Nintendo prepare for a third game by releasing the original Luigis Mansion on 3DS, but is it a welcome return from the grave?
When Nintendo first announced Luigis Mansion for the 3DS it felt worrying like scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking for anything that could be re-released on the aging portable with a minimum of time and effort. Not that Luigis Mansion is a bad game, but if youve played it before you probably dont want to again and if youve only experienced the vastly superior sequel then this is a considerable downgrade. But its still a game with a lot of charm and sometimes thats enough to forgive a variety of sins.
Luigis Mansion was first released in 2001 as a GameCube launch title, which seemed as strange a decision then as it does now. The GameCube was the first Nintendo console to launch without a mainline Super Mario title, a mistake whose lessons the company has never seemed to fully grasp. At the time the game was deemed so unappealing that, in America at least, Star Wars: Rogue Leader become the de facto launch lead – an indication of just how badly wrong Nintendo got its initial software line-up.
All this was much commented upon at the time, which only made things harder for a game that was already a difficult sell. Part of the problem is that its almost impossible to describe in terms of traditional genre labels. Thats a good thing in terms of originality but even playing the game it takes a good while until you really get a feel for what exactly it is, and by that time its nearly over. But try to imagine a family-friendly survival horror with adventure game style puzzles and Ghostbusters-inspired combat with a high-tech vacuum cleaner.
A few weeks ago it became clear that one of the main reasons for Luigis Mansions return is that its getting a new sequel on the Switch. Nothing is known about the new game beyond what you can discern from the few seconds of footage so far released but we hope and assume itll play more like the second game – which was considerably larger and more complex. Unfortunately, one of the main problems with the original is that its extremely shallow and as a consequence also very easy.
In terms of combat the ghosts are divided up into three groups: standard cannon fodder, named ghosts that require some puzzle-solving to attack, and boos which generally act as hidden bonuses. The no-name ghosts can be caught by startling them with your flashlight and then simply sucking them up with the vacuum cleaner, something which is speeded up if you pull in the opposite direction to which theyre moving. Ghosts can defend themselves in various comedic ways, from punches to throwing banana peels, but defeating them is a largely trivial task.
May of the would-be puzzles can be solved by accident, as although most larger ghosts require some kind of trick to make them vulnerable your only real interaction with the game world is via the vacuum cleaner and its ability to either suck or blow. There are some clever puzzles in the game, as you pull curtains and catch a ghost babys footballs, but youll likely stumble upon their solution almost immediately – or in some cases not even be entirely sure how you did it.
The other major problem with Luigis Mansion is just how short it is. It barely lasts six hours and youll feel its run out of ideas long before that, especially given how small the mansion is and how much backtracking youre required to do in the second half of the game. Having the map on the touchscreen does lessen this problem a little but beyond that there are very few other new features for the 3DS.
The more powerful Stroblub attack from Luigis Mansion 2 is now included, but the game was never designed with it in mind so its not really necessary. Theres also a co-op mode where the other player has to play as a weird gummy bear-looking Luigi made out of green goo, which again the game was never designed to support and really adds nothing given the already low difficulty and how small the play area is.
More: Games news
The best thing the 3DS does for the game is simply to add a 3D effect, which looks great. Nintendo historians will know that Nintendo did actually experiment with 3D at the time, so in this case the game was designed with it in mind, although this is the first time its ever been released with the feature. The game never looks quite as good as the original though, with a lower resolution and a less impressive translucent effect for the ghosts.
As undemanding and undercooked as Luigis Mansion is we were still quietly entertained by the whole experience. Its thoroughly charming throughout (Luigi nervously humming the theme tune to his own game never fails to amuse) and almost impossible to actively dislike. But then we never had to pay £35 for it.
The price really is far too much for such a simple game with very little replay value. If it was half that wed feel more comfortable recommending the game, but as it is wed simply advise seeking out the sequel, if you havent already, and just sit back and hope the third game is just as good…
In Short: Luigis Mansion 2 was always a much better game and while theres some novelty (and possibly nostalgia) value to playing the original it doesnt warrant a new full price release.
Pros: Charming visuals and sound design combined with a very unusual concept thats impossible to pigeonhole. New 3D effect works great.
Cons: The game is extremely shallow and easy throughout, and also very short. None of the 3DS extras add anything substantial and the graphics arent quite as good as the original.
Developer: Grezzo and Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 19th October 2018
Age Rating: 7
Email email@example.com, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter