Here at Gaming Reinvented, we always love learning about the ins and outs of the various video game modding scenes you can find online. Whether it’s New Super Mario Bros 2 or Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Kart 64 or Super Mario Sunshine, many of our most interesting interviews have revolved around projects that looked to make amazing games in otherwise unexpected engines.
As a result, it was an amazing surprise to see that the original Luigi’s Mansion had such mods too! Yep, with new features and ghosts, mansions and mechanics, the scene has seen a huge deal of progress in the last few years or so, with some of the best fan projects being on par with or even better than the original game in terms of quality.
And one major contributor to that comes in the form of today’s interviewee. Named Portable Productions, they’ve become known for their ambitious, interesting Luigi’s Mansion mods, with projects like the beta restoration and Luigi’s Mansion Extra Tangy being only a few of their works. Here’s a trailer showing their work in action:
It’s incredible stuff, and it immediately made us want to learn more about both them and their work as a whole.
So, in this interview, we’re gonna do just that! You ready? Let’s a-go!
First up, let’s have a bit of background info. Who are you? Who runs Portable Productions?
My name is Lilith and I have run the Portable Productions channel since 2012. I’m a creator who works primarily from my home in Arizona. I am, as of this interview, 24 years old and I have been modding for a huge portion of my life since my mid-teens to adulthood. It has been a hobby I have had for many years and I still find time to consistently produce new content for games of the modern era (PC, PS3, PS4, etc) and for those seen in the past, such as titles for the GameCube, Wii, DS, etc. Despite my current pledge to finish College and receive a degree for cyber security, I still plan on doing many mods in the future for many games.
And why that name anyway? I’m guessing it has nothing to do with the movie studio in Luigi’s Mansion 3, right?
No, that’s a really interesting guess though. It actually stems back to when I created the channel as a young teen. I used to produce amateur vlog style videos around my hometown with friends (which are now deleted, thankfully). I have had that name ever since and have never bothered to change it.
What was your first video game?
The first video game I ever played was Luigi’s Mansion for the Nintendo Gamecube. However, I should preface that even though it is technically the first game I picked up in my life, as a child, I did not get far enough into the game to consider it the first game I really “played”. That title has to go to Onimusha 2: Samurai’s Destiny for the Playstation 2.
How about your first Mario game? Did you grow up with the original Luigi’s Mansion?
I did grow up with Luigi’s Mansion. As for Mario games, the first one I ever played was Super Mario Bros 3 for the Game Boy Advance. My uncle was big into consoles before I could own them myself as I grew up in a household where we did not own any Nintendo Consoles in my earliest years as a kid. My father has always been into PlayStation titles so that’s what I had around.
And what games are you playing now?
Currently, though I don’t play many games nowadays, I am currently playing through God of War: Ragnarök with my father and Pokémon: Shining Pearl in my spare time.
Thoughts on the later Luigi’s Mansion games in general? How do you think they compare to the original title?
Personally, as having probably spent many many hours on all of the titles without having noticed. I think Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon and Luigi’s Mansion 3 both stack up pretty well to the GameCube title in different areas. Luigi’s Mansion 2 tried a different formula meant for handheld consoles and playing in short bursts, so I can appreciate an attempt at innovation when I see one. Though Luigi’s Mansion 2, in my opinion, hosts superior combat mechanics, upgrading systems and so forth to the original and improves on the already well engaging combat mechanics from the original. I must state that Luigi’s Mansion 2 is strictly a handheld title and thus should not be looked at as a competitor to the console series. Despite that fact, the developers behind Luigi’s Mansion 2 have brought a great deal to the table as far as sound design, character design and aesthetic. However, it may be worth mentioning most of the fun I had in the game was within the ScareScraper single/multiplayer mode.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 on the other hand brings back a lot of “fan favourite” things like the reintroduction of humanoid bosses and pearl collectables and aspects that may remind a person or two about the original game. I think as far as progression and variety go, this game has gone beyond the limit of providing players with more things to do and more places to explore. Though in my opinion the gem system within the new Luigi’s Mansion titles feels unrewarding, there is no denying the number of secrets, puzzles and easter eggs that have all been stuffed into the third title is an impressive feat. Luigi’s Mansion 3 has to have become my favourite in the series. Despite that being the case, I must take the opportunity to point out that the combat mechanics are, in my opinion, the worst in the series. Having completely backtracked from the engaging tug of war style gameplay from the original, and the upgrading system from the second title. It pains me to say that the slamming mechanics take out all of the hardship the original two titles provided in exchange for flashy lights and rhythmic based combat.
