It's been more than a decade since the launch of the GameCube and the release of the original Luigi's Mansion, and Nintendo has decided to bring the green plumber out of ghost hunting retirement for a brand new adventure.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has been a rather quiet comer for the Nintendo 3DS. I personally had it on my radar as a title worth checking out, but it was never something that would dominate my gaming sphere for weeks on end.
Boy, was I wrong. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has wound up being one of my favorite my Nintendo games to release in years. This romp through the world of silly ghost busting is adorable, challenging, fun to play and perfectly paced.
Professor E. Gadd is back from the original game. He needs Luigi's help to recover the broken pieces of what's known as the Dark Moon. The Dark Moon was the one thing that kept the ghosts of this world friendly. Now that it's been shattered, the ghouls are on the loose and looking to wreak havok.
Good thing Luigi's got his sweet flashlight and vacuum combo to defeat them.
This Adventure is Downright Charming
From Luigi's animations and character, to the gameplay and into the puzzles, this game is charming from top to bottom.
Luigi is constantly frightened. In a game world where the "scariness" is really just cartoon-esque frights and comedy, seeing the other plumber cower and screech as he moves from area to area in this game is a real treat. For fans of the original Luigi's Mansion on the GameCube, know that Luigi has a humming section in the soundtrack of Dark Moon, too.
Catching ghosts happens in a really addictive pattern: find ghosts, shine light on them and vacuum them up. As you progress, ghosts will toss new tricks at you that makes catching them slightly harder and varied. That progression adds up to a slowly steepening difficulty curve. By the time you reach the final mansion in the game, you're squaring off against pesky haunts that are a lot of fun to hunt.
All of this goes down over the span of five different mansions. So, where Luigi's Mansion for the GameCube only featured one locale, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon sports five. Each mansion packs a different theme, and the puzzles and objectives are built around the relevant space.
The puzzles themselves swing from very easy to exceptionally clever. There were times when I had to set my system down for a few hours before coming back and figuring out which path lead where in order to complete a mission. They're never so hard that the game moves into frustrating territory, but they're enough to reward patient play.
Everything comes together in this nice, charming package. It becomes a lot of fun to consume. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon took me a long time to complete; but, when it was done, I still wanted more. That's possibly the highest compliment I can pay a game like this. It never overstayed its welcome, and the time I spent with it was wonderful.
Perfect for Portable Bursts
The original Luigi's Mansion was not broken down into individual missions.That game was one long ride that moved through a single mansion. In Dark Moon, Nintendo elected to break things down into mission chunks.
There are several missions in each mansion, and they can run anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour in length. That makes this game absolutely perfect for portable bursts. If you ride a bus or train for an hour or so a day, you'll have exactly as much time as you need to move through moments effectively.
Even further, each mission can be selected and played whenever you want. If you want to dive back into an early mission in order to find more stuff or get a better rating, you can do that at any time. The benefit of doing so might earn you extra treasure; that treasure translates into equipment upgrades that aid Luigi in his quest.
Multiplayer is Good, but Questionable
With playing a game leading up to the release date, the multiplayer arm always remains rather questionable. The reason for this is rather obvious: no one's playing. It's hard to sync up playtimes with other reviewers, so it becomes difficult to play-test multiplayer elements.
Apply that logic to Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and you'll understand why this portion of the game remains a question mark even after the lengthy stint I had with it.
I did get into some sessions, but these occurred with Japanese players. The issue there is that I gamed in the afternoon here in the States, and that was in the wee hours of the morning in Japan. That meant sessions were limited, and it took just a little bit longer for games to populate than one would like.
With all of that said, I have to say that the few hours I spent in the multiplayer portion of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon were all really positive. It all goes down in the "ScareScraper," and up to four Luigi's are tasked with either finding the exits as quickly as possible, clearing each floor of ghosts or hunting down the affable ghost dog.
The great part of this mode is that all of the good ghost hunting takes the stage, front and center. It's fun working with other players to clear each and every floor of the ScareScraper. So much fun that it actually had me wishing the full single player was delivered in a cooperative style as well.
If the community embraces Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon's multiplayer, this could be a lot of fun. It's certainly something to play with friends when you all have your Nintendo 3DS systems in tow.
You can play the ScareScraper alone, but it's infinitely better with friends and strangers. If no one plays it, well, it won't be any good.
10 Years Very Well Spent
It's been a long time coming, but this follow-up to Luigi's Mansion is pretty much everything I hoped for. Fiendish puzzles, great atmosphere, a solid art style and wonderful music; there's not much about this game that I didn't like.
I'd love to see the multiplayer section of this game really take off; though, I'm not quite sure that element has the potential.
Possibly the only bad news here is that Nintendo really has no reason to visit Luigi's Mansion any time in the near future. If the big N is willing to support this game with single player DLC, I'll be all over it.
For instance, wouldn't it be great if they released a brand new mansion every few months? I'd pay $10 for that.
Disclaimer: We received a review copy of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon from Nintendo nearly two weeks from the date of posting this review. We completed the game and logged several hours in multiplayer.
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