Ah, once again Nintendo have spun out all their games with the title including Mario in some form and it is time to deliver to us a game we were promised a fair while back under the title of Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, or simply Luigi’s Mansion 2 for the Nintendo 3DS.
Our tale begins with Professor E.Gadd studying away in his laboratory surrounded by ‘friendly ghosts’ in Evershade Glade (yeah you can see where this is going…). Suddenly King Boo arrives to destroy the Dark Moon, which sends the pacified ghosts into a frenzy…. This leads us to the hero, Luigi. Luigi is re-recruited by Professor E.Gadd to find all pieces of the Dark Moon Crystal ; each hidden in the five mansions of Evershade Glade; and so we dive back into some ghost-busting gaming…
From the get go the game-plays almost exactly like it’s predecessor; Nintendo didn’t change much (as expected). Once in the mansion you receive the trusty Poltergeist 5000, an ordinary looking vacuum cleaner specialised in capturing ghosts and spirits (that and gems, money, gold, and even vermin).
Sadly the sequel departs from the original in a couple of the ways that made the first Luigi’s Mansion so enjoyable. Unlike the first game where you were given a fair amount of freedom to explore the mansion as you see fit (besides the occasional block that required a key item or event) in Dark Moon the maps have been switched to an episodic level structure. Which does, in fairness, help from a technical view point plus makes it more manageable for the younger gamers. However it breaks up game flow and limits the game’s full potential somewhat.
That being said, Dark Moon is very enjoyable for exploration lovers and those who enjoy the occasional brain teaser or two. Now, I’m not talking on the puzzle difficulty of Portal here, but the puzzles are a nice addition and are very rewarding without requiring you to chuck your 3DS in order to figure them out (it works, trust me).
Along with the puzzles and exploration is, ofcourse, the ghost huntin. Not much has changed since the previous title with regards to the ‘combat’ (this is Nintendo we’re talking about after all) with the standard flash ’em and trap them being, as always, its basis.
Along with your flash light and specialised hoover Luigi later obtains the dark light upgrade which adds a new mechanic where you must use the UV-light-esque filter on the flash light (it never really explains it scientifically) to search for hidden objects that were once there. This is nicely done, especially as for the first few levels you do the typical pressing ‘x’ next to everything so you can get a grasp of where drawers, rugs and paintings would be (which sounds simple but it is a great example of a game developers method of teaching the player ‘how to play’ without shoving a text box in their face).
The Professor loves to bug you every so often mid-game, which, once again, might be a way to help iron out some of the game’s little tykes… but, personally, it really bugs me when he keeps popping up randomly during gameplay to merely point out the obvious.
But if you’d rather just get into the gaming without having to worry about story, E.Gadd’s constant attempts to gain some friends (seriously, who gave him my number?) and puzzles, there is the tower of doom, or as it’s properly known, the Thrill tower.
The Thrill tower is a fast-paced multi-player mode where you and up to 3 other Lugi’s of differing colours (I bags the blue one) must ascend the tower’s almost infinite floors in order to gain loot and such (you gain the game’s currency to unlock upgrades for single player, this is pretty much it as far as I know).
To ascend each floor you and your team must complete short timed challenges in order to progress. Within the Thrill tower there are 3 modes in which to ascend the many floors ;
- Hunter Mode ; where you must capture all ghosts in time
- Rush Mode ; where all players must reach the exit in time
- Polterpup Mode ; where several ghost puppies must be found and captured through the use of the dark-light devices.
As simple as the multiplayer is, it can be incredibly exhilarating as you search frantically for that last ghost and helps promote teamwork as you will need to work together if you want to search the floors as fast as possible.
When all is said and done, Luigi’s Mansion 2 – Dark Moon is a enjoyable platform game with a good use of puzzle mechanics and casual gameplay. Longevity-wise you’re looking at a fairly solid 10-15 hours to complete the main story (add an extra couple if going for 100%) and however long it takes for you to get sick of the Thrill tower (4 hours and still climbing!). This is a title that lets you just pick up and play, and is worth a play… -especially- if you’re a fan of the previous title!
- Simple yet entertaining methodical gameplay
- Nicely animated (looks good)
- Fast paced multiplayer
- Exploration done right.
- E.Gadd’s textboxes
- Levels breaking game flow
- A fair bit of backtracking
Luigi’s Mansion 2 gets a 6.5 from me.