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The Story of Luigi’s Mansion’s Development (+ Dark Moon)

The Story of Luigi’s Mansion’s Development (+ Dark Moon)


Hi there! As Halloween is almost upon us, I thought
today we could take a look at how one of Nintendo’s spookier series, Luigi’s Mansion, came to
be. These games stand in stark contrast to the
bright, upbeat Mario adventures that Nintendo usually produce, so how did this offbeat idea
become a reality, and why was a sequel produced 12 years later? Well let us find out, as we journey through
Luigi’s Mansion’s development history. It was the late nineties, and Nintendo had
just began developing a brand new home-console, the GameCube. This new console would be far more powerful
than any console before it, and Nintendo wanted a launch title that could show off this power
to the world. A team was assembled to develop this new game,
comprising of Hideki Konno as director and Tadashi Sugiyama as design director, with
veterans Takashi Tezuka and Shigeru Miyamoto producing. The team knew they wanted to make something
different, something that would help the GameCube stand out from not only its competitors’
consoles, but also Nintendo’s own. They didn’t want to create just another
3d platformer, Mario 64 2 or something like that, so they decided to go in a completely
different direction. To contrast the large open world of Mario
64, they went with a enclosed japanese-style Ninja house for the setting. But …what would the player actually do in
this house? Well, the team thought about how a child explores
all the different rooms of a dollhouse. They used this as the basis of their idea. The player would explore the rooms of the
house, kind of like a dungeon in a Zelda game. However, although the team wanted to do something
different from usual, the game did have to sell. As this was to be the main launch title of
the gamecube, they decided to cast Mario as the protagonist. It seemed only natural. Now to get to work on the graphics. Yes, the graphics were being developed at
this very early stage, as showing off the Gamecube’s superior graphical capabilities
was one of the aims of this game. The team wanted to have crisp shadows that
were dynamically rendered, rather than the static shadows from the N64 games that came
before it. Since the GameCube was being developed at
the same time as this game, the team was able to make many requests for technical capabilities
to be added to the system. Many of these made it into the final version
of the console, one of which was a new lighting engine added to the graphics chip which made
the lighting and shadows that the team wanted possible. As the team got to work trying out this new
engine, they realised that they preferred a slightly darker look, featuring more shadows
than in their original design. That’s when they decided they should switch
out the japanese-style house for more of a haunted mansion. Yes, now the idea was coming together. A game where you explore a haunted mansion. Because said mansion would be filled with
ghosts, they decided they needed a protagonist with a more cowardly personality, so Mario
was replaced with Luigi. So, the idea was finally settled. A mansion, and a Luigi. Luigi’s Mansion had been born. So, the team had a mansion full to the brim
with ghosts, but now they needed a central mechanic. Some way for the player to interact with said
ghosts. Well, when confronted with an evil force,
the natural thing to do is to vanquish it, right? Luigi would rid the mansion of its ghosts. But how? Well, after much deliberation, the team settled
on a mechanic where the player would suck up the ghosts with a vacuum-like contraption. From the outset, they wanted to use 2 analogue
sticks. This would allow much more control over Luigi’s
actions, and add more of an element of skill to catching ghosts. Although the team knew this control scheme
would be a little tricky at first, they also knew that mastering it would be very satisfying. This choice was not without contention however,
and the team did try out a simpler control scheme. Eventually though, the dual stick control
scheme won out. However, many testers of the game found the
C-stick uncomfortable to use, especially for long periods of time. Because of this, the team requested that the
stick be made wider and more comfortable. Just like with the graphics chip, Luigi’s
Mansion ended up shaping the GameCube itself. When asked about this control scheme, director
Konno later stated, “The game may be a little difficult to control when you start, but it
eventually becomes very easy. That was our goal.” Now, the improved lighting wasn’t the only
graphical effect the team wanted to show off – the GameCube could render fire and other
atmospheric effects far better than the N64. They used their tests of these effects as
the basis for the fire, water and ice mechanics in the game. This time it was the GameCube’s superior
graphics engine that influenced this game. That isn’t to say that the graphical effects
in the game were easy to program, however. The dust effect, for example, was originally
a fixed animation that looked the same every time, but it wasn’t very interesting to
