516px-Luigi2If you visit m’boy Matt over at Press The Buttons, you might be familiar with a series of articles he has called “Secret Origins,” wherein he relates tales of how he came to possess certain games of note from his collection. I had hoped to borrow the tag for this, but he had other ideas, so I’m left wanting for a better title.

It’s probably just as well, I don’t imagine I have nearly as many interesting stories to warrant the title as he does (go check them out). Most of my tales these days tend to begin and end with “sign here, please.” Maybe I’ll come up with something later, if I can think of something worthy of spinning into a full yarn.

Anyway, with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon mere days away from release, now seems like a good time to share an amusing little story (well, I find it amusing) of how I came to own the original Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube, a title which is one of my favorites. The funny thing is, I wasn’t even looking for it at the time. Well, not exactly…

The day was August 26th, 2002. Why do I remember the exact day? Simply put, that’s the day when Super Mario Sunshine came out, and that’s where my story begins.

250px-200px-Super_mario_sunshineWhen Super Mario Sunshine was released, Future Shop (a Canadian electronics store much like Best Buy, and is in fact owned by Best Buy) wound up advertising a spectacular deal: Purchase the game at regular price, and get not only some sort of game-carrying bag, but also a free copy of Luigi’s Mansion!

I suspect that like many people, my wife and I weren’t especially interested in Luigi’s Mansion– it was the game that came out alongside the GameCube itself and had received quite a bit of scorn for not being a “proper” Mario title. Nonetheless, we weren’t exactly swimming in money nor games at the time, and I put forth the argument that two Nintendo games for the price of one was a great deal, especially considering the only other big game we had for the system was Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Now I love Melee, but after about nine months, it was time for something new. I convinced the wife of this (without too much fuss), and away we went!

And at Future Shop after Future Shop, we were met with disappointment. Sure, they had Super Mario Sunshine, but we kept missing out on The Deal. While we had both been looking forward to Sunshine, getting it that very day required getting The Deal. Who knew that Luigi’s Mansion was so popular? It always seemed like there were plenty in stock before, but apparently our mindset was not unique. A deal is a deal, after all.

I don’t remember how many Future Shops we checked, but after several attempts and just as many failures, it was no longer economical to just keep driving around blindly. We went home, and I pulled out the phone book (I’m pretty sure this was before you could reliably find any number online with today’s ease) and began dialing down the list.

Nope, nada, zilch, zip, negative, denied, rejected, sorry, no can do, 404 game not found, and so on. It may be my mind embellishing the story a little bit, but I think it was literally the last store on the list that I called, and… they had it. They didn’t have the bag, but they had the game!

…but they couldn’t hold it for me. At least, not initially. I’m sure I left some part of my dignity on the phone that day as I must have pleaded enough to get them to hold it for a half-hour. 30 minutes. And around rush hour, no less.

Off we went (much to my tired wife’s chagrin) as I tried to basically cross the city of Toronto, going from the outlying municipality of Etobicoke to a Future Shop on Yonge Street in the worst traffic of the day, all without breaking any land speed records (as I didn’t want to break the speed limit). All the while, I wondered if we’d make it in time, or if this would all be for naught.250px-Lmbox

We arrived, a few minutes late if memory serves, and I had to ask about the game and they had to look. Nervousness set in…

Act of God, Fate, Destiny… whatever you want to call it, it was apparently meant to be. They had found the game, and a joyous relief washed over me. My persistence had paid off as we were soon rung up. They said they’d call me when they got more of the bags in, but the call never came. Either they never got more, or they lied. I wasn’t too broken up over it, but I sort of wondered if it was a cool bag.

We went home and soon tore into Super Mario Sunshine, and for a while, things were grand as we checked out a good chunk of Isle Delfino. As I’ve noted before, however, Super Mario Sunshine is a game I want to love, but can’t quite manage. Once some of the more tedious elements began to set in, my wife and I both began looking at the other game we had brought home…

Fire_element_luigiSo we left behind the sun, sand, and ocean for a dark, creepy manor in the woods. As it turns out, we wound up loving Luigi’s Mansion… even more than Super Mario Sunshine, the main game we were after in the first place! To me, something about it just really seemed to scream (so to speak) with the Nintendo charm I’d come to love over the years. I especially enjoyed all the little details throughout, and something about it just felt really easy to get into– the controls were easy to learn, but with so much depth in what you could do throughout the mansion.

The funny thing is, to my own personal embarrassment and despite making it most of the way through the game, I never did finish it. I needed to catch a Boo to proceed, yet somehow it continued to evade me whenever I’d look for it. FAQs weren’t really much help with this– they can only do so much in this kind of game.

I eventually decided that I should get a guide for it, with maps and such to show me precisely where the Boos would hide. And being the Nintendo Power fan that I am, I figured that I should go for the Official Player’s Guide, as I could add that to my collection. Somehow, though, that particular guide has managed to elude me for all these years– I wouldn’t even be opposed to a third-party guide.LM_Mario

I’ll no doubt make a point of getting back to it someday– perhaps once I get a good guide, or maybe even if I find the time to restart from scratch. Actually, I feel kind of bad leaving Mario trapped there for all these years!

But even though I never finished it, the game remains one of my favorites, and while Sunshine isn’t quite on the same level in my eyes, both shall remain forever intertwined as part of one of my favorite video game memories– the hunt to purchase both Mario and Luigi together, just like the brothers they are, and the satisfaction of success.

For now, though, I’ve got my sights firmly set on the sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. I’ve previewed both the single player and multiplayer modes on Mario’s Hat, and so far, it’s looking so good!

Images courtesy of Super Mario Wiki.