I always had a soft spot for Luigi’s Mansion on the Nintendo Gamecube. It was one of those unexpected games that was fun at the time, though in a way disappointing as new Gamecube owners were hoping for a Mario game at launch, but nonetheless, proved to be a darling of a title over time.
Suffice to say when Nintendo revealed Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, fans of the original, me included, were stoked. Fortunately the game doesn’t disappoint and is in fact, better than the original, if not original.
To kick things off, Luigi is called upon by the old professor (with the odd face of a baby) Professor E. Gadd, who has been hard at work over the last few years researching paranormal activity. Thankfully ghosts have been mellow and cooperative, but after the Dark Moon is shattered, the ghosts go crazy and begin stirring trouble once again. A reluctant and scared Luigi is then convinced to help recover the shattered pieces of the Dark Moon to restore order.
I think what I’ve enjoyed most about the game is the abundance of personality that every character seems to have, from Luigi, to the ghosts themselves. Luigi scurries along the various areas of the mansion, fumbling around like a scared little girl, talking to himself and shaking in his boots. Meanwhile, you’ll notice all the different ghosts playing around with stuff, having a good time and the smaller ones show their fear of Luigi’s mere presence. It’s not just the personality they exude, but also the flowing animation and attention to detail. You could argue that this is one of the 3DS’ prettiest games, with nearly everything around Luigi coming to life and seeming more like an animated movie than a game.
Honestly, this is one of those games that really does seem to take advantage of the 3D effect, in that the game truly comes alive and engulfs you into the mansion.
As expected, Luigi must navigate the spooky mansion and use his new Poltergust 5000 vaccuum to suck up all the baddies, while also making use of the super-bright flashlight to stun ghosts and reveal their hidden locations. There will be many dark or even lighted areas where it appears nothing is lurking, but perhaps a little digging or smart use of the flashlight, will reveal a baddie. With these two items though, you also solve puzzles and find hidden loot, which there is plenty of. In fact, as you pick up more coins, gold bars and dollar bills, you can upgrade your abilities and Poltergust’s potency, which is a nice addition.
As you progress through the game, you’ll go from finishing off some easy areas, to coming across some really challenging locations, where you’ll have to strategize for how to bring down ghosts; especially the boss fights. Each boss fight, is not only tough, but is a puzzle in its own right, so it may take some trial and error but is ultimately satisfying when you succeed. My one issue with how the game is laid out is that each mission isn’t seamless with the next, in that you’re transported back to the Professor’s lab once you’ve completed it, as opposed to simply moving on to the next. I personally would’ve liked to be able to traverse the whole mansion on my own, picking up missions as I went along, but that wasn’t the case. It’s not a huge deal mind you, but it did take me away a little bit from the atmospheric experience.
Then there’s the game’s multiplayer element. In multiplayer, gamers will be tasked with ghost hunting, as teamwork is key to completing each floor of one of many random mansions. You can play in groups of 2-4 in up to 25 floors. Luckily bosses and enemies are random too so you’ll rarely fight the same boss twice, though if you do, you’re probably doing exceptionally well to keep going further and further into it. I don’t recommend playing on your own as you’ll get taken down pretty quick.
The bottom line is that Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (aka Luigi’s Mansion 2) is a well-crafted game, that almost seems like a point-and-click adventure that has a great atmosphere, exceptional animation and both a fun and challenging gameplay mechanic. While there isn’t much of a departure from the first game, save multiplayer or some really small additions, the game is really fun to play and is one of Nintendo’s best titles on the 3DS.