look at, so the team decided to implement a dynamic dust system where the amount of
dust would vary based on the level of activity in a room. One of the programmers worked on this dust
system for 6 months. Now, for the music, veteran Nintendo composer
Kazumi Totaka was enlisted, along with composer Shinobu Tanaka as well. Kazumi Totaka is a bit of an unsung hero in
my opinion, having worked on Animal Crossing, Mario Paint, Link’s Awakening, and many
many more. Anyway, for this game’s soundtrack, he and
Tanaka decided to make heavy use of a musical technique called leitmotif. This is where a character, location or situation
is associated with a musical theme. In this case, that would be the mansion and
it’s […] theme. They composed this theme pretty early on in
development, but deciding on its instrumentation was a challenge. Originally, they went with a very synthesiser-y
instrumentation. While the melody and chords were the same
as in the final game’s, it had a very different feel to it. Here, take a listen. his was going to be used as the music for
most of develpment, but late in development, the audio team started to feel that this music
wasn’t very fun, so they decided to completely rework the audio system, so that the game’s
soundtrack was adaptive. When Luigi was in an area he had already completed,
he would calmly whistle the game’s theme. When he was outside, a harp would play the
theme, conveying a grandiose feeling to match the grandness of the mansion itself. When he entered a room with ghosts in it,
the ghosts would sing the game’s theme, and when he was in a corridor with ghosts
in it, he would hum the theme with a grand orchestral accompaniment. As you can see (or rather, hear) the soundtrack
smoothly changed to reflect the mood of the game, which makes the scary parts seem scarier,
and the urgent parts much more urgent. Another element that was added late in development
was the “Marrioooo” sound effect. I say effect, effects would be more appropriate. Let me elaborate. So the game was nearing completion, and then
the team realised: the A button was completely unused other than talking to characters and
opening doors. The A button, the largest button by far on
the GameCube controller, was barely used at all. The team hurriedly tried to think of a purpose
for this button, something that would add to the experience without changing the at-this-point
carefully fine-tuned gameplay. Then, one of the developers had an idea. What if pressing A would cause Luigi to call
out to Mario. It wasn’t intrusive, it didn’t change
the gameplay at all, and in fact it actually added to Luigi’s character, making him seem
more afraid and more human. Now, why effects? Well, if you’ve played the game, you’re
sure to have noticed that there are a few different ways in which Luigi calls out to
his brother, depending on his level of health among other factors. All in all though, there are around 30 different
Mario shouts, ranging from casual yoo-hoo to deranged scream. That, is attention to detail. You might be surprised to think the team almost
left one of the buttons unused. Well, that’s not actually true. They almost left 2 unused. Shigeru Miyamoto was testing the game late
in development when he noticed that the B button was also completely useless. However, he came up with a use for it almost
straight away – turning on and off the flashlight. What? In the early version of the game, there was
no way of turning off the flashlight? Uh, yeah. It seems strange, considering how essential
it is to the gameplay of the final version, but originally, Luigi’s torch was on all
the time, wherever he pointed it. Miyamoto’s idea not only added tactility
to the flashlight, but it greatly improved the mechanic of catching ghosts, allowing
the player to turn off the flashlight, sneak right up to a ghost then BAM, surprise them
with a beam of light. And with that development was finished. The schedule had been quite tight at times,
but design director Sugiyama managed to cram in all the ideas he had. And so, the game and accompanying cube were
released unto the world. The reception was, well, mixed. Critics highly praised the graphics, and said
they enjoyed the gameplay, but were very negative about the game’s length, or rather, lack
of it. It could be beaten in 6 hours, which is pretty
short. Sales were also not great – 3.3 million
copies certainly doesn’t sound bad, but compared to Mario 64’s 11 million copies
…yeah. Nintendo took this as a sign to retire the
poltergust, and there were no new Luigi’s Mansions for the time being. 2009. Nintendo were in in the early stages of developing
their new handheld console, the 3ds. This new console was to the be the successor
to the DS, and, as its name would imply, it would have stereoscopic 3d built right into
it. Now, during the development of Luigi’s mansion,
Nintendo had tried out a stereoscopic 3d mode. However, it was eventually scrapped as players
would have to buy expensive 3d equipment for the television in order to use it. So, with their new console coming with 3d
built in, Nintendo decided it was the perfect time for the Luigi’s mansion series to receive
