(GameCube)

Luigi's Mansion (GameCube)

Game Review

Luigi's Mansion Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jacob Crites

It's-a me! Mari- wait, what? Luigi?

Nintendo has always had a dark side. Though it's built up a name for itself as a family-friendly game company, every so often, when it can be contained no longer, its dark side manifests itself in the form of a Super Metroid or a Majora's Mask. But while we expect a touch of gloom and misery in our Zeldas and Metroids, it may strike you as more than a bit curious that one of Nintendo's darkest adventures stars a platforming hero who had previously been known for some of the happiest, most family-friendly games on earth.

But then, nearly every aspect of Luigi's Mansion is bound to strike many as more than a bit curious. Nintendo had launched each of its three previous consoles with a bright and colourful Mario platformer, yet for the GameCube, the company chose a dark, atmospheric title starring the mascot's lesser-known brother. Not only that, but Luigi's Mansion was about as far from a traditional Mario game as it could possibly get – so much so that it didn't even feature a jump button.

Perhaps it's for these reasons that Luigi's Mansion never got the recognition for which Nintendo had hoped. It simply wasn't the game that people were expecting. It's a shame, really, because in actuality it's quite a remarkable little title. Luigi's Mansion is a unique and atmospheric experience that's as fun as it is technologically impressive.

The premise is a simple one: Luigi has won a mansion in a contest... except he doesn't remember entering any contest. To see what the deal is, he heads out to check out the mansion for himself. Once inside, he is almost immediately confronted by a gang of disgruntled ghosts; thankfully, the notorious Professor E. Gadd (creator of such classic commodities as F.L.U.D.D. and the Portraitificationizer) comes to your aid with one of his latest inventions. He explains to Luigi that his brother, Mario, is being held captive inside of the mansion. Naturally, Luigi must find a way to save him.

In addition to your trusty flashlight, the Professor equips you with two of his cleverest inventions to survive the haunted abode – the Game Boy Horror (GBH) and the Poltergust 3000. The former – which is quite literally a Game Boy Color with a more groan-inducing name – might be likened to the Scanning Visor in Metroid Prime. The GBH screen is sort of like a window, and pressing the X button lets you look through it and examine your surroundings. This item becomes useful as you encounter some of the game's trickier bosses, as it allows you to scan them and get insight into their possible weak points.

However, the focus of attention is undoubtedly on The Poltergust 3000, which serves as both an incredibly fun gameplay mechanic and a technological showcase for the at-the-time revolutionary game engine. When used in tandem with the flashlight, the vacuum-like device is simply a way of sucking up the ghastly inhabitants – first shine your light on the ghost to catch it off guard, then quickly suck it up using the R button and Control Stick. However, it quickly reveals itself to be much more than that. The GameCube's pressure-sensitive trigger buttons were quite cutting-edge when the system launched, and Luigi's Mansion was one of the first titles to showcase their use. Being able to precisely control the airflow of the Poltergust sets the groundwork for some pretty neat boss fights and puzzles, and this, in conjunction with the game's still-impressive physics engine, makes interacting with the environment a real joy. The way in which your vacuum is able to affect things like table cloths, shelves, beach-balls and carpeting is still really cool even today, and goes a long way in pulling the player into the game. Interacting with the environment doesn't go unrewarded, either – exploring every nook and cranny to find cash, pearls and gold bars is addictive and gives the game a unique high score twist that not many 3D adventure games have.

Structurally, Luigi's Mansion is about as far-removed from a Mario game that you could get – in fact, the closest thing you could compare it to is dungeon-crawling in The Legend of Zelda. Gone are the spacious and whimsical environments of Mario 64 — instead you're given one ill-lit, claustrophobic and creepy mansion that you must explore room by room. Upon entering one, you're greeted with darkness; darkness, that is, and the haunting giggles of hidden ghosts. One by one these will reveal themselves, and it's your job to suck them up. Clearing all of them in a given room will cause the lights to come on and, more often than not, a treasure chest to appear. Nine times out of ten these will contain keys that allow you to access some previously impassable door, and round-and-round the formula goes. It would run the risk of being overly repetitive if the core gameplay mechanics weren't so much fun, but thankfully the odd satisfaction of seeing Luigi getting yanked around the room by unruly ghosts never gets old; and the game's knack for creating a mood means exploring a new room is always an exciting experience.

