Logan J. Fowler says gustin’ makes him feel good…
The company known as Nintendo has placed a lot of emphasis their flagship character, Mario, for popular video games, merchandising, and mass pop culture appeal. But lurking in the shadows is Mario’s taller, underrated, and underutilized brother, Luigi. Clad in blue overalls and sporting green where Mario would normally sport red, the “Weege” has played second fiddle to his brother for nearly 30 years. 2nd player would always be Luigi, and when you could actually play as the brother, it would be an ensemble style game, such as Mario Kart or Mario Party, or one of the various Mario sports games. But even then, Mario had top billing in the title.
But in 2001, Luigi finally became a star. Headlining his own game for the first time (well, not if you count Mario is Missing, but we won’t talk about that), Mario’s kin got to hog the spotlight. When the Gamecube was launched that same year, no Mario title accompanied the release of the “purple box” as the Gamecube would go on to be known. Instead, the blue and green clad mustachioed plumber was getting his due alongside the Gamecube’s debut.
Luigi’s Mansion was a third person style adventure game where the Weege roams about a massive haunted house that he won in a contest, one of which, he never took part. Luigi, ever the nice brother, asks Mario to meet him at the house to celebrate his earning, but when the red and blue wardrobed plumber is not to be found, Luigi enters the house which is filled to the brim with ghosts of all different varieties. The hero is nerve wracked, but he earns a bit of help from scientist Professor Elvin Gadd (E. Gadd), who gives Luigi the “Poltergust 3000,” a vacuum cleaner used to suck up the baddies found in house. Luigi also gets a “Game Boy Horror,” which is a communication device used to contact the scientist. It’s also used to visualize maps and check out ghosts. Turns out Gadd is aware that the mansion is a trap, to lure the protagonist in. The scientist proclaims that he saw a figure resembling Mario head into the mansion but hasn’t seen him since then. Armed and ready, Luigi begins his search for his brother deep within the haunted house.
When moving about the mansion, Luigi must shine a flashlight on ghosts to temporarily stun them, which in turns shows off their heart When that happens, It’s go time! Right away the Weege must activate the vacuum cleaner to suck the ghost up and once their heart meter hits 0, the bad guy is done for. Each ghost nabbed earns Luigi some hard earned coins. The Poltergust isn’t without upgrades, either. At certain points in the game Luigi can shoot out fire, water, or ice to take out certain ghosts. It changes up the gameplay a bit, since the game is somewhat monotonous.
Each area that Luigi goes through has the plumber sucking up ghosts to earn keys to unlock doors throughout that given space in linear fashion. The game has a total of four areas and in each Luigi must take on bosses that will have a specific weakness the hero must exploit. Once defeated, these enemies will return to portraits in the professor’s laboratory. The final boss, King Boo (who has set all the mansion madness up) has a few tricks up his sleeve (or maybe his triangular shaped hand?), and it’s up to Luigi to stop him and bring his brother back.
I bought a GameCube back in college, and Luigi’s Mansion was one of the first titles I got. I clearly remember returning it and buying it back several times just to say I could complete it. I think it was due to the fact that despite his lack of being in games, I find him to be kind of the underdog, therefore earning him the place as my favorite video game character.
The game does look awesome from a visual standpoint, but the repetition of gameplay does bring the game down quite a few notches. There’s nothing wrong playing off a Ghostbusters theme using Nintendo characters, but if the game had more to it, perhaps to give it a more substantial experience, it would be worthy to place among some of Mario’s excellent adventures. Sadly, Luigi’s Mansion isn’t groundbreaking in that way, but overall, it’s a fun game, and some of the boss fights are cleverly thought out.
Luigi’s Mansion and its themes have appeared again in Mario Kart DS and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And Luigi is heading back “home” in the sequel titled Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which will be released for the 3DS sometime soon, hopefully in the near future.
While it didn’t exactly wow me, Luigi’s Mansion has gone on to achieve sort of a “cult classic” following, and the excitement level for the sequel is significantly high. It’s not the best video game out there, but it’s entertaining, and it’s enjoyable. And sometimes that all you need for a night, even if turning the lights down low and dodging ghosts whilst playing it won’t exactly send shivers down your spine.