a new entry. However, at the time, Nintendo were kinda
busy with the whole “launching a new console” thing, so they chose to outsource development
to a 3rd party developer. But who? Well, eventually they decided on Canadian
development studio Next Studio, who they had previously worked with to develop Punch Out
for the Wii. At the time, though, they were in the middle
of a different project for Nintendo. One day, during a video conference with Nintendo,
producer Kensuke Tanabe suddenly started miming a drum roll with his hands, and announced
“You’re going to make Luigi’s Mansion 2!” Next level games were shocked. They immediately stopped development on their
current project, and started development on this new game. Next Level Games sound director Chad York
stated “I’m in seventh heaven.” And so development began on Luigi’s Mansion
2. The structure for this new game’s development
was unusual, to the say the least. Nintendo are known for their incredibly high
standards, so they kept close watch on the team. Nintendo developer Yoshihito Ikebata would
supervise them, and every 2 weeks he would meet with Shigeru Miyamoto, who would give,
at times, somewhat cryptic advice on the game’s direction. He would often refer to TV shows he had watch,
for example, which left Ikebata in a slightly difficult situation – telling the development
team about Japanese television wouldn’t real help them, so tried to help them relate
by discussing similar scenes from English movies and tv shows instead. Now this might all sound a little dubious,
but the team found the advice very helpful. In an interview, they compared Minamoto to
a shepherd, saying he led them as a shepherd would sheep. And that’s a good thing. Just to clarify. However, although they were closely monitored,
the team actually had a lot of free reign over where to take the game. Miyamoto told them that although they were
developing a haunted mansion game, they shouldn’t feel constrained by the common tropes of the
genre, and that should develop more freely, instead. He told them “if you have a good time in
development, it will work out somehow.” The team chastised him for this advice, but
didn’t ignore it. The first element of the game that the team
worked on was the ghost catching mechanic. You see, Luigi’s Mansion was a game built
around the GameCube, and in some respects, the GameCube built around Luigi’s Mansion. The two were inseparable, but now the team
had the difficult task of, well, separating them. Unlike the GameCube controller, the 3ds only
has a single analogue stick, so the dual stick setup from the original game was out. Instead, they opted for a single stick setup,
with two of the face buttons used to point the poltergust up or down. The controls weren’t the only thing that
had to be changed due to the 3ds. The graphics were also affected. You see, playing a video game on a large,
bright television is a completely different experience to playing a game on a small, and
fairly dim screen. The original game’s dark colour palette
would just not be visible on the 3ds. Because of this, the choice was made to switch
to a brighter, more colourful and cartoon-like look visual style. Alas, there were more changes to come. You see, the more open-ended, non-linear gameplay
of the original game works well for longer play sessions, but not so well on a handheld
console. Handheld players tend to play for short sessions
and then put the game down for a bit. Because of this, the choice was made to go
with a more segmented structure, with a large number of short missions instead of one long
one. The team also took on board feedback from
the original game, namely that it wasn’t long enough. To remedy this, they decided to have the game
take place in not one, not two, not three not four not five but 6 mansions. Now there could be no complaints about shortness. Throughout the development process, Miyamoto
was constantly giving advice. Not only vague advice about Japanese television
shows, but also specific advice about elements of the game. For example, he worked closely with the team
the get the right “feel” for the controls. He also came up with many ideas for the game,
such as the staircase boss in the stage Tree Topping. And with that, Luigi’s Mansion was released
unto the world! How did it do? How about 5.5 million copies! That’s double the original game’s! Does that mean it’s a better game? Well, not really. It’s a different game – while the original
was an exploration of a haunted mansion, the sequel is more a series of ghost catching
missions. Different people would prefer each game, based
on their personal preferences. However, these higher sales most likely influenced
Nintendo’s recent Luigi’s Mansion craze. With a port of the original game for 3ds having
been released last month and a brand new entry to the series coming for the Switch in 2019,
the future of the Luigi’s mansion’s series has never looked brighter! Hey there, thanks for watching all the way
through! I’m really knew at this, so any feedback
is appreciated! Also, if you liked this video, you might enjoy
my future videos! I hope so, anyway. Right, that’s all from me. See ya!

