Luigi steps up to bat when Mario goes missing.
Back in 1993, Luigi became the main character in a game for the first time when Nintendo released an SNES game called Mario is Missing, an edutainment title that taught geography. Since then, it seems Luigi has been dogged by a curse that keeps any of the titles he stars in from attaining the killer app status of most of Mario's games. The GameCube launched earlier this month in Japan, and one of the three launch titles was Luigi's Mansion. Is the game really worth picking up at the GameCube launch? Here are our impressions from the final version of the Japanese copy of the game.
The game finds Luigi exploring a mansion he received as a gift to find his brother, Mario, who's gone missing. Complicating matters, the house is crawling with a wide variety of ghosts who aren't very friendly. Fortunately, in his first encounter with the unruly spirits, Luigi is rescued by Professor Oya Ma, a ghost researcher who lives in the nearby forest. After hearing about Luigi's plight, the professor decides to help him by providing him with a vacuum cleaner, for sucking up ghosts, and the Game Boy Horror, a PDA-like device that serves a variety of purposes. Your mission is to use these powerful tools to eliminate ghosts in the mansion, which will allow you to eventually find Mario.
Given all the hardware he's packing, controlling Luigi will take a bit of practice. You'll begin the game with a training session in order to get used to the basic controls and practice the art of capturing ghosts. The control scheme closely resembles that of a console third-person shooter. The analog stick is used for walking or running, while the C stick (the yellow analog stick on the bottom right) is used to aim the vacuum cleaner or the flashlight. The control can also be switched to a strafe mode, wherein Luigi's movement with the analog stick is restricted to strafing and the C stick is used for making turns or changing directions. The green A button for the most part covers all the actions such as opening doors and moving objects. To suck up ghosts with the vacuum cleaner, you begin by aiming the flashlight at a ghost. It is better to keep the flashlight off (by holding the red B button down) and only turn it on when the ghost is very close to you. This way, you can easily capture the ghosts before they disappear on you. Once caught in the light beam, the ghost will become alarmed, and a pink heart and a number will be displayed. You should then immediately turn your vacuum cleaner on by holding the R trigger. The number indicates the stamina of the ghost, and players must keep the vacuum on until it reaches zero. While the ghost is being sucked into the vacuum, it will move violently around the room, so you must tilt the analog stick in the opposite direction of the ghost's movement--sort of like pulling on a fishing rod--in order to keep the ghost from escaping. Rotating the C stick rapidly also helps reduce the ghost's stamina. Getting rid of ghosts provides you with hearts, which is the only method to heal yourself in the game. You'll also occasionally find treasure chests that may contain valuables or keys to locked doors.