This being a launch title and all, it's not surprising that Luigi's Mansion isn't the prettiest GameCube game, but what it lacks in pixels, it makes up for with artistic flair and technological impressiveness. In addition to aforementioned physics engine and great use of the controller, Luigi's Mansion was also a pioneer in realistic lighting effects. The flashlight was an immediate stunner, and its effect still manages to impress after other flashlight-driven games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories have driven the concept further. But one of the most consistently enjoyable aspects of the game is how much work went into turning Luigi from Mario's bland pallet-swap into a hilarious and lovable individual with a distinct personality. Simply put, the character animations in this game are astounding: the way Luigi's hand trembles as he opens a new door, or how his teeth chatter as he walks down a darkened hallway. He flattens into a thin sheet of paper when something falls on him, he stretches and expands when screaming with fear — with care and detail, Nintendo turned a once pointless character into one as expressive and malleable as something out of a Bob Clampett cartoon.

Furthermore, Luigi's Mansion's use of sound is still some of the cleverest you'll hear in a video game. There's essentially only one theme here, but it's amazing how much mileage Nintendo gets out of it. Sometimes it plays hauntingly in the background. Sometimes, in the creepiest and quietest of rooms, Luigi will whistle and hum it nervously to himself, as if to keep his mind off of the ominous danger at hand. In rooms with sneaky ghosts that refuse to show themselves, if you listen carefully, you can hear them cackling the tune to get a better idea of where they are. Genius.

Conclusion

What Luigi's Mansion lacks in content and longevity, it makes up for with a remarkably well-crafted and unique single campaign that will keep you consistently entertained from front to back. It's not quite on the same level as Mario's better outings, but the game is so entirely different from anything Mario has ever starred in that it feels almost unjust to compare them; and, really, it's this complete departure from the Mario formula that makes the game so successful in the first place. The gameplay design is so uncommon that it's pretty difficult to slap a genre label on it, but suffice to say that if you consider yourself a gamer, you owe it to yourself to give this one a shot.

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User Comments (98)

erv

#3

erv said:

This game kicked off a brilliant gaming era that was the gamecube for me. It's got so much style :D

Bobpie

#5

Bobpie said:

@skywake
Hey, that could work.....
whatever happened to those reports of a possible luigi's mansion 2?
...hmm, though nl seemed to assume so, this site doesn't seem to say anything about it having to be a wii sequel./...

edhe

#6

edhe said:

This is a brilliant game, and I SOLD it for £2 to a friend.

I always had trouble with the King Boo boss, and even after completing the game a few times, I always had the highest bankroll to aim for. (those golden mice were elusive!)

Objection

#7

Objection said:

@bobpie-Hmm? The articles have the same point. Plus the second links to it under its xbox 360 version so I wonder how reputable they are.

Luigi's Mansion is a classic and underrated in my opinion. Like many other gems, its quality is hotly debated by other Nintendo fans, but I've played it through more than nearly any other Mario game.

Link79

#9

Link79 said:

Who ya gonna call? Ghostbus.... Uh I mean Luigi.

Great game. Sadly underrated gem from Gamecubes launch. I bought it on day one and still play it every once in a while. Sure it's short but so many games are and they still manage to be a ton of fun. This was Luigi's big moment after so many years of being treated like the side kick.

Tails

#11

Tails said:

Great game. Will one day review it on my channel. Otherwise very nice review sir. :)

Bass_X0

#12

Bass_X0 said:

I didn't really understand the controls for this at the time. I didn't get too far before giving up.

