Gamecube’s Luigi’s Mansion (one of my old personal favorites) finally got itself a sequel after more than a ten year long wait. In the Mario franchise where it’s grown to be mostly mindless multiplayer action with a plethora of endless minigames and reboots, Nintendo gave Player 2 another chance to shine with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.
In the last game, a mysterious letter congratulates Luigi on winning himself a mansion in a contest despite never entering one. He rings up Mario to meet him there to celebrate and by the time Luigi arrives, he finds his brother missing. He gets help from the quirky Professer E. Gadd and searches the spooky mansion armed with the Poltergust 3000 (a powerful ghost sucking vacuum) and a flashlight to save his brother.
In Dark Moon, Luigi returns with an admittedly less interesting reason other than the ghosts are acting up, doing what ghosts do and all. But as you progress in the game, you piece together a whole other reason for the sudden increase in paranormal activity. He’s back with new gadgets (and an upgraded Poltergust 5000) to take down those pesky ghosts, new areas, and with a variety of new ghosts to wrangle.
The 3D’s bells and whistles surprisingly doesn’t hinder gameplay, but makes it rather fun. For the Gamecube, a lot of Luigi’s movements were controlled via the second analog stick like aiming the flashlight or wrangling ghosts into your vacuum of doom. The 3Ds cleverly uses its gyroscope and accelerometer capabilities in a way that really adds to the movement. If you’re not up for moving the 3Ds up and down to aim, the same can be achieved with a button press and I like how it allows you the freedom to choose which you prefer.
Luigi tip-toes through the dusty corridors in a state of nail biting terror, nervously humming along to the background music in a way that makes me wanna pet the screen to calm him down. The ambiance is just as great as the last game with great lighting and sound effects. Everything responds to your exploration as you go through the game and there are many puzzles to solve reminiscent to the Legend of Zelda series, something that I felt is an improvement. Ghosts now have different strategies you have to figure out when trying to clear a room. Some like to hide in furniture like a game of hide-and-seek while some use head gear or items to keep from getting dazed by your flashlight and it makes the game more challenging and never boring.
My only complaints are the lack of checkpoints and the grading system. When your health drops to zero, you restart from the beginning and you have to go through all the stuff you discovered before which can be a pain. The grading system, while fair, judges for your time and I felt that was a bit much considering that I’m one of those OCD kinda players where I have to look through everything in every room so getting a bronze made me grind my teeth in frustration. It was my first playthrough and I didn’t feel the need to rush, but I’ll gladly play it over again to reach the best score since you’re able to replay areas and missions you’ve unlocked in the past so it kinda makes up for it.
Despite those small annoyances, it’s one heck of a game I feel that any Nintendo 3Ds player would enjoy it even if they haven’t played the last one. Gamers who played Luigi’s Mansion the will love Dark Moon because it improved everything they loved without losing anything that made it awesome in the first place; a formula every sequel should follow.