Luigi's Mansion was a launch title for the Nintendo Gamecube. Though not a traditional Mario game, Luigi's Mansion is still a great, if not eccentric, entry in the series that has pretty much defined Luigi as a character.
When the Gamecube launched, Luigi's Mansion was 1 of 11 games available, and at the time, was the only first party Nintendo game available on the new system. Though the system was not without Mario at launch, this entry would prove the black sheep of the series, and may even be considered a spin off.
The game opens with Luigi walking through the woods on his way to the mansion he has just won(in a contest he didn't even enter) where Mario is supposed to meet him there for a house warming party. Upon reaching the mansion, he finds it isn't quite as it was shown. It is dark and foreboding and...screw it, it's just creepy. Upon entering the spooky mansion, Luigi soon learns through meeting a scientist named Professor E. Gadd that ghosts now inhabited the mansion, having escaped from their confines he had once put them in back in his younger days. He also informs Luigi that his brother has been captured by the ghosts, and it is up to Luigi to save him.
Arming Luigi with the Poltergust 3000, a high powered vacuum cleaner capable of sucking up ghosts(When there's somethin' strange...in the neighborhood...who ya gonna call?...LUIGI?!), and a parody of the Gameboy Color named the Gameboy horror, which provides Luigi with useful information and acts as a communication device. The Professor sends Luigi on a quest to clean up the mansion of its problem ghosts and save his brother. Capturing ghosts is rather simple. Luigi has a flashlight, which, when shined on a ghost will cause it to become temporarily stunned. In this split moment, Luigi must begin to suck the ghost into the vacuum cleaner, using the control stick to pull against the ghost in the opposite direction it is trying to fly. Once its health is depleted, it will be sucked inside. These small fry ghosts aren't the manor's only problem, however. Portrait ghosts are the lingering spirits of the family that once inhabited the mansion. They do not spook quite so easily, and you will have to work a little harder to figure them out. Find out a particular ghost likes to eat? Take away his food to anger him! Is someone enjoying a nice hot shower? How would you feel if someone iced the water!? At a certain point in the game, Luigi accidentally releases trapped boos into the mansion, which will inhabit rooms you've already figured out. Boos are unaffected by the pull of your vacuum, and can also go through walls, making them a real pain to capture, but the end result is worth it. The game has a pretty simple flow to it. You simply figure out a rooms puzzle/challenge to get the key to another room, rinse and repeat. Sounds like it gets old after a while, and sometimes it does, but the game has enough charm to keep you interested. Throughout the mansion, Luigi will find money which he must collect. When you are hit, you lose some money with your health. The more money you have at the end of the game, the higher your rank!
Luigi's Mansion is a very aesthetically pleasing game, especially for the time it was released. Graphics are crisp, and shadow effects are pretty amazing. The mansion is filled to the brim with little details, from the texture of the carpet, to the particles of dust that float in the light. On top of this, almost everything you see can be interacted with in some way or another. The little things matter, and Luigi's Mansion is proof of this. There are a couple downsides, however. The game has quite a few notable glitches, including a couple that can cause you to have to restart the game. The good news if this ever happens to you is that the game is so short that it can be easily beaten in 1-3 sittings. In fact, I usually complete it only 1.
Luigi's mansion is a wonderful little game. It is not perfect, and has definite flaws such as glitches and repetitive goals, but its undeniable charm transcends its problems. It is a wonderful entry into the Mario series, albeit a strange one. It should be fairly cheap now, and if you have a Gamecube, I highly recommend you give it a go. It is the game has defined Luigi as a character, and made him more than just a skinnier, green Mario. Ever since its release, he has been portrayed as introverted, and shy, but brave. The mansion is his home stage in super Smash Bros. Brawl, and appears as an area/court in many of the Mario spin off titles. With the sequel for 3DS coming next year, now might be the perfect time for you to play the first game if you havenít, or for us veterans to brush up on our house keeping!