Sneaker13

#13

Sneaker13 said:

I absolutely love this game. It still looks great and is a lot of fun to play. Would be a great fit wor the Wii, or maybe they will make a sequel. I would really like that.

Chozo85

#15

Chozo85 said:

I really enjoyed this game. It may have been short but it was original, a quality lacking from most games nowadays. I haven't played anything else like it before or since.

WaveBoy

#17

WaveBoy said:

Favorite GCN game period! I remember when they were demoing The GameCube with Luigi's Mansion along with Wave Race and Rogue Leader II a month or so before the consoles release down at the mall and I was blown away by Luigi's Mansions graphics. The same goes for Rogue Leader II. Anyways Luigi's mansion is short but sweet, but what is there is brilliant!

HanuKwanzMasBif

#19

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

@skywake I read in a Nintendo Power interview that Nintendo did actually once try putting a 3D panel on the GameCube (no, I don't know how that works) to see how Luigi's Mansion would run in 3D.

BlakestationoneStaff

#20

Blakestationone said:

My my does this review make me want to play Luigi's Mansion again. Might just fire it up later today.

wes008

#21

wes008 said:

I had this game when I was little. I got really far into it, but it freaked me out for some reason. I sold it to gamestop. A week later I looked back on what a great game it was and how I actually enjoyed the late night chills imagining the Wandering Butler chasing me down the halls. I might need to buy it again :) I was kinda waiting for a NPC! release though.

NintyMan

#22

NintyMan said:

A great game that really should be appreciated more. Reading this review makes me want to play it again. It's funny that this was the game where Luigi got the personatlity we know today. Before that he was basically a green-colored Mario. Here's hoping they make a sequel for the 3DS. The NP interview with Hideki Konno pretty much showed it'll likely happen anyway.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#23

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Hmmm, this site seems to have re-reviewed the game afteronly giving it a 6 or 7! A great game. One of the 5 Gamcube games I kept for a long while even after trading in my GC and the other GC games.

TKOWL

#24

TKOWL said:

I'm playing through it for the first time. Boy am I terrible at it :P

Spoony_Tech

#26

Spoony_Tech said:

This game was a true gem. One of my favorite games period. It to me was just polished from beginning to the end and just think of the possibilities on the 3DS then alone the Wii. Please Nintendo don't let this one die for as long as Kid Icarus did!!!

WanderFan91

#29

WanderFan91 said:

Good review, Kid_A. :) This was the fifth game I got for the GameCube. I haven't played it in years (and I haven't beaten it yet). I should try Luigi's Mansion again one of these days.

Hokori

#30

Hokori said:

Now thats better, I remember the old review of this game was a 6/10 on here, and was like ??? at least an 8, now we got an accurate review.

Now we need an accurate one for MGS TTS.

YoshiSage

#31

YoshiSage said:

Good god, I hated this game. It was kind of humorous, but it was just so BLAND, and the only things giving the game any life were the ghosts with all their colors. It was laughably easy and could be beaten in a single day. Controls were rather awkward, and it was completely devoid of a soul, from start to finish. The only thing even mildly entertaining was the last boss. (Well, that, and the one-liners that came from the Boos were kind of funny.) Oh, and hunting for Boos was incredibly frustrating, because they could go through a wall and then you'd have no clue where they went. The ghosts were kind of fun to look at, but otherwise a broken game.

DarkLloyd

#33

DarkLloyd said:

ah i remeber the days when i got this and the zelda collection with the gamecube for christmas, ahhhh good times gooood times

i'll give it a go after i beat these following games for my halloween marathon

Resident Evil zero
resident evil gamecube remake
resident evil 2
resident evil 3
resident evil code veronica
resident evil 4
resident evil 5
resident evil umbrella chronicles
resident evil darkside chronicles
Eternal Darkness
and so much more :P

SilverBaretta

#35

SilverBaretta said:

A truly underrated Gamecube great. Between it's great atmosphere, it's tight controls (which admittedly took until the 2nd Act to truly get used to), incredibly addicting gameplay, and it's fleshing out of a character we originally didn't think a lot about, Luigi's Mansion is one of my favorites and will probably always will be worth just one more playthrough every time it's finished.

