Review by MordecaiRocks
"Luigi ain't afraid of no ghosts!...Or is he?"
Luigi's Mansion launched back with the GameCube in 2001, and I've loved it ever since. It wasn't very long, sure, but it was a blast to play and different from your typical Mario platformer. And after nearly 12 years of waiting, Nintendo has finally decided to give us a sequel.
If you've played the original, you probably know what to expect. Luigi busting ghosts and solving puzzles as he ventures through creepy (well, to him) mansions. However, this time everything has been expanded on, and the end result is a game that is more engrossing and fun than the original. For starters, the puzzles are much more varied and and more frequent. Most of them won't stall you for longer than a moment or two, but the various ways Luigi can use his vacuum, the Poltergust 5000, to solve them is what makes them a real treat to play through. The vacuum can pick up pails to fill with water, inflate a balloon that allows Luigi to float, and drag dangling spiderwebs to be consumed with fire, just to name a few. As you might be able to tell, the Poltergust no longer spits out water, fire, or ice. But the new mechanics available do so much to make up for it, and allow for more complex puzzles, so it is not a feature that will be missed.
As you explore the mansion, you will have to suck up those pesky ghosts along the way. While there isn't a large variety of ghosts throughout the game, it won't really feel that way, because the ghosts that do exist will equip themselves with mansionhold items that provide them with special offensive and defensive capabilities. You'll have to suck the sunglasses off the ghost before you can suck up the ghost itself, and your flashlight won't do much good when a ghost is guarding itself with a shield. Speaking of the flashlight, it is now a major component of how you catch ghosts: before you can suck them up you have to use the strobulb to flash and stun them first. It works well once you get used to it, and makes busting ghosts that much easier.
Along with the main game, there is a scarescraper multiplayer mode that you can play alone or with friends, whether local or online. You try to make it as high as you can up a sky-er, scare-scraper as you can as you complete the objective of the mode you are playing on in each floor. I wasn't expecting much from this, but it is surprisingly fun and I can imagine it adding a lot of playtime to the game.
This game really shows off what the 3DS is capable of in the graphics department. They follow a more cartoony style than the realistic style the original pushed for. The colors look great and vibrant even in these malicious mansions, and the animations are superb. Luigi's personality is expressed so humorously and well, that they give this game more charm than any other game I've played in years. The frame rate issues that plagued the earlier builds of the game have been fixed up for the most part, resulting in a fluid experience that looks beautiful in motion, and is oozing with charm. The lighting effects are also phenomenal, the animation and detail in general are just so great that it is nearly impossible not to fall in love with this game's art style. The 3D also provides a cool effect if you choose to use it.
The music in this game is for the most part nice, and fits well into the game. One main problem that I encountered, though, was that the same music was used to often, and a lot of the songs followed the same tune with just a little variety between them. While none of them necessarily sound bad, they just get way too repetitive and aren't anything to rave about to begin with.
What the music doesn't deliver, the sound effects make up for. You've got your standard fare for the most part, but there are also many things that just add to the charm. Luigi still hums to the music, and he still screams and falls over in almost every cutscene encounter of a ghost. He mumbles in just the way you would expect from him, and it really adds to the personality that the game already delivers so well.
Also, the Dual Scream (this game's version of the Game Boy Horror that primarily serves as a map) has a snazzy ringtone. I like it. And while Luigi no longer screams "Mario!" , he mutters "hello" instead, which I guess we will have to make do with.
Another one of my main problems with this game. I was wondering how this game would work without two analog sticks, and the end result is...decently. Whatever direction you are facing is the direction Luigi will aim his vacuum or flashlight, aside from using X and B to look up and down, and this can cause some problems. Not so much with the vacuum, but with the flashlight. You have to charge your strobulb to stun a ghosts, and while the ghosts are almost always moving, you flashlight won't be. It's stuck in the direction you're facing. So if you miss the ghost the first time (which is easy to do because they move so often), you have to hope they are still in the correct animation to be stunned while you re-align and flash your bulb again.
I kind of wish Nintendo had allowed the use of the CPP, but I can see why they didn't. Most people don't have one, so they had to design the game in a way that most people could use. It isn't terrible and never succumbs to being unplayable or anything like that, but the dual analogs the first game utilized just works so much better and kind of makes me wish this was a Wii U game instead. But like I said, the game is still very much playable, especially when not in combat, and it becomes easier to control once you get used to it anyways.
It's your typical "something has shattered into pieces, so now you have to go collect them and save the day" plot. This time, as the title of the game implies, it's the Dark Moon that has shattered (thanks to King Boo) and you will travel to 5 different mansions as Luigi to collect the Dark Moon piece that is scattered there. Professor E. Gadd will reside in his bunker and help guide you along the way. It's probably along the lines of what you expected, and while you won't be rushing through the mansions to find out what happens next or tear up at some heartbreaking scenes, it works for the type of game this is and is what you'd expect Nintendo to deliver anyways.
There is a lot to come back to in Luigi's Mansion:Dark Moon, whether its to three star every mission or locate and catch the boo in every mission. Maybe you just want to collect every hidden gem in each mansion. Whatever it is, there is a lot to come back to in this game that can definitely rack up your play time. There's also the online multiplayer, which, depending on how much you like, can give you some extra hours of enjoyment. The main holdback here is the fact that the game just starts to feel repetitive after a while, and replaying missions is nowhere near as fun as playing them for the first time, even when searching for hidden collectibles. But still there is a lot of content here that puts the first game to shame in terms of length.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon's best aspects are definitely it's gameplay and graphics. And charm, if that counts. The combat is somewhat awkward thanks to the lack of a second analogue stick, and it makes me feel as though this is a title that better belongs on the Wii U. But Next Level Games does a good job of what they have to work with to make a game that is not only fun, but humorous with an amazing charm that expresses Luigi's personality perfectly. This game definitely lives up to it's predecessor, and then some.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/04/13
Game Release: Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (US, 03/24/13)
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