Saturday, July 20, 2019

Luigi's Mansion

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

In a world becoming increasingly crowded with expanded universes an original concept can be difficult to come across. As a universe grows the formula for how to create content for said universe becomes more and more strict until eventually all the entries begin to blend together and they lose what made them unique. Luigi's Mansion is a spinoff done right, a game that breaks from the platforming staple that propelled the mushroom kingdom into the stratosphere to take a big risk with a spooky Metroid style adventure. An interesting concept combined with a stellar setting would presumably be a homerun from a studio with as much clout as Nintendo. Eighteen years later Luigi's mansion remains a fun experience that took a huge risk but despite everything it has going for it, when stacked up against modern games it struggled to hold my attention.

Welcome welcome welcome everyone welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and the is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the medium as a whole. You can see everything we do including both of our podcasts all in one spot over at If you like what you hear don’t forget to subscribe for new content every week! Now lets take a trip into a haunted house, its time to talk about Luigi's Mansion.

Fundamentally Luigi's Mansion is an entirely different game from the rest of the Super Mario series. As the game progresses it slowly becomes evident that inspiration was definitely drawn from an existing Nintendo series but that inspiration wasn’t from Mario, but Metroid. Core elements of the gameplay experience center around exploration, discovering new abilities, and the literal unlocking of new areas of the mansion to progress. The game relies on atmosphere to craft a memorable gameplay experience allowing the player to explore the labyrinth that is the mansion with increasing freedom and backtracking in their venture to banish all the ghosts that reside within. But while this freedom is the games greatest asset in the late game it's also the largest detriment in the game's opening hours. As the mansion opens up and puzzles have more room to breath demanding more backtracking and callbacks to earlier encounters the developers are able to fully realize the potential of the concept of an approachable baby's first metroidvania type experience. Without the dozens of rooms across multiple levels of the mansion to explore the opening hours of the game leave the player with a sense of monotonous handholding being delivered in a depressingly linear fashion. A fantastic atmosphere and one of the best settings to ever come from the Mario universe are stymied by restrictive game design and an extended tutorial section that will lose most players before they get the chance to enjoy what the mansion has to offer.

Of the game's four major areas the first two and consequently the first hour and a half of a five hour game are spent shuffling the player down a closed of hallway that moves from one room to another with little to nothing connecting the experience. Luigi's Mansion is a game that has an acceptable narrative, excellent exploration, and surprises around every corner that lead the player through a maze of haunted hallways and rooms but the majority of what the game has to offer is locked behind an oppressively slow opening. Just like all media games are supposed to hook the player early and Luigi's mansion offers the antithesis of a quick hook.

Some games of yesteryear stand up to even the most intense of contemporary scrutiny; others, even games that were considered some of the best of their time, fall apart at the seams. As I played through the entirety of Luigi's Mansion for the first time since November of 2001 it became abundantly clear that it is a game that leans heavily on nostalgia in order to even be playable twenty years on. The series develops in personality with Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon by leaning into the slapstick humor and being a genuinely funny game, and it looks to be developing in scope in Luigi's Mansion 3 moving from a mansion to a haunted hotel. When controlling for the nostalgia variable in 2019 Luigi's Mansion comes across as a quaint game with a unique take on the Mario universe that struggles to achieve lift off leaving the vast majority of its audience on the tarmac, and even for those that stick with it to the end the experience is an unremarkably average one. If you're someone that is really into the idea of a stand alone Luigi game then sure, go ahead and revisit his first solo outing. But if you're even the slightest bit hesitant on any of the elements of the game it's best to leave the first game in the soon to be trilogy in the rose tinted rear view mirror and just play Dark Moon for an overall better experience.

What are your thoughts on the Luigi's Mansion series and how do you see the third game panning out? Let me know in the comments down below. And while youre down there don’t forget to like this video and subscribe for new content every week! Head over to to see everything we do all in one spot, I'll be back next week talking about…Red Dead Redemption 1 probably so until then just go play some games.

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