Full Review: Yeah, Luigi may have a mansion, but Mario's still got his castle.
A Mario game without its leading character in it is truly frightening. The flagship launch title for the Nintendo GameCube -- Luigi's Mansion -- is not your traditional Mario jump from platform to platform kind of game. However, it does have in it the fun of exploration, a story fans will love, and a new style of gameplay that only the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto can think of. As always, it's Nintendo time!
One day, a letter arrives in the mail for Luigi, claiming that he's won a mansion in a contest that he doesn't remember entering. Mario, learning about this strange contest, leaves for the mansion first and never returns. Luigi's story is set: hunt for his missing brother inside of a mysterious mansion. What Luigi finds inside the spooky building is a house filled with spirits and Mario is missing somewhere inside of it. Upon meeting a spiral glass eyed Dr. E. Gadd, Luigi is armed with a flashlight and a vacuum cleaner to aid in his quest to find his missing brother. The story may be a little different but it is original enough to fit within the pages of Mario history.
Luigi's Mansion fits well with the freshly designed GameCube controller. Through the gameplay you will have to explore each and every room of the haunted domicile and as you go, catch the daunting poltergeist brigades within. Both the directional stick and the C stick simultaneously move Luigi's position and the direction in which the vacuum head is pointed while the R button sucks -- ghosts that is.
There are a lot of puzzles within the form of fighting ghosts. One specter, for instance, is a woman combing her hair in the mirror. Whenever you shine the flashlight on her, she disappears. The way to find her weak spot is to explore the rest of the room and find something else inside that she will react to. If Luigi's successful in blinding a ghost temporarily with the glare of his flashlight, you can then take a moment to bag the ghost with your vacuum cleaner. To put this in short: in order to catch a ghost, you must first blind them, then use the vacuum to drag them in and struggle with each one as they try to fly away.
Sometimes the boss ghosts leave you hints for defeating them. In addition to the flashlight, Luigi is given a Game Boy Horror. This handy little pocket device lets Luigi view any area in a first person view. While in this mode you can see a ghost's heart and a click of the A button on the heart shows a text message that reveals to a little something about the ghoul.
Aside from the boss ghosts there are many varieties of regular apparitions. They usually come in pairs and tend to fight dirty. Entering into any unlit room, you may find a specter appear instantly. If not, messing the place up with your vacuum will do the trick. Specific ghosts have a certain form of attack method. There are types that can grab Luigi's arms and hold him still, ones that can drop items such as bananas, making Luigi slip, and even ones that can't be defeated unless you have the proper elemental tools in which to dispose of them. As your adventure continues Luigi will find fire, water, and ice spirits that can be sucked into his vacuum. At that point Luigi can use the cleaner to blow fire, ice, and water and use them as weapons. These properties come in handy for taking on some of the game's enemies and even in solving puzzles within a room. For example, lighting candles with the fire element makes a key appear. Beating up ghosts and solving puzzles gives Luigi keys to unlock the manor's doors, letting you only get closer to finding that missing brother of yours.
Both the ghosts and Luigi have excellent detail in their high contrasts of colors. The graphics help to create a realism in the game that translates into a cartoon in 3D motion. Little details like how Luigi's nose wobbles when he walks and how he breathes cold, visible air is amazing. You'll notice how edged out Luigi gets when a ghost appears on screen, and the animation works to where his eyes bulge and his hair pops out in a comic book sense is both comical and clearly fantastic!
If you are noticing how well everything surrounding Luigi reacts to him and his trusty vacuum pack you will see that the GameCube's graphics really start to shine. In suction mode, pressing the vacuum up close to a tablecloth stretches it out and it realistically gets dragged inside. Using the machinery up against a shelf, couch, clock, lamp, etc., makes them rattle. For a neat effect, dust particles build up as you're sucking. Additionally, shadows and lighting effects make an impact on how Luigi and the rest of the objects on screen act accordingly. For example, in a pitch-black room, the flashlight brightness attaches itself to whatever objects are in front of it, and the effect is great! Overall, the graphics make Luigi's Mansion stand out even amongst the top titles in video games today. There's truly a huge improvement in the sound effects of the new game, when in comparison to the older Mario games. Throughout the gameplay, Luigi actually has a set of vocal chords that are interestingly involved with the game's main theme. Luigi can call out to his brother, not just in one way, but also in more than a few preprogrammed patterns. Not only that, but Luigi actually whistles along with the mansion's music, pacing the bright and dim floors. It's not bad, it's not great... but it fits.