets, knocking on doors and asking for some candy. In order to get in the festive Halloween mood, I decided to play a truly terrifying game. I went back through my vault of games and selected something that I had only played briefly before because I was too scared to complete it. I dug up my old copy of Luigi's Mansion and prepared myself for a truly bone-chilling experience.
OK, so what's up with this game? It's not scary at all! Here I was thinking I was going to get a creepy title to spend my time with before Halloween. Sadly, I didn't get the terrifying experience I had hoped for. But on the bright side, I managed to finally get through Luigi's Mansion. Anyway, as we've already established, the game's not scary. But is it any good?
I was always amused by Luigi's Wallace and Gromit-like appearance.
The first thing that caught my attention upon watching the opening cutscene in Luigi's Mansion was just how great the game looks. Sure, this is a GameCube launch title that shows its age, but heck, it still looks pretty darn good. Seriously, with the exception of a few rough textures and some obvious blockiness, Luigi's Mansion doesn't look half bad. The dark environments, appropriate use of color, neat lighting effects,and cartoon-like design of the levels all combine to create some really pleasing eye candy.
As previously mentioned, I never passed Luigi's Mansion when I first got it. I received it as a Christmas present and got to the first boss, but then Super Mario Strikers distracted me terribly, and Luigi's Mansion was confined to staying in my shelf of games for the next several years. Thankfully, I decided to bring it out and play through it in its entirety in honor of Halloween. I'm glad I did, too, because my experience with the game was a mostly positive one.
You'd think Nintendo would jump at the chance of making a Luigi platformer, but back in 2001, this was not the case. Instead, the Big N decided on an action-adventure game with challenging puzzles and a cool battle system. Luigi's won a mansion for no reason, and it's packed with ghosts. Because you can't really brawl it out with ghosts (and even if you could, Luigi wouldn't want to), you're given a neat vacuum cleaner dubbed the Poltergust 3000. Aside from the clever name, the vacuum cleaner manages to provide Luigi with a weapon suited for defeating ghosts.
Obviously, you use the Poltergust 3000 to suck up ghosts and add them to your collection. But it's not just vacuuming–it's precision. As you attempt to suck ghosts, the denizens of the afterlife try to fight it by scrambling away from you. It's your job to move the control stick in the opposite direction of the ghosts. Sometimes they'll briefly get away from you, other times they'll hurt you. What makes this gameplay mechanic so amusing is just how hectic it can get when ghosts start flying wildly about, causing you to constantly move the control stick all over the place just to snag them.
Luigi's Mansion takes place within the confines of the titular hero's awarded dwelling, and this comes with some pros as well as some cons. For starters, the vibe of the game is brilliant. The mansion looks awesome, there's some incredible art design, and it's a great concept. Unfortunately, however, Nintendo seemed to think it would be a good idea to make players backtrack frequently. At first, this isn't a problem, but when you keep returning to the same area repeatedly, it can get a bit tiresome. Back in 2001, this was OK, but in 2011, I certainly don't want to be visiting areas I've already been to so many times.
Another issue I had was with the ambiguity of some of the game's objectives. A lot of the puzzles in Luigi's Mansion are really cool, but oftentimes, I thought the game was forcing me to figure out what to do next with nary a clue. I like figuring things out by myself, but when a game does very little to at least steer me in the right direction, I find it a bit perplexing and even a little annoying. Again, this type of obscurity may have been easy to swallow 10 years ago, but these days, gamers won't stand for it.
Luigi is a total creeper.
All things considered, Luigi's Mansion is a fun little romp through an awesome haunted house. The game looks and sounds great (Luigi's humming is unforgettable), and it plays really well for the most part. While I was a bit frustrated when I found myself backtracking more than I'd like and trying to figure out what the heck to do next in certain rooms, I had a really good time playing Luigi's Mansion. And because this is such a short game at about five hours, I have to admit I was pretty saddened when I reached the end.
Whether you want something fun to play during Halloween, or want to get prepared for the upcoming Luigi's Mansion 2 on the 3DS, Luigi's Mansion is a solid choice if you haven't already played it. Dig up your GameCube, find a used copy of this game, and enjoy. It's not perfect, and time has certainly aged some of its rougher elements, but it's still a lot of fun from start to finish.
The verdict: There are some glaring rough spots, but Luigi's Mansion holds up well for the most part.