Anything you’re hoping for from the next game in the series?
To be entirely honest, I hope the series ends with Luigi’s Mansion 3. There is such a thing as oversaturation of one series, the best example being Call of Duty or the Splatoon titles. It’s fair to say some things are better left in the past however, for audience’s sake. I hope that the next title is given to a new development team, as I’d love to see another team take a crack at the series and give it new life by sending it in a new direction.
Either way, onto game development now. How did you get interested in that?
Game development is a tricky thing. There are so many aspects of interest when it comes to making games. Some people carry the capability to create something special and some do not. Personally, that’s what I find most interesting of all, the competition, the debate. Throughout my life I have watched many cool and interesting projects come to light. In the peak of my youth, I saw the first build of Project M and the first videos of the previous Luigi’s Mansion E3 2001 project. Those were special moments and I have always wanted to become a part of that, to own a piece of the pie. I look up to many of my peers and I look down on many of them as well. That’s what makes game development special, applying yourself and creating something nobody else can. To have a style all your own, that is where my interest derives.
How about ROM hacking in particular? What was your intro to that field?
This is a peculiar question. I like to think of rom hacking as a sub source of game development. It’s game development on a higher or lower level, depending on the person and the field. One person can put just as much effort into coding physics as one can put effort into decompiling them. You can be just as bad making an indie title, as you can be at making a rom hack. Tomato, Tomahto
My introduction to ROM hacking came at a very early age. My father provided me with my first build of a costume mod for Super Smash Bros Brawl. When I was younger, I had zero experience with installing mods and hacking the Nintendo Wii hardware. After having installed the mod, I would spend a minimal amount of time looking at forums/boards for answers of how to make my own. It took me many years to figure things out because I had no idea about the internet at an early age and how it all pieced together. Times were tough in that age of development but everyone has to learn somehow.
And what made you decide to mod the original Luigi’s Mansion?
The original Luigi’s Mansion is a special game. I find it to be peculiar because of the time it was made and the audience, for better or worse, that it draws upon. What could possibly be so special about a game regarding an Italian man equipped with a vacuum hunting down spectres of the night, I wonder? I assume it’s the mystery of the whole thing, the vague answers given as to why the mansion exists, the mistranslations, the iceberg of information and misinformation, it’s a whole hoot. For me personally, none of that ever mattered. It’s an old game, and I grew up on it, and I wanted to test the waters, it’s as simple as that.
Were there any other mods for the game that inspired you there?
Yes, it was a mod by my dear friend AbsoluteG. Back in the day, (2014 – 2016 range) AbsoluteG was the first person to create a working build of the E3 2001 showcase demo for Luigi’s Mansion. I was pretty young when I saw it and ever since then, I’ve been interested in making a Luigi’s Mansion project of my own. He (AbsoluteG) used to own a YouTube channel which has now been defunct, nowadays we still chat semi frequently and he has also done work on the current Luigi’s Mansion Beta Restoration project alongside myself.
Have you ever looked into modding any of the Luigi’s Mansion sequels?
No, I have not. I don’t see any incentive to modify those games as they already deliver a promising product.
Let’s talk about the Beta Restoration now. What made you decide to remake the E3 2001 version anyway?
I suppose this answer can be attributed to two previous mentions. I was inspired by the previous iterations and attempts by AbsoluteG and LMFinish. I was also hasty to test the capabilities of the game. As much as I have enjoyed looking at the two previous attempts, I felt at the time that the E3 2001 version of the game could be done justice, under my helm. It can actually be downloaded on my Discord right now. I’ll include a link below.
Do you wish some of the cut ideas from that one made it into the final game?
