The first time you load the disc in the GameCube, you'll need to choose a save file. There are three files, and they require three blocks of memory to save the game. From the Main Menu, you can select, copy or erase a save file, or choose your Options. To get started, choose an empty save file. The game begins with Luigi walking towards his new mansion. Once inside, you'll begin your adventure.
Once you have a file saved here, it will display how far you are into the game ('Up to Area X', where X is the current Area you are playing through), your score as of the end of the last Area, in Gs, the number of Boos caught, and, after you complete the game, the number of times you have done so. A saved file as it appears on this screen is shown right.
There are a number of differences between the American, Japanese and PAL versions. The main differences are that the PAL version has been altered to increase the difficulty, and that Rank A completion can only be achieved in the Hidden Mansion.
On the Options menu, you can choose sound, rumble, control and language settings. The Brightness function allows you to adjust the settings on your TV to the optimum setting for this game. There is also a short preview movie of Pikmin. Once you have everything set as you want, it's time to begin!
In order to progress through the game, you must catch several ghosts to clear the many rooms in the Mansion. Some ghosts are weak, others will put up a strong fight to try and evade capture.
To capture a ghost, you must first stun it with your flashlight. To do so, turn it off by holding down , and facing towards the ghost. When it is within range, release to stun the ghost and reveal its heart. This gives you a chance to try and suck it up.
As soon as you stun a ghost, press and hold to turn on your vacuum. To reduce the ghost's health, pull and away from the direction in which the ghost is trying to fly. Sometimes, the ghost will manage to escape, and you'll have to wait for it to reappear to try again (though its health won't be restored). When its health reaches zero, keep hold of until you finish sucking up the ghost. If you need to practise your technique, you can visit the Training Room from the Laboratory.
Luigi's Mansion is divided into a short 'tutorial' section, and four Areas, each one increasing on the previous in size and difficulty. An Area begins when Luigi first enters the Mansion from Professor E. Gadd's laboratory, and ends with the defeat of that Area's boss. For example, Area 1 begins when Luigi returns to the Mansion after completing the Tutorial, and ends after the boss battle.
Professor E. Gadd's Inventions
At the beginning of the game, you'll receive two of Professor E. Gadd's inventions: the Poltergust 3000 vacuum and the Game Boy Horror. The Poltergust is the most important of these. Its main function is to capture the many ghosts that inhabit the Mansion. Without this, Luigi would be unable to progress through the Mansion, and likely meet the same fate as his brother. Alongside this function, it can also be used to expel any one of three elements: Fire, Water, and Ice, which are important in capturing some ghosts. At the end of each Area, Luigi must return with it to the Lab, in order to empty it and return the Portrait Ghosts to the Gallery, and prepare it for the next Area.
The Game Boy Horror has many separate functions. It always appears on-screen, displaying how many Coins, Notes and Gold Bars Luigi has collected.
Later in the game, it will also have a more important function: the Boo Radar. This is a light on the top-left of the Game Boy Horror, which flashes in different colours to indicate whether or not a Boo can be found near-by. It is a stable blue if no Boo is in the current room, flashes yellow with increasing intensity as Luigi approaches a Boo's location, and shines red when it detects a Boo in the object Luigi is standing beside. Note, however, that it cannot distinguish between Boos and similarly-shaped and -sized objects. It will flash red if it detects a bomb or Boo Ball (a Boo-sized ball), thus keeping the real Boo hidden, and, in the case of a bomb, possibly harming Luigi as well.
The Game Boy Horror can also display a map of the Mansion (press ), scan objects in first-person view to reveal secrets (press ), and display a complete list of treasures, key items and Portrait Ghosts (press ).
As you progress through the game, you'll meet 23 ghosts who are much more powerful than the regular ghosts found throughout the Mansion. These ghosts are known as Portrait Ghosts, and are so called because they are the ghosts who escaped from Professor E. Gadd's Gallery. All but two of these ghosts have 100hp, much more than the regular ghosts. They drop valuable Pearls as Luigi sucks them up. Four of these Ghosts are Area Bosses, the most powerful Ghosts in that section of the game.
From the time you start sucking a Portrait Ghost up, to the time you catch it, or it escapes, small silver balls called Pearls will fall from it. They will grow in size as the ghost loses health, the larger ones found towards the end being the most valuable. A Portrait Ghost will drop nine Pearls, one Pearl for every 10hp lost. If you catch it on your first attempt, you will receive a large and valuable Pearl, and also, a golden frame for that ghost's portrait. The number of pearls found determine the colour of frame the ghost's portrait is in in the Gallery, as follows:
- Small Pearls only: Bronze frame
- Medium Pearls only, or Small and Medium Pearls: Silver frame
- Collecting the one large pearl: Gold frame
Area Boss Ghosts do not drop Pearls, so their Portrait's frame's colour is determined instead by the amount of HP Luigi has left at the end of the battle.
- 90-100hp: Gold frame
- 50-89hp: Silver frame
- 1-49hp: Bronze frame
Throughout the game you will come across various forms of money. Collecting them increases Luigi's total G (a currency).
The total amount of cash collected affects a minor part of the ending (used for bragging rights).
There are three Elements hidden throughout the Mansion, representing the elements of Fire, Water, and Ice, and they allow you to find Elemental Ghosts. These ghosts fill your vacuum with the element of that ghost, and allow you to blow it out at things like ghosts and candles. Elemental Ghosts are usually found at an object associated with that Element. For example, a Fire Element Ghost can often be found in a fire. Each Element has different effects on the object you blow it at. For example, the Fire Element can light candles, while the Water Element will put them out. A meter will appear at the bottom of the screen whenever your vacuum contains an Element. The Elements may also be required to defeat some ghosts.