When the Nintendo GameCube hit North America, I hesitated. Rather than buy the new console, I sat back and watched as launch titles that weren't Super Mario titles came and went, so by the time I did purchase a GameCube the following year in 2002, I had some catching up to do. I bought Super Smash Bros. Melee without hesitation, but decided to rent a few of the games of which I wasn't sure about buying. With plenty of time to kill over the long July 4 holiday that year, I stopped by the Blockbuster Video a few blocks from my apartment and picked up Luigi's Mansion and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle to take for test drives. I cleared the mansion over the course of a few days and wound up returning the game a day overdue (bringing Blockbuster's wrath down on me in the form of a late fee that equaled the original rental price), so I didn't have a chance to explore the hidden unlockable mansion that revealed itself following the game's conclusion. I decided to hold on to my memory card save data and vowed to pick up the game on the used market before too much time passed in order to completely finish it.
Then a decade passed.
The great thing about the GameCube era is that the new titles did not stop coming. Nintendo's solid output combined with my reviewing work with GameCube Advanced at the time meant that I always had a steady stream of games to play. It was hard enough to balance playing all of the new games without having to make the time to go back and play an old one. Once new worthwhile titles became few and far between, I started looking for Luigi's Mansion again in earnest, but was turned off by the $30 asking price I saw at stores. I'd already finished the game once, mind you; I wasn't interesting in paying a new game price for something that was basically completed and, compared to GameCube games being released near the end of that generation, painfully short. $10 felt more like my sweet spot, so I sat back and waited for the price to drop.
Then the Wii was released.
Nintendo's GameCube successor captured all of my home console gaming attention between 2005 and 2008 as I devoted time to titles like Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Luigi's Mansion was completely off my radar, although I would see my aging save data on the GameCube memory card whenever I would use the Wii to play a favorite older title. Once I picked up a Sony PlayStation 3, time and interest in going back to a GameCube launch title was at an all time low. It just wasn't going to realistically happen, and the idea of revisiting it was forgotten. Still, I knew I had plenty of time to pick up a used copy at a fair price when I found one for sale. Used GameCube titles weren't going anywhere.
Then GameStop announced that it was phasing out used GameCube game sales.
Faced with the idea that a used copy of Luigi's Mansion in good condition was about to become more of a challenge to find, I started looking again. The average price still hovered above the $25 line, and it's at times like these that I cursed how solid Nintendo productions tend to be, causing them to retain popularity and price years after release. I had a mental block on paying so much for, again, something that was basically just rounding out my collection and offered just a little more fresh content for me to enjoy (although, realistically, after ten years I bet I could've replayed the original mansion and it would've felt new again). Still, I just couldn't push myself to spend the money.
Then I lucked out.
Earlier this year, my girlfriend Nicole and I were exploring some little shops one evening after dinner on the other side of the state. We came across a hole-in-the-wall used media store that mostly stocked CDs and DVDs, but also carried a few video games. Most of the titles for sale were the usual allotment of dated sports games and shovelware shooters, but mixed into the pile was a copy of Luigi's Mansion. Asking price? $9. Sure, it didn't include a manual and the case had seen better days, but I knew I would never find a better deal than that. I checked the disc for obvious scratches, was satisfied that it was in good condition, and eagerly bought it.
Then my luck ran out.
Two days later I returned home and popped the disc into my Wii to finally bust some ghosts, and what did I get for my trouble? An error message stating that the disc is not a valid GameCube disc. Examining the disc in better light revealed a series of tiny microscratches that weren't visible in the store's poor fluorescent light. While I still had the receipt, it wasn't worth the money to drive all the way back out to that shop for a refund. I put the disc back in its case, set it aside, and moved on with my life. Perhaps at some point I could find someone would could resurface the disc, and maybe with a little luck it would work, but for the moment, nothing more could be done.
Then something was done.
As it turned out, Nicole's brother had a resurfacing machine. She ran Luigi's Mansion through the device last month and brought it back to me as good as new. My Wii accepted it and I ventured into the hidden mansion after so many years of waiting. I played for a while, but then had to move on to other games and haven't had the opportunity to get back to it yet. I'm not in any rush. Now that I own a working disc, I have all the time in the world. Check back with me in 2022 to see if I've finished it yet.