There are many mechanics not present within the final release of Luigi’s Mansion. However, I don’t think many of them would have fit the type of game Luigi’s Mansion ended up becoming. I would have liked for them to keep the overheating mechanic as an option for players who want a harder difficulty but aside from that, the rest of the removed mechanics seem like a null point. For context, the overheating mechanic was originally seen during promotional trailers for the game and featured a gauge that determined whether Luigi would overheat if holding the vacuum button for too long, breaking momentum and damaging the player.
One thing that’s really interesting about it are the restored ghost types, which have behaviour not found in the final game. How were these coded here?
These were mostly coded by my friends, LMFinish, and AbsoluteG, who do coding in PowerPC Assembly. All of the previous attempts regarding the E3 2001 styled projects have had massive code players and so we just so happened to already know each other by the time I became interested in making an E3 2001 project of my own. I went ahead and asked them how they go about doing this stuff and I’ll take a moment to include an excerpt by both of them below.
And the same goes for the models? Were they all recreated from scratch based on pictures and videos, or are some of these older files lying around somewhere in the files?
As far as models go, yes, a large majority of the models were created from scratch. I have about two years of blender under my belt and so far, I’d like to imagine the models I create have come out worthy of their actual counterparts. However, certain models are indeed unused and still included within the remaining files. Some of these unused models consist of the early vacuum model, the Chef Ghost’s tomato and even Luigi’s model itself. Likewise, a majority as stated have been made from scratch, the Ghost models, the furniture pieces and even the room structures have been made entirely from scratch down to the most miniscule of detail. Many of the sources used for the Beta Restoration can be found within a compiled video I had made just a few months after release. That video can be found here below.
Did you ever have to deal with the rampant speculation about the ‘beta’ and its cut content, including ideas that were never planned at all? Presumably quite a few people asked about stuff like the Hunter Ghost and time limit, which weren’t actual features of the original game…
Haha, it’s funny you ask that, as that is entirely the case. Many questions still come in about features and speculation that boggle my mind. In many cases these questions have dimmed slightly over time as I have even made a dedicated section within the Luigi’s Mansion Beta Restoration release overview that showcases some of the common misconceptions behind the early builds of the game. The early builds of the game are so divided and far between regarding dates and features, it has become quite the spectacle to see what the internet has come to know about the early version of the game, whether that be true or works of fiction. In fact, there is even my own work of fiction being developed as we speak that centres around the E3 2001 and various other builds of the game and their many aspects turned into a full-length game. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’d strongly recommend doing so.
It’s also interesting to see that ‘beta’ recreations are becoming more common in general, with Super Mario 64, Sunshine and other games getting similar projects. What are your thoughts on this trend?
I have split feelings about the trend itself, though I must admit the people putting in work to properly recreate these pieces of lost media are certainly talented. Beta or Early Build content has brought upon a new type of community outlook and some may even say that this trend has sparked the interest of many unworthy consumers. To put it into perspective, the birth of the “beta” communities and the concept of early builds has been the centre point for many internet dramas and heated debates. Debates as a whole are entirely fine but this particular audience has been known to cause quite the ruckus amongst not only Luigi’s Mansion but Super Mario 64 and many other communities which I have seen first-hand. Though I tend to associate myself with the developers of these projects and I encourage their hard work and effort, you may find it improbable that I communicate with non devs or common individuals. Overall, I am very pleased to see that there are people out there that possess the will and talent to be able to recreate these things at such an alarming rate, however, I do not respect the group of individuals which consume the product in most cases.
You’ve also made a Project 2001 mod which recreates the Spaceworld 2001 version too. Out of that one and the beta restoration, which is your favourite and why?
My favourite of the two would have to go to the Luigi’s Mansion Beta Restoration, as that is the project I put most of my free time into. However, I still think that Project 2000 holds a special place in my heart for being one of the stranger projects I have wrought over these past few years of modding Luigi’s Mansion and has come out fine thus far. It is a small project in scale and due to high demand by college professors to do college assignments at incredible speeds, I have since put it to the side. I truly do hope to be able to make the short experience that is Project 2000 come to life eventually, but that is still up in the air for now as I have other priorities.
Either way, there’s also Luigi’s Mansion Premium Deluxe, which improves on a lot of the original game in both aesthetics and design. What was your favourite change/addition there?