100 comments on “The Story of Luigi’s Mansion’s Development (+ Dark Moon)

  1. To anyone watching this video, I'm sorry about the sound effects! I've toned them down a lot in my future videos!

    I'm still learning how to make videos like these, so I'm definitely gonna slip up from time to time. Hopefully you'll stick it out with me!

  2. 5:12
    Even if this is an old video… every person that knows of the " totaka song" knows who is this man, because of this single gingle that's Soo iconic and apareas in every title he has work on.
    the legend said if a new Nintendo game comes out, and Kasumi Totaka is part of the team, then at least, one player will be searching for the legendary song

  3. THANK YOU NINTENDO
    I remember when I played dark moon, I watched a bunch of people playing online, I wanted to play online but I couldn’t, and when I finally got WiFi at my house, I thought I could play online, my hopes died because I didn’t have the online membership thingy, now, I’m 13, I’m a proud owner of the switch (idk if what I said made sense, sorry, oof…) I got online, thinks mom and dad, and I can’t wait to play online!! YES, I CAN FINALLY PLAY ONLINE WITH MY BEST FRIEND, I love u Nintendo, I’m glad I didn’t have a PlayStation or Xbox or pc, but Nintendo stuff like DS or 3DS, Wii, Wii U, and now, switch. The switch was the first time I actually could play online on a console. ( I once thought there was a Luigi’s mansion game for mobile like iPads, phones, y’know, and I was sad when I found out it wasn’t, why did I think that.) I’m glad, thank you Nintendo

  4. I want to know who came up with the idea of the portrait ghosts? They're one of the biggest things that separate the first game from the second one.

  5. You know, I really like how considerate they are of feedback from fans and how they built it into the sequel but personally, I like the first one better. Sure, it was shorter but it was still a very well done game. The sequel, while very good, doesn't have many of the elements I really liked from the first one like the portrait ghosts and the dark, edgy tone. It just felt really cartoony in a series that wasn't meant to be cartoony.

  6. It got marked down for being six hours? Portal can be beaten in one and reviewers were fine with that…

  7. Luigi’s mansion 1 was pretty linear honestly. Especially on several playthroughs. Not that that’s a bad thing or anything.

  8. I enjoyed playing Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon was I younger because at the time I only had a 3DS XL. The good times playing Mario kart 7, Super MARIO bros 2, super Mario 3D land, and most important Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon. Beat the game twice because my little sister deleted my save where I completed the hole game which made me sad that I had to start all the way back, but beating the game faster and having fun playing the story mode again.

  9. I like the fact that the staircase boss's tune is an epic version of one of the parts of the main theme.

  10. It's great that Luigi's Mansion eventually got the appreciation it deserves, much like the GameCube itself. 🙂 Also, it's nice having an explanation as to the design choices for Dark Moon which while the style wasn't loved by everyone, I really did enjoy it.

