If Mario is “the man” of the Mushroom Kingdom, does that make Luigi the resistance fighter? Waluigi is the social justice warrior of the group, Wario is the troll…what does that make Luigi? This is a question I’ve spent wayyy too much time thinking and Googling terms about to go unsolved.
Thanks to Luigi’s Mansion, I think I have a suitable answer. I proclaim that Luigi is a fighter for equal rights amongst all.
Think about it, Luigi has always been second place at best in the Mushroom Kingdom. It makes sense that he be done with the inequality that clearly exists in the monarchical dictatorship in place therein, and he’s had enough by time Luigi’s Mansion came around.
Armed with a vacuum and other devices invented by Professor E. Gadd, who makes his first appearance here, Luigi takes to clearing his new mansion of the many inhabiting spirits. This was a Gamecube launch title that received a lot of love for being inventive and utilizing the weird-ass controller fairly well, which is basically any Nintendo game ever it seems.
I love the core gameplay in play with Luigi’s Mansion because it so appropriately takes the concept of “player two” out for a spin. He’s not a fighter, and he’s not even that brave. You can see his gloved hand shaking with each key inserted and his nose wobble with every clouded breath. The character building here is wonderfully subtle and built with smaller details as opposed to sweeping cutscenes. Luigi’s entire character is on display here to a charming result.
So it is that the green Mario takes his devices to the upscale ghosts of his inherited mansion, laughing a sickeningly devious laugh for each and every one he captures for all time within his infinite vacuum of horrors. He’s done with being number two. This is his house and he will stake his flag in each and every room!
Vacuuming is a game of timed tug-of-war with musical cues telling you when your prey is about to escape. It’s visually adorable to see him yanked around a room as coins, paper money, and gems pop out and the ghost flails to survive on the outside world a little longer. TIming your pulls correctly can take more health from their HP hearts while missing sends Luigi rolling into a wall.
Each room that’s occupied with ghosts (which is most of them) has a special trick in getting the ghost to appear. In typical Nintendo fashion, these fights are creative and worth finding organically as opposed to being too obtuse. There are accenting boss fights that are consistently done well, although Luigi’s naturally slower, dopey movement can prove troublesome in arenas with multiple projectiles.
A popular idea floating through Nintendo’s “how can we complicate the simple” mindset of the time was attaching the Gameboy Advance to the Gamecube and allowing Luigi to find secrets that way. Thankfully Luigi’s Mansion operates just fine without that addition, but it’s an interesting little time capsule listening to E. Gadd carry on about such a feature in the age of the Switch.
Luigi’s Mansion does begin to grind near the end of the experience as something you’re not going to revisit too often. There are clear scores that bait you into trying to locate more and more secrets, but the low mobility of Luigi and the lack of seamless transitions between some areas (lots and lots of Resident Evil door animations) give me the sense everytime I finish it that I’m good for the next few years.
Does that take away from Luigi’s Mansion being a lovable little game? Not nearly enough to drown it, and adding in the performative laughter at his dreams of taking down the man one ghost at a time adds a delightfully demonic angle to his light-hearted ghost hunt.
Luigi’s Mansion Score: