It’s been 12 years since we last ventured spooky mansions with Mario’s lanky brother, and thanks to Next Level Games we’re finally able to embark on plenty of creepy capers once more in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (also known as Luigi’s Mansion 2). Now a 3DS title transformed into a handheld adventure rather than a console giant, it’s a candy-coated throwback to the days of vintage Nintendo, and while not perfect, it’s a physical comedy-laden traipse down memory lane that Nintendo fans and fellow gamers of all backgrounds can enjoy.
Professor E. Gadd once again calls upon Luigi to investigate ghost-infested mansions in the Evershade Valley. His mission, aside from being scared to death, is to recover pieces of the Dark Moon, which has been scattered across five rickety old mansions. Luigi is a bundle of nerves, tiptoeing here and there, vacuum in hand once more to combat the pesky ghosts and pick up the precious lost pieces to keep the ghosts from going berserk. Though it’s obvious Luigi is terrified out of his wits, he (literally) sucks it up and keeps moving because he’s just as courageous as his famous brother.
Capturing ghosts is a hilarious and simple task, though it can get challenging. The Poltergust-5000 has powerful suction and it’s fun to send the ghoulies reeling with a bright burst from your flashlight, and the struggle to trap the ghosts in the dust buster is entertaining in itself. Much like the Ghostbusters official video game, it’s satisfying when you finally bag your adversary. Sometimes you’ll need to implement strategy – do you let go of a weaker ghost to avoid taking damage from another? Or do you hang on for dear life as a ghost-busting hero? It’s an intriguing push-and-pull aspect that injects the game with personality and challenge, in contrast to the slow-moving exploration in the beginning. But while facing up against pesky poltergeists can be a ton of fun, the new Luigi’s Mansion thrives on puzzles based on the sucking power of Luigi’s superpowered vacuum.
Several keys are hidden within the bowels of the mansions, and switches, cranks, secret passages, and other surprises await the player’s input. Like a great point-and-click adventure game, checking every nook and cranny is not only a great idea but required, and when you finally stumble upon a resolution it feels particularly rewarding.
The puzzles and ghosts themselves are varied alone, but so are the mansions. They’re ornate and exciting to explore, punctuated by quick bite-sized missions perfect for on-the-go play. While they’re usually manageable enough to finish up in one session, when Luigi is knocked out you’ll have to restart from the beginning entirely, regardless of progress made. If you need to quit abruptly, you can’t save. So you’ll find yourself starting over again next time you pick it up. For this type of game, a quick save option would have been appreciated, but this omission doesn’t dampen the fun that can be had.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a gentle, yet exciting adventure to embark on that’s perfectly tailored to everyone’s favorite other brother, and the second go-around is even better than the first. Better still is a wildly inventive multiplayer that gives the game a stupendous level of replay value that was missing in the original, meaning taking friends on your vacuum-powered ghost-busting adventures has never been this much fun. With fantastic 3D visuals and sound on the 3DS, Luigi’s second-starring role is tailor-made for the portable and sports that particular brand of Nintendo cheer. It’s an endearing sequel worth picking up for a scary good time that you won’t want to end anytime soon. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another dozen years to get another sequel!