While Luigi’s Mansion wasn’t the first game I bought on the Gamecube, that honour went to Super Mario Sunshine, it’s certainly – along with aforementioned title – one of that consoles games I have some really fond memories of. So when a port of the game was announced for 3DS, I was over the proverbial yellow, haunted moon.
You’ve probably played Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which is a sequel to Luigi’s Mansion, by now, so you already have some idea of what the game's about. On the off-chance that you haven’t played either of these titles, Luigi’s Mansion, as the title suggests, places you in the shoes of Mario’s less famous and less loved brother, Luigi.
The story goes that Luigi has won a mansion (now that’s my kind of competition!) in a contest and Mario has disappeared in said mansion when he went to look for Luigi. When Luigi finally rocks up at the mansion, wouldn’t you know it, Mario is nowhere to be found and the mansion is full of unwanted squatters of the deceased kind. Ghosts rule the roost and it’s up to our green clad scaredy-cat to bust their chops and find Mario in one of the second best Ghostbust-ing games ever made!
Armed with the Poltergust 3000 from Professor E. Gadd, Luigi’s doing that one job we all think is probably the best job ever: ghostbusting. There’s no particle streams here though, as the Poltergust vacuums up ghosts before you return them to E. Gadd’s lab and turn them into paintings.
The eponymous mansion is, by modern standards, rather small, composed of a handful of floors and rooms which are all locked. Progress requires you to relight the mansion by defeating ghosts and unlocking new rooms along the way as you search for signs of Mario. The Poltergust 3000 comes with two handy settings, blow and suck. You can suck up ghosts and money that they drop or is scattered around the mansion while the blowing option lets you, well blow. Further into the game you’ll be able to charge up the Poltergust with elemental attacks that let you blow out fire, water or ice though not enough is really done with this mechanic. The flashlight you’re equipped with doesn’t just help you navigate the dark and creepy hallways, but it also lets you stun ghosts which is the only way for them to get caught up in your vacuum stream.
Picking up all the dosh you can does go towards a nice little addition at the end of the game, which tally’s up your winnings to build Luigi a new house or, if you’ve hoarded enough, a mansion that isn’t an actual trap. Along with the ghosts in the mansion, there are fifty Boo’s for you to catch along with a Hidden Mansion to unlock, which is basically the games hard mode. Amiibo support exists as well along with motion controls and a co-op mode for those who aren’t feeling brave enough to tackle this deadly demesne on their own.
Mechanically the game is incredibly simplistic, though no less impressive because of it, and just a ton of fun. As is just about always the case with Nintendo titles, that simplicity is one of the games great strengths. Honestly, you’re really not going to struggle through Luigi’s Mansion. The game is incredibly easy, with only a handful of encounters really proving to have some challenge. But that’s not the point of the game, the point is to have fun and in this regard Luigi’s mansion thoroughly succeeds.
The game's other strength is its stylised visuals. Now it’s been a while since I’ve booted up the Gamecube original, but this 3DS port looks remarkably similar, perhaps even better in some regards, to its Gamecube parent. Developers Grezzo, who worked in conjunction with Nintendo, have done a fantastic job of capturing the 2001’s original release for Ninty’s wonderful little handheld. The visuals and art design are a refreshing breeze in today’s Fortnite-esque or hyper-realistic design styles and all the little flourishes in animation, on both the enemies and Luigi’s parts, bequeath the game much of its character.
Whether it’s Luigi shivering and shaking all over the place from abject terror at what may be around the corner, to the panicked flourishings of ghosts as they try to escape your vacuum of doom, the game absolutely shines. With the consoles 3D function enabled, the mansions rooms gain a nice sense of depth to them.
Another nice little touch is the addition of a map screen on the 3DS’s lower screen, which helps you navigate the mansions hallways while also showing Luigi’s position as an 8-bit sprite from his original Mario Bros’ days as he moves around the mansion.
Luigi’s Mansion does suffer in one regard unfortunately. And that’s in the controls. The Gamecube original made use of the machines C-stick to control your aiming. On a standard 3DS, unless you have the Circle Pad Pro, you’re going to find the controls during combat a little on the frustrating side for quick turns and aiming high or low. While the X and B buttons take over this function, they’re not great in combat when you need to be swift. It also makes strafing unwieldy as well. Owners of the New 3DS won’t have that problem thanks to the machines extra analogue stick. To be fair, the machines optional motion controls do also take over this setting but in practice, I’ve never found having to lift or lower my console while playing to be comfortable. The 3DS’s motion controls are rather sensitive so even small arm movements will have you looking up or down when you don’t want to.
Luigi’s Mansion may be eighteen years old now, but its proof that great games – and design – can stand the test of time and be just as much fun as they were when originally released. Its beautiful visuals, superb animations and addictive gameplay are the most fun you can have on the go without having an unlicensed particle accelerator strapped to your back.
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12 October 2018
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