Way back in 2001, Nintendo released Luigi’s Mansion for the Nintendo GameCube. Over a decade after the original game’s debut, a sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, known as Luigi’s Mansion 2 outside North America, was finally released. Was the excruciatingly long wait worth it?
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon starts with the goofy and very talkative scientist Professor E. Gadd studying friendly ghosts in Deepshade Valley. The Dark Moon, which hangs in the not-too-distant black sky, is shattered by the scary King Boo. After it shatters, the ghosts in the area immediately begin to behave mischievously and uncontrollably.
Meanwhile, our hero Luigi is sitting at home, minding his own business, taking a nap, when suddenly, Gadd appears on his TV screen and forces Luigi to his bunker, via teleportation. Gadd quickly tells Luigi of his predicament and the Dark Moon. Without much of a choice, and no way to get home on his own, Luigi agrees to help retrieve the missing segments of the Dark Moon, each of which is hidden within a mansion. To help him rebuild the Dark Moon, Gadd happily gives Luigi a Flashlight and a ghost-sucking vacuum cleaner, the Poltergust 5000, which is also a nifty puzzle-solving tool.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an action-adventure game, in which puzzles must be solved to advance on a quest. There are multiple puzzles within each mansion. Practically all the puzzles are solved using the Poltergust 5000 or the Flashlight, which includes a Dark-Light Device that is built for finding invisible objects, including ghosts, hidden doors and chests. Vacuuming things with the Poltergust 5000 is a blast, and with it you can interact with almost anything in the mansions, which means you have a massive amount of things to play around with.
Fortunately, the game is much larger than its predecessor and boasts five robust mansions, each of which contains unique puzzles and a distinguishing theme. The first mansion, Gloomy Manor, is what you’d expect a typical haunted mansion to look like. The second mansion, Haunted Towers, is built around a huge tree and is packed with gardens and exotic plants.
In each mansion, there are multiple peepholes on walls, doors and windows. Luigi can look through them to search for hints, or he can spy on ghosts to see what they’re up to or where they’re hiding key items. In one mansion, Luigi spies on ghosts via a peephole, and one ghost notices him, then it displays an angry expression, and blocks his view. This mechanic is brilliant and makes the experience more interactive.
To find the Dark Moon piece in each mansion, the player must complete a set of missions in order. While this structure is fairly organized, it restricts exploration, which is a shame, because you want to thoroughly investigate each beautifully crafted mansion at your own leisure. You can try to explore mansions within missions, but some doors and passages are inaccessible during certain missions.
Each mission is quite lengthy, and you must complete an entire mission in order to save your progress. I frequently paused the game and put my Nintendo 3DS in Sleep Mode between missions. When I’d resume playing and open my Nintendo 3DS, multiple times, the game froze and I had no choice but to restart missions… It would have been nice if there was a quick save option or automatic saves during missions.
Unlike its predecessor, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon includes a multiplayer mode – ScareScraper. In ScareScraper, up to four players can work together to take on challenges in a tall, haunted building. Although the multiplayer mode is tailored for four people, if one or two players drop out during a session, the game goes on, making the challenge even harder for the remaining players. You may even end up all alone. To fully enjoy the multiplayer mode, play with friends or people who you know won’t purposely quit.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is one of the prettiest games on the Nintendo 3DS. Its visuals and 3D effect are dazzling and are easily comparable to Super Mario 3D Land; you want to play with the 3D depth slider turned all the way up. Similarly, its soundtrack and sound effects are appealing. Hearing the chuckles and grunts of ghosts and Luigi’s quivering voice adds to an already immersive experience.
Despite the restrictive mission structure and lack of a quick save option, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a great game – one that manages to provide a better experience than its predecessor. It has a simple albeit entertaining story, features clever puzzles, top-notch graphics, great sound effects and a high replay value. The folks at Next Level Games have done a wonderful job developing the title, and they’ve started the Year of Luigi with a bang.