BlueKirby

#36

BlueKirby said:

I got it for 5$ at EB Games and could never get past boolusus, the boo of thirty boos.

Kid_A

#38

Kid_A said:

Glad to see some love for this game, here. I'll always be flabbergasted at all the negative reviews upon its release. Granted, it was a strange choice for a launch title, especially considering how niche it is (not exactly the appeals-to-everyone type game that Super Mario Bros, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64 and Wii Sports were) but it's just...so...good!

grumblebuzzz

#39

grumblebuzzz said:

I love Luigi's Mansion and would love to see a sequel on 3DS. As a matter of fact, I love the game so much that I've already come up with a scenario that fuels the story for Luigi's Mansion 2. ;)

ArmoredGoomba

#40

ArmoredGoomba said:

Love this game, one of my favorites. I play try to play it every October and have beaten it several times. Even got the highest cash amount reward.

UrbanYeti

#41

UrbanYeti said:

I loved this game, but thats been said a thousand times in these comments, but why do critics say it sucks? Its awesome, sure it has a mario character, and you expect jumping on goombas, or fighting koopas, but this was still fun. I got the controls quickly, the graphics fit, and the gameplay is awesome

Luigiman101

#42

Luigiman101 said:

personally, this is has been my favroite game since it cam out.
i went to the demo in E3 and i played the beta, and i got the game the day it cam out. since i played the beta, i think the beta has way more feature and its more realistic. i am hopping for a sequel to this game. i think its brilliant and the graphics are amazing for 2001 has they were better than some graphics in 2004! i have to say this game does need more story and more cut scenes, other than that its perfect! you guys should check out the beta videos on youtube!

Zach

#43

Zach said:

Very nice review, Jacob. The low overall scores for this game always kept me from trying it out, but I think after reading this I'll have to give it a go. Thanks!

Robo-goose

#44

Robo-goose said:

After seeing all the low ratings for this on Metacritic, I was afraid that I was one of the only people who loved this game. I am very glad to be proved wrong!

GammaGames

#46

GammaGames said:

Maybe Nintendo will read this, and realise it's really well liked. Then make a remake (with new stuff, improvements, etc) for 3DS! I doubt it though

YoshiSage

#47

YoshiSage said:

@Shane Gill: The hate comes from the fact that this game is bland, the gameplay is awkward and boring, and it is completely devoid of a soul, as I stated before. Deserves a 4 at best.

mjc0961

#49

mjc0961 said:

This was a pretty good game in its own right. Way better than Mario Sunshine too. When you put this kind of thing in a game about a different character in the Mario series, you don't expect anything else. But when you give Mario a water pack and tell him to go clean stuff, it becomes "WTF is this crap, I wanted to play a Mario game, not this thing." Only good bits of Sunshine were the special stages where they took that awful FLUUD thing away.

But yeah, Luigi's Mansion can get away with something different because you don't have such high expectations when you go into a "Luigi" game.

YoshiSage

#50

YoshiSage said:

@mjc0961: At least Mario Sunshine was actually fun to play. At least Mario Sunshine wasn't horrifically broken and awkward. At least Mario Sunshine was fun to look at and to listen to. At least Mario Sunshine had a soul.

Wamtu

#51

Wamtu said:

Alright, this game gets a review that doesn't suck.

Oh, which reminds me, I should probably start playing this for Halloween!

theblackdragonAdmin

#52

theblackdragon said:

@YoshiSage: We get that you didn't enjoy Luigi's Mansion perhaps as much as other people. Chill out, please. :/
and considering Luigi's Mansion is haunted, I'd say it has a lot more souls than Sunshine did :3

Chris720

#53

Chris720 said:

Wow YoshiSage... games don't have souls... because they'd have a life. :P

Also, your hate is rather unnecessary and feels rather rude. But whatever.

