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Luigi's Mansion (import) Package Art
 GENRE
  Adventure
 DEVELOPER
  EAD
 PUBLISHER
  Nintendo
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Luigi's Mansion (import)

What happens when the featured star can’t make it into the new, big production without delaying, or even canceling, the project? Why, the star’s brother is employed, of course. And unlike Sean’s brother Neil Connery in Operation Double 007 or Martin Sheen's brother Joe Estevez in Werewolf, Mario’s brother Luigi in Luigi’s Mansion doesn’t make the audience run for the exit. Quite the opposite, in fact-– Luigi’s starring debut (disregarding Software Toolworks’ Mario is Missing) delivers a dazzling array of cutting-edge GameCube technology in a fun little package accessible to any gamer.

visuals

The graphical highlight of Luigi’s Mansion is the air particle effects. GameCube has no problem rendering hundreds of simultaneous particles ranging from the dust that naturally flies through the air, as seen through the glare of the flashlight, to the shooting of elemental attacks. Further, the ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion are beautifully rendered in bright colors with very impressive alpha transparency. In any given room, there were regularly 3 or 4 ghosts on the screen at a time, with some areas infested with even more, all without noticeably dropping the frame rate.

Nintendo should also be very proud of the fabric effects used on numerous surfaces within the game. Tablecloths, bedspreads, curtains, and posters flap in the air and get sucked into the vacuum; even Luigi’s clothing appears (especially in close-ups) exactly the way real cloth should.

There are very few instances of the old N64-style big, blocky polygons employed to represent objects. Most characters, locales, and items are extremely well rounded, and only a fraction of the time can individual polygons be identified, as is the case with the octagonal flashlight. As such, the rounded surfaces lend, as my colleague Noah pointed out, a very Disney-like feel to the characters. Not that it’s a bad thing, as the mysterious and sometimes downright creepy environment makes up for any ‘cuteness’ factor.

audio

Okay, I’ll admit it. There’s not much for music in this game. During the course of regular gameplay, the same spooky theme song repeats over and over again. Of course, this theme song is in the tried-and-true MIDI format, allowing for any number of instruments to take part and be substituted in and out depending upon the situation. These instruments include an old organ, a piano, a harp, or even Luigi’s own whistling or humming, among others. And when necessary, even complete silence sets the mood properly.

Yes, there are a few good miscellaneous tracks in the game. Music for training mode and level clearings in particular are rather catchy. One could only wish that these types of tracks were used more frequently to break up the static, though there is a secret song or two in the game included especially for old-school gamers like myself.

Sound effects in Luigi’s Mansion are impressive. The team at EAD must’ve either tapped into some extensive sound libraries or gone out and done field recordings, because the way the footsteps, dust billowing, lightning, and cackling crows sound is downright true-to-life. On the other end of the spectrum, the voices of Luigi and Dr. Elvin Gad (Dr. Oya Maa in Japan) are downright comical. As is widely known by now, Luigi cries out Mario’s name in a wide variety of ways each time the A Button is pressed and Luigi is not close to an object. This in and of itself is a huge comedic boon to the game. Dr. E. Gad’s voice utilizes what seems like nothing but a series of Japanese onomatopoeia and the names of Luigi and himself. It’s really quite funny to listen to him blurt out nonsense while reading his in-game advice to The Green One.

gameplay

At E3, Luigi was moved with the C Stick and his aim was adjusted with the Control Stick. If that alone is enough to fry one’s brain, it’s a good thing that EAD listened to reason and made the secondary control option at E3-– inverted analog functions-– the default. But instead of being able to swap the functions of the analog controls on the pause screen, pausing now lets you switch between automatic and manual aiming. That is to say, automatic aiming points the flashlight in whichever direction Luigi walks while manual leaves the aim constant no matter the walking direction. Both are more than suitable for playing the game in light of the insanely difficult previous setting, though most players will take a few minutes to adjust to the twin analog controls.

Yes, there is ghost catching in the game. But as old-school gamers already know, such visceral action elements in games are difficult to put down-– just ask any hardcore fan of Galaga. In this case, the procedure of spinning the flashlight onto the evil specter to reveal its heart and soul, then sucking it into the vacuum, is a bit more complicated than it initially seems. Once players are accustomed to the sometimes lightning-quick actions required, the ghosts’ life tallies go through the roof as they struggle more and more to get away from the pull of Luigi’s device. Giant green ghosts throw banana peels at Luigi to slip him up, long red ghosts will give the younger plumber a bear hug to restrain him and sap his resources, and mini-bosses will often worm their way around objects in the room to escape once their weakness is discovered.

Further, each of the 50 Boos that get released into the mansion early on in the game will hide within an object in each room of the mansion, and the Game Boy Horror’s indicator light pinpoints their exact location in classic hot/cold fashion. If Luigi fails to capture a Boo quickly, it will often flee to the adjacent room and hide in a new place there if not immediately pursued. After each one is caught, Dr. Gad lets Luigi save his game, even though Luigi may be far away from Toad, the character who normally fulfills the duty of saving your game.

At the end of each game world, Dr. Gad presses the captured mini-boss and boss ghosts from the mansion into framed paintings suitable for hanging in the gallery. Once this is done, players’ cumulative scores are displayed based upon how many coins, bills, gold bars, pearls from mini-bosses, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds have been collected from ghost battles and hidden in the various objects within each room. All told, there are 23 ghost paintings to collect.

After completing the game once, a new option is opened up called “Another Mansion,” but there were no noticeable changes in the game save for a slightly different ending. Be warned: winning the game will save progress on the file at the very beginning of the 2nd quest, so it’s best to save off a copy before going to fight the boss of the game. And no, I’m not going to say who or what that is. It's a secret to everyone.

multiplayer

Perhaps Mario Sunshine will offer multiplayer, but Luigi’s solo effort is just that: solo.

overall

Many doubters of this title immediately point to the game’s alleged lack of depth or short time of completion without having ever laid hands on a GameCube controller. Having played through the mansion twice now, I can safely say that these fears-– while not unwarranted-– shouldn’t deter anyone from experiencing this latest EAD title. My first time through the game reading the Japanese screen text, I spent roughly 6 to 8 hours playing before saving Mario. Knowing what I was doing the 2nd time around, the game took approximately 5 hours to complete.

While some may consider such a game length purely rental material, there are more than enough Easter Eggs and one-time-only ‘money ghosts’ present to find value during replay in pursuit of a new high score. Why, back in my day, games would last for all of 3 hours, and we liked them that way! No questions asked; Luigi’s Mansion is a purely fun experience and a great first outing for the Nintendo GameCube.

final score 8.75/10





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Staff Avatar Nathan Heckel
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"Where's Dr. Wiley?...
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