I would have to say my favourite change here would have to be the visual clarity and lighting effects. The Nintendo GameCube was fully capable of spectacular visual fidelity for its time, it simply needed a little push to become a tiny bit more modernised by what is considered graphical improvements in today’s gaming culture. Additionally, I truly enjoy the new addition of unlockable items that are displayed in Professor E Gadd’s lab. I always thought that adding collectables that mysteriously appeared under certain circumstances would add a new layer of discovery, as often in history, games did not come with all the answers bundled in tutorial segments. Sometimes half the fun of playing the original Luigi’s Mansion was finding secrets on your own (granted you didn’t own an official guide), so I wanted to replicate that feeling of wonder I got with the game as a child.
It’s also neat to see the PAL version of the Hidden Mansion there too, since it’s basically a new hard mode for the game. Were you disappointed by how basic the original Japanese and US ones were by comparison?
Funnily enough, I was not disappointed with the content they provided in the original versions. As a kid I was pretty baffled to find out that the hidden mansion had very minimal differences but I did not know of the existence of an alternative release of Luigi’s Mansion until I was older and no longer had interest in the game. Though I enjoy the PAL additions of the Hidden Mansion being implemented in Luigi’s Mansion: Premium Deluxe, such as the Boo attributes, speeds and Ghost enemy waves. I would and have been considering dialling those changes back, as I believe the original layout provides the player with a progressive start, rather than an all at once approach to difficulty.
There are also some really cool quality of life features there, like the sound test and blackout toggle. How hard was it to code these into the game?
These features weren’t too hard to implement, they required a lot of knowledge regarding the game and its internal features but nothing too complicated. Most of the difficulty implementing these additions properly come from time consumed in comparison to the task itself. I wanted to include sound tests, Blackout toggles, A Museum area and many other features in order to give the player more to strive for and more to do in their free time when they just want to pop the game on to have a look at things, for the over observant type of personality. Honestly if the game wasn’t so technically limited, I probably would have added more and will probably be doing so in the future as I continue to improve.
Regardless, let’s talk about Luigi’s Mansion: Extra Tangy now, since this mod looks absolutely incredible. What made you decide to create this project?
This project has had two iterations of itself. The first being, what is now dubbed, Luigi’s Mansion Extra Tangy “Classic”. This version of the mod was made around two years ago and was purely constructed to try and push the game to its absolute limit. I was entirely inexperienced when this version of the mod was produced so its quality is lacking in comparison to my recent projects, however, you could consider this version of Extra Tangy to be a giant sandbox for my ideas and testing the limits of what can and cannot be done. It was also featured on the popular rom hacking event by Kaze dubbed F3 in 2020.
The most recent version of Luigi’s Mansion Extra Tangy has an entirely new premise which has been showcased a few times in videos I have dropped randomly throughout the past year that sees a revamp to the narrative, visuals, overall quality and so forth. Though I do not want to spoil much, I have a few videos that showcase the new area and grim atmosphere. Both of these projects are currently available right now to download.
And why the ‘Luigi trapped in a nightmare’ story?
This is actually a pun, in the original version of the game, this was used as an excuse for all of the random happenings within the Mansion. This is no longer the case within the newest iteration of the game but it did provide me with a good amount of cover to do whatever I wanted creatively at the time.
Was this inspired by many of the rumours, creepypastas, and other stories about the original Luigi’s Mansion you can find online?
It was not; however, it does feature some very familiar rumours from Luigi’s Mansion’s history occasionally. I believe horror to be subjective and thus that being the case, I’d try to fit in many creepy elements that apply to many types of people. The most fun that came out of the product and its release was seeing the reactions of many different people playing. It really was surreal finding out what people are scared of just by making a horror game with varying aspects that may trigger neurological trauma. I consider myself to be practically observant in regards to who I am talking to, so it was a fun study while making a somewhat eerie product.
Still, there’s a lot of custom content here, including all new ghosts, environments and bosses. What was the process needed to add all this to the game?