Anyways, this game is a classic! I would have liked to of played it, but I never found a good price for it. :/

Hopefully release a remake on Wii, Nintendo? :)

Kid_A

#55

Kid_A said:

Well, the fact is this game does have a soul--Luigi, as portrayed in Luigi's Mansion, is one of the most expressive, likable, and despite its extreme cartooniness, human characters ever. This game just lives and breathes personality. It might not put a smiley-face-sticker on it or drench it all in colorful whimsicality, but Luigi's Mansion is just as soulful as Super Mario Sunshine.

CanisWolfred

#56

CanisWolfred said:

I always wanted to play this one. My brother rented it, but I didn't feel like playing it, and he got bored of it, said it was boring and that was the end of that. I'm sure I'll rectify that someday.

Deviant_Mugen

#58

Deviant_Mugen said:

One of the many GC games that are on my list of games to play/buy. I'll get to it someday...

Great review, Kid_A...

NintyMan

#60

NintyMan said:

Like I said before, Luigi got his personatlity that we all know and love today from Luigi's Mansion. It gave him the impact of character that Mario got from Super Mario 64. It was a departure from the classic Mario game, but really, that was one of the main points of Luigi's Mansion. Can it hurt to have something different every now and then?

Also, the final battle with the robotic Bowser and King Boo was intense.

Blizzaga

#61

Blizzaga said:

Great review!

I love this game so much and traditionally play it around Halloween time. Well, it's that time now, isn't it?

You know, Luigi's Mansion would make an awesome port for the Wii.

NassaDane

#63

NassaDane said:

@50. mjc0961

Holly crap! I thought that Sunshine was only good with FLUDD and always when those terrible levels when you loose FLUDD ruined the game! Thats crazy, total opposite!

CanisWolfred

#64

CanisWolfred said:

And I liked everything about Super Mario Sunshine. Then again, to me, a Mario game is a game with Mario in it, so I'm not gonna let some preconcieved notions keep me from enjoying the game.

OldVikingSchool

#65

OldVikingSchool said:

When this game released I rated this one 2/10. Playing this today I would give this 7/10. Once you've learn the basics (and also understand English) this game is really fun to play.

jaguarman

#66

jaguarman said:

I had this game one day before gamecube release :) its very good game,even now the grafx its ok :)

Punny

#67

Punny said:

I like this game. It's very underrated. Sure it's short, but it was sweet. :)

And no, it's not a turd, The Fox.

Ren

#68

Ren said:

ok, I gotta back up YoshiSage here. This really wasn't a very good game. I think die hard Nintendo guys give it a pass because it's not horrible to play, but it's really not up to the nintendo standard, especially for a launch title. I really wanted to like it when it came out (since I am one of those die hards, really), but it was easy, got boring fast after one win, and really did lack much "soul"; as in creative design elements.
Ghosts: check,
light gun: check,
creaky doors: check,
big boo bosses: check... and that was it!
Even for its time a lot more creative design in the haunted house theme was possible, but not explored enough.
also the controls were pretty poorly mapped into an odd configuration that made it seem backwards. Sure you get used to it, but each time you pick it up it seems off again, not intuitive like most major nintendo releases.
it's not the worst game but feels more like an odd tecmo kids game made as a cash in. I'd have said maybe a 6 or 7 as in "not bad" but not great.

TheLonelyGamer

#70

TheLonelyGamer said:

Nice review. I love this game, I remember being so hooked on it when I first played it, too bad the game is short, it only took me 3 days (even got all of the Boo's) to beat on my first try.

LordJumpMad

#71

LordJumpMad said:

I Beat this game in one day!
Mostly because I didn't have a Memory card to save my game when I first got my Gamecube.

advance_melee

#72

advance_melee said:

great game though, it does surely become repetitive. isnt worth 50, but a 20$ would work. Was one of the first games for my gamecube. I loved it had great graphics and fun gameplay. To People sayings its short, if it was any longer td be WAY to repetitive after a while

SpriteKing

#73

SpriteKing said:

After reading this review, I popped in my copy and started again, and was pleased to discover that it's just as fun to play now as when it first came out. Great review!