    Also, Luigi's Mansion craze? There's a Luigi's Mansion Arcade edition too. 🙂

  11. Which one would you prefer? Exploration of a Haunted Mansion? or A Series Of Ghost Catching Missions?

    (I prefer #1)

  12. You were most definitely right about some people liking one of the games more then the other, but…man.

    I loved the original game so much, and the second just feels like all the original character had been almost entirely stripped from it. And now they're only going to be making more sequels in the style of the second game…

    That legitimately makes me sad. I miss the quirky music, the one over arching goal, the PORTRAIT GHOSTS??? THE DARKER ATMOSPHERE??
    I'm really sad all that is being thrown away for something that I feel like has so much less…character.
    It just looks like another Mario game now, and…It really saddens me

    Great video tho! I've been binging all of them LOL

  13. Almost a great video but the "woosh" sound effects made it unwatchable for me. Had to tap out halfway thru. Hope you upload a re-edited version one day that's less sound-effects heavy!

  14. the music in the original also slows down the lower your health is which i find very subtly pleasing but at the same time it made me think i messed up the music. however i did mess up, but in a different way to get my health so low that the change in tempo was that noticeable so i suppose it still makes sense.

  15. Luigi’s mansion team about to finish the game, sitting in their money pile and sipping wine goblets: “but I can’t help but think we missed something”

    ominous closing in on the Gamecube controller’s A button

    “…”

    “Get Charles back in here…”

  16. “…the future of Luigi's Mansion has never looked brighter!”

    What ever happened to Luigi's Mansion being dark and spooky?

    (sorry, I'm not good at jokes)

  17. Frankly I loved the first game. It stuck to the creepy factor instead of making it more funny or silly. It only gave you any relief when you cleared a room in the mansion unlike Dark Moon which had occasional comedic relief. There was so much more creepy atmosphere to the original than the more recent games. Younger me was scared to play the game for a while because of the constant hallway jump scares and really really dark rooms. As I got older I came to appreciate it much more. Not to say the series took a dive into garbage; I think the series is great and really builds up on my childhood and I’m happy new games are coming out; but I find the original game the best in the series.

  18. the mall near my house has an arcade called Round 1. and in that arcade, there's a Luigi's Mansion arcade game. It's really fun, and worth your money. You get to hold a poultergust gun styled controller, and it has 2 controllers so 2 people can play. (with not Peach, Daisy, or any other real character. It's Blue Luigi. Why.) It's better than messing with an analog stick, since you get to point your controller at the screen like a Wiimote. It's worth your cash. It's better than the Mario Kart arcade games also featured, in my opinion.

  19. i wish i was born in the 90s becausel i love the gamecube and luigis mansion sugh my parents and there dates to have me😤

    yes i know thats not possible😂

  20. Would love a remaster of Luigi’s Mansion for Switch … never played the GameCube game (or GameCube at all) 😞

  21. No wonder Dark moon wasn’t good! It was developed by the punch out remake team, honestly both of those games aren’t a good reflection of their predecessors/original. I understand wanting to differ from the first one but honestly as a fan of the first Luigi’s mansion I was dissatisfied with dark moon. I Hope Luigi’s mansion 3 will improve on the previous game

  22. Repeats the same sound too many times it got annoying and I turned it off. Great job except that. The blowing raspberries, whewf sound and the typing got very annoying!

  23. Nintendo Employee: we should work on the main level storyline system
    Other Nintendo employee: Naw lets work on the quality of the dust for 6 months

  24. I never really liked how Luigi’s mansion dark moon had no portrait ghosts. But I’m exited about Luigi’s mansion 3

  25. I prefer Dark Moon. I love the additions like the strobulb and dark light device. The plot and beginning and end cutscenes make the game so much more satisfiying to play. And who can forget about adorable little polterpup?! :3

  26. 2:17 Like Mario Odyssey! It was being developed at the same time as the Switch and so they could request to add features like HD Rumble and motion

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