The GameCube era was when Nintendo’s franchises were at their weirdest. Zelda utilised cartoonish cel-shaded graphics in The Wind Waker. Metroid Prime made the jump into 3D for the series and was a first-person shooter. Pokémon experimented with twists to the classic formula in Colosseum and XD. Pikmin was introduced to the world, and Nintendo even had an exclusive psychological horror game with Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.
However, nothing quite signifies this departure from the norm than the handling of Mario on the platform. Super Mario Sunshine was itself unique, sticking to a consistent beach theme across its levels, and making use of a water-powered jetpack for platforming. Even stranger was that it was not the big flagship game for the console’s launch that Nintendo had previously done with Mario games. No, that honour was given to Luigi’s Mansion, a quirky game that gave Luigi not a platforming adventure, but rather a journey through a haunted house to save Mario.
Immediately, this premise stuck out to me when I was young. I saw the bright normal Mario adventures like 64 and Sunshine, and Luigi’s Mansion’s darker tone immediately set itself apart from other titles.
I struggle to compare Luigi’s Mansion to any other titles – because there’s simply nothing quite like it. There’s no jumping, and instead, the game revolves around you controlling Luigi as he sucks up ghosts whilst progressing through the mansion. There are both puzzle-solving games and light exploration, while you aim to collect as much money as possible to increase your ranking.
It may not be the most successful of Nintendo’s series, but the Luigi’s Mansion games remain near and dear to my heart for their unique gameplay and charm
It’s very replayable, owing to its short length – something which I’ve always loved about the game – which has allowed me to boot up the game whenever the mood strikes and I can happily blast through it in an evening. Its unique gameplay and place in the Mario franchise along with high replayability make it an instant classic for me.
However, as I got older, the game didn’t sell the best and didn’t particularly fit well within the Mario brand, which made me think the chances of a sequel or remake were low to non-existent. Cue my surprise when Luigi’s Mansion 2 for the Nintendo 3DS was announced.
There were some differences to the original, namely going for more of a traditional level system rather than the singular, explorative mansion of the original. However, it still retained the core gameplay and featured some improvements, like an upgrade system. While not as charming as the original to me, having a sequel to one of my favourite games was still a tremendous bonus.
Even more surprising was a further sequel on the Nintendo Switch with Luigi’s Mansion 3. This game took the updates found in 2 and combined them with a singular explorative location like the original game. Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes place in a giant hotel, with each floor providing a unique location akin to 2’s different mansions. It manages to seamlessly integrate all the positives about 2 whilst providing a similar level of charm to the original, all while looking absolutely gorgeous. This is easily one of the best looking games on Switch, and whilst the original still holds a special place to me, 3 is absolutely worth playing and I could see why somebody would call it the best of the trilogy.
It may not be the most successful of Nintendo’s series, but the Luigi’s Mansion games remain near and dear to my heart for their unique gameplay and charm. While I wouldn’t want Luigi’s Mansion to turn into a yearly series, I eagerly await that day when a sequel is announced, and hope the series continues to charm many others as it did me all those years ago.