The Definitive 50 GameCube Games: #31 Luigi’s Mansion

The series so far: The Definitive 50 GameCube Games.

Up until the GameCube, Nintendo had traditionally launched its consoles with the next big Mario game: Super Mario Bros. with the NES, Super Mario World with the SNES, and Super Mario 64 with the N64.

The company took a different strategy with the GameCube, however, choosing to leave its flagship mascot in waiting, and giving Mario’s slimmer brother a chance to shine.

Rather than give Luigi his own platformer, Nintendo sent the green one to explore a haunted mansion in search of his red-capped brother.

The results were arguably mixed. While Luigi’s Mansion is a great game, and one I personally adore, there’s no doubt that it lacks the kind addictive, broadly appealing gameplay featured in the Mario games mentioned earlier.

Then again, it’s probably unfair to even compare the two. Luigi’s mansion is a brief, but charming experience that stays with a player thanks to its cartoonish style, Ghostbusters-esque gameplay, and endearing leading man.

It’s tough to nail down a genre for this title, I guess it’s an action-adventure game, but it’s really quite unique. You progress through the rooms and corridors of Luigi’s mansion by hunting down and collecting ghosts, opening up more areas as you go, usually by finding keys.

Most rooms contain a few basic ghosts and perhaps an amusing gimmick that can be toyed with by activating the various abilities of Luigi’s vacuum, The Poltergust 3000.

It’s the boss battles which contain the game’s highest points. Bosses must typically be revealed by interacting with the environment in some tricky, unique way. These puzzles are followed by intense matchups between player and ghost, in which the enemy tries to escape Luigi’s vacuum, and you must fight back by deftly maneuvering around obstacles while continuing to bring the suck to the ghosts.

Although it sold and reviewed well, it’s arguable Luigi’s Mansion didn’t find much of an audience upon release. GameCube fans paid more attention to Rogue Squadron 2 and the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Melee. Still, thanks to its unique gameplay, and truly charming story and aesthetic, the title eventually garnered a cult following of dedicated fans. The announcement of a 3DS sequel brought Nintendo a surprising degree of praise.