E. Gadd! Can you believe Luigi's Mansion turns 15 years old this week? That makes it older than today's high school freshmen — yikes! The seminal #NintendoGameCube title was first released in North America on November 18, 2001, which made it one of three launch-day titles for the system. While initially some fans were disappointed that Luigi's red-clad brother #Mario was missing at the launch of the new title, Luigi's Mansion proved that Mr. Green was just as formidable and could carry his own game as well as Mario could. In honor of the game's anniversary, let's take a look back at what made it so great.
It Was Starkly Different To Other Mario Titles
Luigi's Mansion is only a Mario title because of Luigi's familial relations. Other than a few characters, Luigi's Mansion shares almost nothing in common with other games in the series. Instead of running around colorful landscapes, jumping on Goombas, kicking Koopa Troopas, throwing fireballs and collecting power stars, Luigi's Mansion ditches the hallmarks of Mario games for dark interiors, a flashlight, a vacuum, and an entire family full of ghosts escaped from portraits.
Visually, thematically, and in terms of playability, this game could not be more different from a typical Mario game. This is what makes Luigi's Mansion a masterpiece. Fans of Luigi (read: younger brothers) had been wanting to see Mr. Lime Green shine in his own game for years, and #Nintendo could not have delivered any better. Making Luigi's Mansion into its own distinct game far different from others in the series truly gave Luigi and his fans the treatment they deserved.
The Characters And Story Were Far Beyond Your Typical Mario Title
Average Mario titles have a few main characters and hardly any dialogue or character interaction. Luigi's Mansion completely flips that notion upside-down. Save for the random ghosts, every character has a story. All of the ghosts that escaped from the portraits have backstories and some degree of characterization, and some even talk to Luigi and play games, such as Madame Clairvoya telling your fortune, or the twins challenging Luigi to a game of hide-and-seek.
These character interactions contributed game elements that player's didn't know they wanted because they never knew these things were capable. In your standard Mario platformer (not counting titles such as Paper Mario or other Mario RPGs), there is nowhere near this level of dialogue or story. The humor in the game is pretty spot-on as well. Whether it's the frantic old man Professor E. Gadd cracking a joke at Luigi's expense, or the physical animations of the game, the humor stood out and is still memorable.
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Luigi's Mansion Is The Perfect Launch-Day Title
Luigi's Mansion is the most well-remembered of the Nintendo GameCube's launch-day titles. While it is not the longest or most challenging game, it sets the gold standard for launch day with its phenomenal graphics and succinct gameplay that meant you weren't stuck playing it by the time newer titles came out.
Most importantly, it showcased what the GameCube was all about: having fun. While not too scary, Luigi's Mansion has fun with ghosts and a haunted mansion, all while delivering extreme playability with the GameCube's controller — remember having to use both sticks while using the Poltergust 3000? — which was drastically redesigned from the previous generation's #N64 controller. Was it the best game of all time? No. But for a launch day game, it was absolutely perfect.
The Truly Dedicated Players Were Rewarded
Everyone will agree that Luigi's Mansion isn't the most difficult game to beat, but it was never just about completing the game. It was all about being diligent, catching all of those Boos, watering all of those plants, collecting all of the gold bars, gems, pearls and cash you could, and trying to end up with a Rank A mansion at the end of the game. This required some serious effort.
You had to pay attention to when Professor E. Gadd told you to water the plants and catch all 50 Boos hiding throughout the mansion. You'd have to shake every pot and vacuum every chandelier, and you probably still won't get a Rank A. But everyone who has ever achieved that goal will tell you that it was definitely worth the effort.
It Never Fails To Give You A Good Nostalgia Kick
In the 15 years since the release of Luigi's Mansion, we've seen the characters and setting a couple of times (the "Luigi's Mansion" stage Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is pictured above). Seeing the mansion reappear in Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart, or seeing Professor E. Gadd pop up unexpectedly in different Mario games over the years, fills you with nostalgia. This is the mark of a truly great game. A sight or sound that reminds you of a great game from your youth and wanting to revisit that game is what all games strive for. For me, Luigi's Mansion is one of those games.
So there you have it, just a few reasons why Luigi's Mansion was so great 15 years ago, and is still so playable today. If reading through this article didn't give enough of a nostalgia kick, here is the game's original US trailer:
What do you think of Luigi's Mansion after 15 years? Let me know in the comments!