I have an old friend who enjoyed playing this game together when we were kids. We passed the controller back and forth between us as we made progress in the game. It was so strange for Nintendo not to release a Mario platformer with the GameCube launch, but this is what we got. And so we made the most of it.
Professor E. Gadd is your ally. He understands you are looking for your missing brother Mario (a theme that goes back to Mario is Missing in 1992), but would like you to trap the ghosts in the mansion using the Poltergust 3000, which is really just a vacuum cleaner, so he can trap the ghosts in paintings, making them docile. The professor has an elaborate machine that does this. Professor E. Gadd has the technology. You have the bravery.
As much as sucking up ghosts with a vacuum is a tribute to the movie “Ghostbusters,” the game itself is a tribute to Resident Evil. It’s a fairly large mansion, and you need keys to unlock doors. There are door opening sequences, just like in Resident Evil! The main difference is you’re catching ghosts, not defeating zombies.
The ghost-catching mechanic is used from the start of the game to the end. You literally suck a ghost in from the ghost’s heart, while the ghost makes desperate attempts to flee the suction. Sometimes the ghost escape, and takes some of the gold and valuables you have collected with him or her. If it’s part of the story, the ghost will be back in the same room. You just need to wait it out. If it’s a “Boo” ghost (of which there are fifty), he will jump through walls, and occasionally into rooms you don’t have access to yet. Just keep sucking up ghosts and collecting keys, and the long path to Mario will present itself.
It’s the little things that make the game enjoyable. There is a prank door with nothing behind it, and if you open it, it flattens Luigi, and he falls to the floor like a sheet of paper. Luigi hums the background music here and there to fight off his fear. The ghost in the dining room is incredibly fat. The ghost in the rec room is incredibly fit. There’s a conservatory with a pianist ghost, who plays familiar Nintendo music. The game has charm.
There are boss fights, but they aren’t especially remarkable. Also, it can be difficult when most of the doors are locked and you don’t know where to go. Running through the same corridors over and over does get a little stale, but I applaud the development team for going outside of their comfort zone. The game now has a sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS. I just need to play it.