It’s honestly hard for me to be forthcoming about the secrets I have and use at my disposal to produce such things but I will say, it took many many years of work to achieve what was done. I set out to learn every aspect of the game as I could and decided to become semi decent at each topic in order to make a complete project. I would not consider the original Luigi’s Mansion Extra Tangy to be anywhere near complete or competent as a game itself but I would consider it a marvel of the time it was made. However, depending on the person, I am sure there is much to enjoy there.
And how do you balance it gameplay wise? While it’s meant to be harder than the original game, it’s gotta still be somewhat reasonable difficulty wise, right?
I balanced it through a system known as the Mega Money system if I recall correctly. This system restores health to the player depending on how much money or ghosts you have caught at once. While I tried to keep the game difficult and tried putting players into a lot of strict situations, I wanted an incentive to continue playing. Through earning health, the player can be put at an advantage when faced with imminent doom. When a player approaches the game and gets a game over for the first time, it usually results in a sour attitude and the reluctance to play. However, here in the original Extra Tangy, I have crafted interesting environments that encourage you to come back and see the next bit of the game that’s left. When a player first discovers they can recover health, they feel good about getting that little bit of health. When a player dies after being coaxed in by the health recovery and the interesting environments, they’ll go “oh hey, this is pretty interesting, let’s see if I can do better”. A Player will be progressively moved through different levels of difficulty despite the game being “hard” all the way through, it never takes away from the fun. That’s the way I crafted it, it’s psychological, it’s good game development. Though I consider it bugged and incomplete, it (Extra Tangy Classic) has accomplished what it set out to do and I hope that the final release will give people hours of fun to be had, difficult or not.
What’s your favourite new ghost or boss in this game?
My favourite boss in the game has got to be the new central villain known as Madame Widow. There have been many pre-release screenshots of the enemy floating around on the interwebs but unfortunately due to circumstances I was not able to show a preview of the finished boss fight. To put it into perspective, the main villain known as Madame Widow would come to the player in the form of a mask (much like masks seen in the Victorian age) with many spider-like appendages. The character itself was still in concept when the boss fight was finished but it consisted of the first ever custom boss fight in regards to Luigi’s Mansion. It consisted of three stages of threat and would have been quite the treat to show. I truly wish I still had those pre-screens to show you but unfortunately, I no longer have them. There was fan concept art with the character however that I do have that I’ll pin here.
Any you’re excited to work on in future, that haven’t been showcased yet?
Pretty much the latter. There haven’t been many bosses to be fully realised for that version of the game but the new version of the game should feature some interesting foes.
The new soundtrack sounds great too. Did you compose it yourself?
Yes, the new soundtrack is entirely composed by me. I have many years on my belt regarding composition and making music. Every song was made from scratch and reworked to fit within the Luigi’s Mansion soundfonts and engine. The sound engine for Luigi’s Mansion is a bit of a sticky pickle so it takes a lot of time to organise the music and make them run off of sequenced applications.
What songs are your favourites here?
My favourite song would have to be the main melody heard in the parlour area. I composed that song in Mexico on one of my really beaten-up laptops when first learning to mod the game. That theme holds a special place in my heart because of the circumstances. I spent many hours on that theme and I think it really shows what someone can make when they don’t have an internet connection and anything else to do but focus on composing a singular track.
Is King Boo still the main villain here? On the one hand it’s Luigi’s Mansion, but on the other hand, this mod is so insane it feels like there could be a twist there…
There is indeed a twist, as I have discussed above, the central villain of the story is not King Boo, but a brand-new antagonist. However, though I do plan to carry on the antagonist concept to the latest version of the project, the story is very much still being conceptualised.
Still, all of these mods have gotten a great reception online, with the Luigi’s Mansion community really enjoying your work. How does it feel knowing so many people have played your games?
I absolutely adore my community members, there have been many people I have met within that space that enjoy and give me respect for the amount of effort that truly goes into creating these projects and I respect them for it. There is a complete understanding of the personal space of the creator and for that I could not be more grateful. Though most times I do come off across as pessimistic or judgemental, though entirely true, I think many people are deserving of these kinds of experiences. If someone applies common sense in a conversation there is no reason we cannot find something to talk about and that is exactly what I have seen in the past year running my own community. When I was younger, I would scrounge for anything related to Luigi’s Mansion and having a brand-new experience so I can appreciate the fact that I may have put people at ease. We now live in an age where you can google Luigi’s Mansion Beta Download and come upon a proper download with a working product to scratch an itch untouchable before now. Knowing I have contributed to doing something of value on the internet is a good feeling. For my pride and for my followers and probably anyone else who just so happens to want to play that sort of thing.
