Reviews: Luigis Mansion

Not as polished as the sequel, but has a unique charm of its own

While Dark Moon is a much longer and arguably overall better game than the original Luigi's Mansion, the original has a certain charm that I like about it over the sequel.

The entire game takes place in a single large mansion. As a result, it's fairly short compared to the sequel's multiple settings. But it also gives the game a certain cohesiveness to it, as you explore the one mansion at your own pace, with several ways to save your progress easily, unlike the sequel's mission-based structure that only let you save between each ~20 minute mission. Instead, here you can explore at your leisure and go wherever you want.

The mansion starts out linear, in a very blunt "room 1 contains key to room 2, room 2 contains key to room 3, etc." manner, but after a while, the game opens up and gives you multiple missions to do as you see fit. Boos fill every single room of the house, hiding in different spots, and some rooms contain hidden entrances rather than being behind locked doors.

While Luigi's Mansion was arguably a puzzle game of sorts, it was really the sequel that hammered puzzles home by making even the mere act of navigation a puzzle in itself. Here, the rooms have simple mini-puzzles that don't take too long to figure out, and once a room is solved, not only does the puzzle no longer have to be repeated (an annoying problem with navigation puzzles in the sequel), but the room lights up and becomes a more pleasant, livable place. It's nice to clear the rooms of the mansion and gradually see the place become less dark and spooky, and more inviting.

The ghosts themselves, the special "portrait" ghosts, are all the sorts you'd think might live in a mansion. They range from members of a family to an artist, a butler, a bodybuilder, and more. While Dark Moon's ghosts engaged in cartoony slapstick, they lacked the "human" feel of the ghosts of the original game, which contributed to the mansion feeling like an actual, lived-in place rather than a mere video game level.

This game does show its age, however. Puzzles are really simple, and combat is a bit lacking. Ghosts often break your vacuum's connection, which to me often comes across as a little unfair as I don't see a way to avoid it. But overall, for its atmosphere and emphasis on setting, I think very fondly of the original.