Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October Horrorthon: Luigi’s Mansion

I own a pretty extensive collection of Gamecube games but for some reason I never managed to pick up Luigi’s Mansion until very recently. I guess I was put off this Gamecube launch title by reviews complaining how short the game was. With some games barely hitting a four hour completion time I think in retrospect Luigi’s Mansion is a lot better than reviewers gave it credit for.

One day Luigi receives a letter notifying him that he has won a mansion, although he never remembers entering any competition. He goes out to view the mansion he has won only to discover that it’s been overrun by ghosts. To make matters worse it seems Mario is also missing. Thankfully he meets up with Professor E. Gad. With the help of Prof. E. Gad’s Poltergust 3000 vacuum cleaner Luigi sets off to rid the mansion of ghosts and hopefully find out what happened to Mario.

The obligatory shower scene

 Luigi can’t just use the vacuum cleaner to suck up ghosts directly. They first must be stunned. Usually this involves letting the ghosts get as close to Luigi as possible before shining your torch on them. This reveals their hearts, making them vulnerable to your vacuum. The ghosts won’t give up without a struggle. Struggling ghosts will drag you around the room while you try to ‘reel them in’ with your vacuum. There are however other, unique, let’s say ‘boss’, ghosts that won’t reveal their hearts as easily as the more common variety. Getting them to reveal their hearts can lead to a puzzle or boss battle. A handy camera can give you hints on how to make these ghosts reveal their hearts. Things get even more complicated when fire, ice and water elements get added to your vacuum and there are 50 mischievous Boos to find throughout the mansion. There’s plenty to keep Luigi occupied.

Who you gonna call?! Luigi???

 As a launch title for the Gamecube Luigi’s Mansion does an excellent job of showcasing the hardware. The visuals are bold and cartoony and the ghost effects still impress. The way the vacuum interacts with the environment is always entertaining, especially the excellent cloth physics. There’s plenty of distortion and reflection effects utilised not just for aesthetic purposes but also as elements in many of the game’s puzzles. Despite the playful cartoon charms Luigi’s Mansion does a great job of creating a creepy atmosphere. Shadows are cast by your torch and lightning flashes outside. However my favourite touch is how Luigi whistles the theme tune to himself which turns to a nervous hum in creepy areas.

Luigi’s Mansion can be polished off in about 6 hours even if you take your time to collect all 50 Boos. That might seem short but it’s such a well paced game that there’s never a dull moment. Each boss ghost is defeated is a different manner so gameplay never ends up repeating itself. You can get it pretty cheap now so really the short length isn’t an issue and you can enjoy it for what it is, one of the best games on the Gamecube. It’s also good to see Luigi getting the spotlight for once!

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