Kid_A

#75

Kid_A said:

@Ren
We don't give games high marks because we're Nintendo die-hards. Luigi's Mansion is simply a stunning and unique game. That's all

Bakajin

#76

Bakajin said:

I only played this once for an hour or two, but I never got "sucked in' to it . . . all punning aside, if I ever see this going for five or ten bucks I'll probably pick it up and finish it.

Chunky_Droid

#77

Chunky_Droid said:

Awesome review Kid_A, 8/10 was exactly what I would have given it. You really can't go into this thinking it's a Mario style game at all, it is an incredible blast to play and Luigi is so much more personality wise than Mario is.

Thumbs up!

Aviator

#78

Aviator said:

Okay.
@Des lol, you made a funny
@Yoshi_Sage I don't think any game can have a soul. And to say that Sunshine's controls weren't broken I have one work for you. FLUDD.

Sure it's short, but the gameplay is incredibly original. How many games stuff you in a haunted mansion (lighting effects spot on btw) with a vacuum cleaner?

I need to pick this game up again, always got stuck on the last boss.

YoshiSage

#79

YoshiSage said:

^No. FLUDD actually worked.

And by "it was devoid of a soul," I mean that the game wasn't even trying to be fun.

And another thing. While the "gameplay" of Luigi's Mansion is original, it is terrible. Besides, I think you mean "the story is original." Stuffing a guy in a haunted mansion with a vacuum has nothing to do with the gameplay. It is the plot.

noiseredux

#80

noiseredux said:

This was actually the only title I had at the GameCube's launch. Although I was pissed at how short the game was, I always thought that it was a far better game than Super Mario Sunshine.

NassaDane

#82

NassaDane said:

i never noticed this game being short, i thought it was pretty long. So not sure why people keep saying its short.

Rarewarefan7495

#83

Rarewarefan7495 said:

In my opinion this trumps Mario Sunshine in every way. Even if this game is way too short and easy and there's not too much to do, it has an interesting personality and it's pretty fun. It feels like a childish version of Resident Evil except that Jill is more manly than Luigi. Aside from the game, I freakin hate Mario Sunshine. Worst First-Party Mario game ever.

PaperLucario

#85

PaperLucario said:

I LOVE this game, Luigi needs more love from Nintendo, instead of bashing the poor guy. If there was ever a sequel to this game i would go crazy.

StarDust4Ever

#86

StarDust4Ever said:

I sucked up all the jewels in the mansion, then got stuck halfway through the game with low health and nothing to replenish it with.

JamieOStaff

#87

JamieO said:

I remember at the time I was dissapointed that there was not a full-on Mario platformer to launch GCN, I never even bought Luigi's Mansion, my two launch buys were Star Wars: Rogue Leader and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.

Hindsight shows that I was a bit of a divvy for missing this one! The Game Boy Horror and The Poltergust 3000 were great additions to the Mario Bros. universe and yep I really liked Professor E. Gadd's F.L.U.D.D. in Super Mario Sunshine too.

Just like Jacob says, the art design in Luigi's Mansion is brilliant and from the vids I've seen the animation is really strong. Great review, mate.

OverlordMao

#89

OverlordMao said:

FINALLY scooped this game up for $15 and I must say...
I thoroughly enjoyed it! Fun times, and definitely worth it for anybody who sees it used on a shelf at a gamestore like I did.

Colors

#90

Colors said:

I picked this one up in commemoration of the announcement of Luigi's Mansion 2 for 3DS. :)

motang

#95

motang said:

After 50 million years, I finally ordered this game. Look forward to some ghost busting!

DRLAdmin

#96

DRL said:

FINALLY picked this one up. So far, it's an incredibly fun game. No one makes games like Nintendo.

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