This month for Building Character we’re doing something a bit different. In the wacky spirit of April Fools Day, Building Character will be a bit wacky itself. This edition of Building Character focuses on Luigi, specifically Luigi from the original Luigi’s Mansion.
I only recently played all the way through Luigi’s Mansion (I actually beat it the night before Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was released). This is Luigi’s first real solo game. It’s the first time he strikes out on his own without working alongside his iconic brother Mario. And I think he sort of botched it. The Mario Bros. are supposed to be heroes. They’re supposed to be good characters, and yet in this game I see Luigi performing of a lot of unnecessary, possibly evil, acts. Sure, I’ll admit his heart is in the right place: he’s trying to save his brother. However, I personally feel he goes about it in all the wrong ways.
Let’s back up a bit. For those of you who may not know, Luigi’s Mansion begins with Luigi winning a mansion in a contest he didn’t even enter. He and Mario agree to meet up at the mansion to check it out, but by the time Luigi arrives Mario is nowhere to be seen and Luigi is soon attacked by ghosts! He is saved by one Professor E. Gadd and a contraption called the Poltergust 3000. E. Gadd whisks Luigi away to his workshop and explains that the mansion Luigi won appeared as if from nowhere a few days ago. As it turns out (SPOILERS SPOILERS) King Boo was the one who built (well, “created” is more accurate) the mansion that Luigi won. He also freed all the ghosts Professor E. Gadd had captured and stored in portraits throughout his life, and housed them in the mansion. At this point, feeling cocky with his newfound army of boos and liberated portrait ghosts, King Boo decides to lure Mario and Luigi into a trap, thus ridding the Mushroom Kingdom of their heroic meddling. Okay, mostly Mario’s heroic meddling.
Enter Luigi, the “hero” of this game! Here we have the green-clad plumber in his own game for once, and what does he do? He goes rampaging (well, tiptoeing) through the mansion capturing every single ghost he can. How does he do this? He has to rile them up, or trick them into showing their Hearts, then target their Hearts to stun them and capture them with the Poltergust 3000. At the end of each level they are returned to the portraits E. Gadd had trapped them in previously, to be displayed in his gallery. Now, in the case of the boos I am okay with this. In Mario games boos are well-established villains, or at least nuisances, to the Mushroom Kingdom. These portrait ghosts captured by E. Gadd, though… what do we know about them? Not much, really.
All we really know about the portrait ghosts is that E. Gadd has spent his life capturing them for research. We don’t know if they are malevolent, or just trying to live their afterlives. Most of them don’t even pick a fight with Luigi. In the game, capturing these ghosts is like solving a puzzle. Luigi must figure out how to reveal their Hearts, then take advantage of this. One of the first portrait ghosts Luigi captures is a man named Neville. He’s sitting in a chair reading a book. When Luigi enters the room, books will fly off the bookshelves and cause him damage. Clearly this man is really into that book and does not want to be disturbed. But does that stop Luigi? NOPE. Luigi waits until Neville yawns, letting his guard down, and then captures him in the Poltergust 3000. What did Neville do to you to deserve that, Luigi? Nothing.
The next portrait ghost is Neville’s wife, Lydia. She’s sitting at her vanity, brushing her hair. She doesn’t threaten Luigi at all, but that doesn’t stop him from opening the curtains and letting in a draft, forcing her to get up and leave herself vulnerable to attack. He captures her completely unprovoked, and then goes on to capture her children as well, and all the other denizens of the mansion down to the butler.
Luigi, what is your problem? I get that the boos have your brother and you need to rescue him. I get that you will capture any ghosts that attack you first in self defense. But Luigi, why do you need to pick fights with the harmless ghosts just going about their business? They’ve spent an indeterminate amount of time trapped in paintings for, as far as we know, no reason. They’ve finally got a new home in this mansion made by King Boo, and here you come to capture again them after only a few days of freedom, once more condemning them to eternity in a painting. Honestly, Luigi, you are kind of a jerk in this game.