I used to be a game tester for Nintendo, who in turn for me testing and reviewing their games, would give me a small amount of money. It was hardly enough to live off of, but combined with the income of my part time job, it wasn't that bad. All of the games they sent me were still in the beta stage, and although some were glitchy, they were all fun to play. But when Nintendo sent me a package that contained a Gamecube, it both shocked and excited me. Take note, this was in the middle of February 2001, about seven months prior to it's official release. I had tested Star Fox 64 and Pokemon Red and Blue all before they were released in the United States, but never a prototype of a console. I was amazed to say the least. I felt honored that I would be one of the first people to see the Gamecube's start up animation and graphics, as well as one of the first to hold and use the new state of the art controller.
I frantically hooked up the Gamecube to my television, a task that was made much harder by my hands shaking out of excitement. But before I turned it on, I realized that I had left the controller in the box. I reached back into the package, feeling for a controller of some sort, and my hand felt something flat and rectangular. I grabbed it and pulled my hand back out. It was a game! This really surprised me, a game for a console that wasn't even finished? I thought it must still have a lot of development to go through before it's anywhere close to being complete.
The game's case was titled 'Luigi's Mansion' and 'Beta' was written under it in what looked like marker. The disk was pure white, obviously Nintendo hadn't had time to add cover art at this point in development. I could barely contain my anticipation. I grabbed the controller out of the box that I had been looking for earlier, popped the disk into the Gamecube and pressed the power button. The console did not have a loading screen or animation like I was expecting. It simply went straight to the "play game" option. I selected it. The game started up. I could hardly wait. I assumed the game would feature Luigi as the main character which I was also eager to experience because he was timid, and easily frightened. I wanted to see how Nintendo decided to treat the lesser brother in a game of his own.
A cutscene played showing Luigi walking down a dark path, I quickly noticed that the games graphics were dreary and depressing. Luigi then stops and glances down at a map, which shows a large, bright and cheery looking mansion. He continues down the path and finally reaches the mansion, which looks nothing like the one on the map. It looked very dark and intimidating, which caught me off guard. A bad feeling began to form in my gut. What I was playing didn't really feel like a Nintendo game. Luigi walks up to the front door and knocks with a shivering hand. The door creaks open and he slowly walks inside. The game then switches to third-person and I now can control Luigi. I have to say, the games main theme was very unnerving as well. This was off to a weird start, but the dark ambiance intrigued me.
The word "Entrance" appeared on the top-left corner of the screen. I walked up some stairs and entered a door. Upon doing this, a cutscene played showing portraits in the dark room start to shake. A text box popped up that simply said "We have your brother." Ghosts then circled around Luigi who screamed and collapsed, shivering on the ground. The screen blacked out. Luigi wakes up in a completely different room. There was a table behind him. I could control Luigi once more, and I walked over to the table and interacted with it. Luigi then picked up a flashlight off of the table and a text box appeared that said "obtained flashlight". I then walked out of the room and was in a large hallway with lots of doors.
Apart from the initial shock of playing a horror-themed Mario game, it played well. The objective was to shine your flashlight on ghosts, which caused a counter to go down. Once it reached zero, the ghost would disappear. Clearing a room full of ghosts would give Luigi treasure and keys to other rooms. Some ghosts were harder to defeat than others, making you figure out a specific weakness for each. A father in a rocking chair could only be shined on when he yawned, a chef in the kitchen would only appear if you ate his food, it was fun. However I still was a little unnerved at the fact that there was absolutely nothing cheerful or happy about this game. The theme only played in certain areas, and that was already creepy enough, but some rooms were completely silent apart from an occasional crash of lightening. The ghosts also began to progressively look less and less cartoonish as the game progressed, but I chalked this up to lack of development. Even Luigi looked a little off. His face was twisted into a permanent look of terror and hopelessness. His only speech (if you even want to call it that) was screams and cries for help whenever ghosts appeared. This was beginning to concern me. I wasn't having fun anymore but I played on.
Everything about the game so far was relatively manageable in terms of not being too horrifying. Unfortunately, this was just about to change. I reached a room called the safari room. In the room there were mounted deer heads, and two tables with leopard skins on them. I was shocked to see a human skeleton slumped in a chair in the corner of the room. It was dressed as an Australian hunter and there were empty bottles on the floor around him. But what I noticed next chilled me to the bone. He had a small pistol in his skeletal hand and a hole in the side of his head. I had to stop for a minute. How could they possibly put something like this in a game targeted at children. I felt sick and I didn't want to look at this suicide reference anymore. I tried to exit the room, and this triggered a text box to appear which said "I'm going to kill you and mount you on my wall!" the skeleton then rose up and pointed the pistol at Luigi . He fired. The screen went black and Luigi let out a bloodcurdling scream.
Luigi was then transported to a room called the telephone room. He looked very pale and his eyes were droopy and his pupils were gone. He was walking slowly and with what seemed like took a lot of effort. He was in pain. Suddenly, the telephone in the center of the room started to ring. Luigi painstakingly walked over to answer it. As soon as Luigi put the phone to his ear, lightning flashed and the light that shone through the window showed Luigi's shadow hanging from a noose in the back of the room. The person on the other end of the line then said "Mario is dead". Luigi screamed and dropped the phone and his flashlight, which broke on the floor. The room was now pitch black. I listened to Luigi sob in the darkness for about two minutes, the sobbing then turned to screaming. Then a horrifyingly loud snapping sound played through the speakers, followed by a soft choking sound, then everything was silent.
Lightning flashed and Luigi was hanging from a noose. A message came up on the screen that said "GOOD NIGHT" in red letters. The screen went black and the Gamecube turned off. I now sat in my own pitch black room, shaking, this time out of fear. I felt something warm drip on my hand, and realized that I had bitten my lip pretty hard and the blood was dripping down my chin.
The next morning I shipped the Gamecube and the game back to Nintendo. A week later I got a letter from Nintendo apoligizing for accidentally sending me a beta version of Luigi's Mansion.
P.S, Much was changed in the Final version of the game
Well, it has now been over four years since I wrote this as a young teenager. Nostalgia brought me back here to make some edits. I'm surprised I even remembered by login information. I was going to change the story around a good bit more, but out of respect for my younger self, I just changed it small amount. Cheers everyone. Sept 7th, 2017. -The Educated Gentleman