Developer: Next Level Games
It’s not often that it takes a decade plus for a video game to see a sequel, but at least this one was well-deserved. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, recently released for the 3DS, is the follow-up a title that originally launched with the GameCube back in 2001. And while it was a pretty well-received game, which has certainly gained a lot of love over the years, it’s hard to deny that this sequel is a better effort in just about every way possible.
Dark Moon calls back to Professor E. Gadd, now studying friendly ghosts in a small community, who sucks Luigi back into the ghost-busting business when the titular Dark Moon is shattered, which runs havoc on the ethereal plane and causes the once friendly ghosts to run wild.
Luigi, as reluctant as ever, is equipped with an updated version of the Poltergust from the first game, which allows him to detain the unruly spirits in an effort to clean up a number of locations and find the missing pieces of the Dark Moon. The gameplay is no longer focused on a single mansion, and is now divided up between various locations, which are further divided into segments or acts for gameplay.
Each act tackled for the locations generally involves venturing further and further into that mansion. The mansions themselves grow in complexity the further you get, usually involving multiple floors, rooms, and outdoor spaces. There are a lot of secrets contained within each mansion, and a lot of effort is put into making each act feel unique, despite some hefty amounts of backtracking and retreading of areas.
One of the things that really stood out to me with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the complexity and difficulty involved in some of the puzzles. This might not be a Mensa sized challenge for most, but I certainly found myself stuck on a number of areas, which took a fair amount of searching and trial and error to figure out. I didn’t really expect this to be a difficult game going in, but found it to be much harder than I was expecting. This is definitely a plus though, which become even more evident if you opt to track down the numerous hidden gems and Boo’s tucked away throughout each mansion.
Outside of the single player content, there’s also a surprisingly fun multiplayer mode featured, complete with actual online play (and local multiplayer too). There are four modes available, but the main gist of all four involves co-op play with three other players. You’ll work together as a team to clear progressively harder floors of a single mansion, with the number of floors required dictated by the difficulty and mode selected, along with the clearing requirements. Every five floors will result in a boss fight. Some of the cash earned in multiplayer will tie back into your earnings for the single player mode, which serves as your primary method of expanding the capabilities of Luigi’s equipment.
Multiplayer is a really solid addition to the game, easy enough to get into, and with little to no hang-ups when it comes to connecting with others online. I never would have considered something like multiplayer for Luigi’s Mansion, so it’s nice to see it implemented well here, and that it’s also fun to play.
Another big plus for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is just the pure charm exhibited in every nook and cranny of this game. Luigi himself is often hilarious, exhibiting terrified reactions to everything he encounters, soldiering on despite being scared out of his wits. There’s tons of small details present here that might be easily missed at first, like pressing the D-Pad to get Luigi to call out small lines of dialogue. The individual ghosts you capture, which aren’t necessarily unique in that they get re-used again and again, all manage to evoke the mischievous nature that you’d expect having played the original game. And the design of the mansions is equally well thought out, with lots of unique rooms to explore, secret passages, and just some damn good design that sort of puts the first game to shame.
From a visual standpoint, the game definitely benefits from the use of the 3D screen. There are a lot of neat visual effects that occur throughout Dark Moon that make great use of the 3D effect. And there are areas that are actually aided with the added perception of depth. Other 3DS functionality, like gyroscopic controls, is present but not really forced upon you. You can opt to control the direction of the Poltergust and flashlight with just the circle pad and the face buttons, but opting for some limited motion control is simple enough and works well.
Overall, this is definitely a sequel worth checking out. Even if you’re not familiar with the original GameCube title, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to love about the sequel. It’s a shame that it took this long for it to happen, but the wait was certainly well worth it. What the future has in store for this particular Nintendo franchise is hard to say, but there’s definitely been a high bar set for any future game in the series going forward.