Given enough time everyone who pursues gaming as a hobby builds up a sort of shame list, a collection of games that are of interest but have gone unplayed for various reasons. We call this list a backlog, and the following details the elimination of another title from mine:
In the time I've spent looking back at titles from platforms past in the construction of a proper backlog list, I've come to the realization that the Gamecube was one of my favorite consoles. Sure, it couldn't compete with the sheer library sizes of its contemporaries, but its plethora of gems both well-advertized and hidden definitely makes a case for quality at least equaling Sony and Microsoft's quantity. Between this discovery and the announcement of a 3DS sequel later this year, Luigi's Mansion seemed a natural choice to strike from my list.
As a launch title for the Gamecube it didn't have the benefit of time for Nintendo to explore how to push the system's hardware to its limits, but this doesn't matter much considering that it uses the Mario series' stock 3D art style to substitute fine details for crisp and colorful models. This doesn't mean that the seasoned developer dropped the ball on presentation by any means, though; Nothing in Luigi's Mansion is truly frightening, but the masterfully-set atmosphere crafted by clever use of darkness and the infamously catchy main theme (which, despite running on near constant repeat throughout the game, manages to never get old) remains both fun and foreboding in the way you'd expect a real haunted house trip to be.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the interface. Controls are surprisingly sticky for a first-party Nintendo game, specifically when it comes to interacting with objects. More than a few puzzles (including at least one boss fight) would have been suitably challenging if the game's various interactive spheres snapped to Luigi within a logical margin of his vacuum's cone of effect. But, since those key objects require pinpoint precision in a game that already has an issue or two properly conveying field of depth, unnecessary difficulty has a way of compounding. It's especially frustrating when you've figured out a puzzle but are forced to think twice when the game makes it seem impossible to execute your plan.
When they work properly - which thankfully is still a great majority of the time - the puzzles that the titular haunted house throws at you are satisfyingly clever. Even if you opt to shoot straight for the ending and pass up the wealth of hidden bosses and avenues to increase your wealth to even more ridiculous levels, the various challenges you face as you explore the ghost-infested mansion are just enough to get you to slow down for a moment and think while keeping the pace relatively quick. The inclusion of elemental ghosts eventually giving you the ability to expel fire, water, and ice from your Poltergust slowly open up more and more rooms to you, each with their own neat gimmicks and solutions.
Nonlinear adventures are something that the Mario franchise sorely needs more of, and Luigi's Mansion's toe in the Metroidvania water made for a unique experience. Despite some decidedly disappointing hit detection on key items, the game succeeds at what it sets out to do far more often than it fails, which nets it a healthy recommendation. I definitely had fun scouring the mansion for gold and gems to upgrade my new property, but just a little polish could've made a really good game a truly excellent one.