Nintendo‘s tragically overlooked sibling, Luigi, has lived in the shadow of his brother for as long as he’s existed, but at long last the green-clad hero is finally seeing a sequel to the GameCube classic in which he starred. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon transitions so well to the 3DS that it feels like a brand new adventure, making for some of the freshest gameplay ever fathomable from a preexisting franchise. Gamers have no reason to be scared of this spooky title, because it’s frightening how enjoyable it actually is.
Our story begins when the Dark Moon shatters and the zany Professor E. Gadd finds himself in trouble with some less-than-friendly paranormal entities. Once again throwing Luigi into the role of a Ghostbuster, the lanky plumber is handed his handy Poltergust 5000 and told to begin gathering shards of the once intact moon in order to restore peace to Evershade Valley. This is how the timid protagonist finds himself once again hunting ghosts, but it’s the gameplay itself that really shines.
For anyone who missed out on the original Luigi’s Mansion, it was a game that took away the all too familiar formula of past titles based in the Mushroom Kingdom. Instead of a traditional side-scroller, Dark Moon throws gamers into a 3D environment with an emphasis on completing pre-ordained tasks that pertain to locating items or capturing rogue spectres.
Despite the missions sharing a sense of familiarity between them, the change in location that occurs after completing each world makes for a welcome change of pace — preventing the game from feeling to stale by continuously throwing new scenarios at the user. Making the adventure jump from mansion to mansion, instead of just keeping it in one, was one of the best decisions that Nintendo made regarding the game’s development. This is largely in part because swapping haunted homesteads keeps the experience a smooth one that never fails to challenge players, while still maintaining the sense of mystery that makes exploring ghost-riddled manors so enticing to begin with.
Graphically, the entirety of the game looks wonderful, and can easily rival any of the best looking titles available on the 3DS. Every level has its own unique spooky and distinctive visual flare, while the new ghosts and Luigi himself all manage to transition well onto Nintendo’s handheld with solid looking character models. The 3D functionality, on the other hand, is completely unnecessary, and really doesn’t add much to the overall product.
Wandering around to a new mansion with the completion of each world does help to keep the gameplay feeling fresh, but the mission structure (despite attempts to mix it up) is one of the few faults in this Luigi’s Mansion sequel. Forcing players to return to the previously mentioned Professor E. Gadd after gathering an item or completing a task breaks up the immersive environments that the game’s developer, Next Level Games, works so hard to create. That’s not to say that the levels aren’t still engaging, but taking multiple trips to the same mansion divvies up what would have been a much smoother experience otherwise.
Luigi has two main tools that accompany his modified vacuum cleaner, the Poltergust 5000, which help the timid Italian subdue fiendish ghosts. He was his standard flashlight that emits a powerful, blinding burst of light that immediately stuns ghouls — setting them up to be consumed by Luigi’s Poltergust. A new functionality that the flashlight now has is the ability to open doors and safes that have a light gauge on them. The second tool is a Dark-Light attachment that allows Luigi to find invisible objects and deceivingly adorable Boos scattered about each mansion.
One thing that makes this title worth gamers’ hard-earned money is the fact that it’s grading structure and sheer amount of cleverly hidden collectibles make for some really solid replay options. Those looking to collect every little thing that can be found in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon have quite a monumental task ahead of them, and can look forward to dumping countless hours into the game’s various missions in order to find every single hiding place for copious amounts of cash, numerous gems, and invisible Boos.
For the first time in the franchise’s rather brief history, Luigi’s Mansion also has its very own co-operative multiplayer mode that supports up to four players simultaneously. This exposes gamers to a building known as the ScareScraper, and it tasks players with working together capture ghosts and move from floor to floor. After every five levels, the group of Luigis will be challenged by a boss, and (while the bosses themselves aren’t too difficult) the challenge of making it to the 25th floor is a hard one. The more players are engaged, the easier it becomes, but there’s a certain thrill to trying to go through any one of the random towers with a friend.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon manages to take everything that made the original GameCube classic so much fun, fine-tune it, and generate an even more enjoyable experience on the Nintendo 3DS. Whether you’re sucking mounds of dirt with the Poltergust, taking on a giant spider, or trying to retrieve something from a pesky Polterpup, this title is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable and charming games on 3DS.
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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is available now, exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS.