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Luigi's Mansion (GC)
Member Name: illogicology
Luigi's Mansion (GC)
Advantages: Luigi takes the reigns, spooky humming, ghosts, vacuum cleaners.
Disadvantages: Bit short, bit easy.
Luigi's Mansion was a launch title for the Gamecube in the way back when of 2001. This was one of the first games I played on my shiny new console (right after Rogue Squadron, I was Star Wars mad back then.) While the game was short, it was a great experience and remains one of my favourite games on the 'cube.
The story is pretty simple but provides for a nice setup. Luigi has won a luxurious mansion in a contest he didn't even enter, arranging to meet Mario there; he arrives in the dead of night and finds the castle infested by ghosts. After being rescued by an old man with a modified vacuum cleaner, Luigi is informed that his prize has only appeared in the last few days and that Mario entered shortly before he arrived but hasn't yet left. The old man, Professor E. Gadd, provides Luigi with his ghost hunting vac, The Poltergust 3000 and a handy "Gameboy Horror" containing detailed maps of the mansion, and off you go to rescue Mario and solve the mystery of the mansion.
The castle is a giant maze of corridors and locked rooms, each room begins in the dark and must be cleared of ghosts before releasing a key to another part of the mansion. Ghosts range from simple, colourful spooks you'll find in every room to troubled spirits that must be appeased or distracted before you suck their souls into your hoover of doom. Each room in the mansion is essentially a small puzzle but part of a larger quest to unlock every room. Fortunately each room is interesting and what begins as a simple ghosthunting game unfolds into quite a varied and intriguing adventure.
Gameplay is original and not the traditional platforming style the series is famous for. Luigi is unable to jump or run, instead he shuffles around with his vac, flashlight at the ready. sucking up the basic baddies is simple, stun them with the flashlight then blast them with the vac. This becomes much more varied later as the game asks more of you before allowing you to suck up more powerful ghosts. You will also upgrade the vac as you move on, allowing you to blow elemental spirits out; burning, freezing or otherwise inconveniencing your foes. While sucking up your enemies can be tricky, it's largely very simple gameplay. The game focuses its difficulty on traversing the mansion and works better for it, I feel. The story moves along at a nice pace and thanks to a seamless joining of cutscene and gameplay, each revelation feels truly like part of your own adventure. The entirety of the game could probably be completed in a day but it feels so tightly designed that it never feels like a waste.
The presentation of the game is absolutely beautiful. Off the bat Nintendo seem determined to show the capabilities of the Gamecube here and some lovely effects are on show. The mansion is beautifully rendered and given a makeover in HD, it would probably still look great now. Luigi himself is probably the most dated element, but then he's wearing big white gloves and a big green hat. The lower polygon count shows up a bit more on these more stylised elements. Some of the most impressive features however are the particle effects and shading techniques. Everywhere he walks, Luigi kicks up realistic plumes of dust and throwing his flashlight around casts shadows and reflection around the room. Times may have moved on but Luigi's Mansion is one of those wonderful games that still seems to look exactly as it was supposed to look.
This is a game that also has a lot of fun with audio. Music here is based around the same theme, a slow comedically spooky piece of music that totally fits a haunted house in a cartoon world. This piece plays in the background for the majority of the game, something that probably should annoy but the music is understated enough to blend in. However, it's not the only music you'll here. As you work deeper into the castle, Luigi will begin to hum along with the music. Lose a bit of health and wander down a dark corridor, Luigi's humming will become distinctly nervous. It's a nice touch that illustrates just how full of character this game is. Every so often, Luigi will also shout out for Mario. He never comes but it's nice to see he cares.
As I mentioned, Luigi's Mansion is not a long game, nor is it a particularly difficult game. It is however, quite fun while being reasonably stimulating for the brain cells. It moves along comfortably with each room being something of its own exhibit. It looks lovely, even by today's standards and is a great title for all members of the family. Also, it's nice to see Luigi taking a starring role. I'm not too fussed for fictional sibling equality, but it puts a nice spin on series conventions and offers a bit of variety. I can firmly recommend this.
As with all gamecube titles, this can be played on a Wii, however it requires a Gamecube controller to play. These aren't hard to come by though.
Summary: Luigi takes the starring role and vacs up a bit.
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