And how is the rest of the Luigi’s Mansion modding scene doing in general? What other projects are you excited about?
Certainly, we have been doing quite well, I have just started releasing tutorials on modding the game as of recently. I hope if there is anyone out there who wants to have a go at Modding Luigi’s Mansion, they visit the tutorial series or the brand new Discord I have made for modding the game. I’ll include a link to that playlist below.
There is one project in particular I am looking forward to and that is what is currently dubbed “Project 2” by my friend LMFinish. It consists of a mania type gameplay that includes many cool custom code elements and interesting environments. I won’t spoil much due to our sacred friendship N.D.A (lol) but my favourite aspect so far is the system he has created for ghosts that have a chance to spawn a rare variant of themselves much like shiny Pokémon in the Pokémon series. That’s the only Luigi’s Mansion project I am currently looking forward to as far as rom hacks go for Luigi’s Mansion.
However, you’ve not just worked on Luigi’s Mansion, you’ve also worked on games like Pikmin 2, Mario Kart Double Dash and Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm too. What inspires you to get into making mods for a specific game or series?
As far as making mods for a specific series, it usually comes down to whether I see the opportunity to improve a game. Luigi’s Mansion is a special case since I have gone beyond just improving the game itself and delved into different genres of creation. Double Dash, Storm Series and Pikmin 2 all provide solid games and of course, if they can be improved or added to, I will take the opportunity to do so.
Are there any other games you want to make mods for in future?
I may or may not want to make mods for the next instalment of the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series at a later date.
What about other projects? What will you do once your three main mods are finished?
To be honest, when my projects are finished, I will probably move onto other games. I am currently studying in college so it is entirely possible that this hobby may fade at a later date and time from my life. However, I do plan to complete what I have shown thus far despite probably working a full-time job in the future. Only time can tell.
Finally, what advice would you have to someone looking to get into Luigi’s Mansion modding, or perhaps game development as a whole?
I would advise them to take a look at my tutorial series, even though it’s in the earliest stages. I would also advise them to go ahead and join the Discord if they need help or want to discuss working on things in a public, helpful and friendly environment. I’ll link both below. If they are looking to get into game development, I would advise them to take courses if they have the free time on developing for Unreal Engine. Everything in the industry is seemingly moving in that direction so I’d advise to start getting good at working with that software first and foremost. Maybe try picking up a language or two as well. (C++, C, Python, etc)
Thanks for the awesome advice there Lilith! Yeah, your tutorial playlist will definitely help many budding Luigi’s Mansion modders, since it’s a very detailed guide to how to change just about everything in the original game. And joining the Discord is a good suggestion too, especially given how many awesome resources they’ll find there as well.
But as you said, it all depends on what their goals are here. Are they interested in modding an existing game, like one from the Mario or Zelda or Sonic series? If so, it’s probably best to hunt down the right modding community for that, which will likely have its own forums, site or Discord server with more resources and a helpful community.
And if they’re interested in more original game development, well learning a programming language is a good a place to start as any. After all, each new programming language gets easier to learn the last, and the fundamentals will help a lot more than mastering any particular engine ever will. Best to learn something like C++ first, and then learn the ins and outs of Unreal or Unity after that.
Still, that’s the interview over now. So, what do you think? Did you enjoy learning about the Luigi’s Mansion modding community, and Lilith’s amazing work on hacks like Luigi’s Mansion Premium Deluxe and Luigi’s Mansion Extra Tangy? Which of these mods are you most excited to try out in future?
Leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments below, over on social media, or on our Discord server today!
Portable Productions on Social Media
- The Forbidden Fruit (Portable Productions Official Website)
- The Main Portable Productions YouTube Channel
- The Portable Productions Music Channel
- Portable Productions on Twitter
- Portable Productions on Twitch
- The Portable Productions Patreon (for Discord Access)
- The Official Portable Productions Discord Server