Title: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Release Date: March 24, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Next Level Games)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone” for Crude Humor and Mild Cartoon Violence
Luigi’s Mansion was a legendary GameCube title. It was one of the system’s best selling and most beloved games. A sequel is going to have a big vacuum to fill. Fortunately, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon not only meets all of my expectations, it exceeds them. The result is one of the best games you get get on the 3DS.
Who ya gonna call? Luigi!
Evershade Valley was the perfect place for Doctor Elvin Gadd to conduct his paranormal research. Every possible region was haunted, but the area’s mysterious Dark Moon had a calming effect on all ghosts. As a result, E. Gadd and his Toad research assistants were able to work freely and happily with the specters, conducting productive research into the afterlife and their ephemeral nature.
Then, a King Boo came along and shattered the Dark Moon. The ghosts went berserk and E. Gadd had to retreat to an underground bunker. From there, he called the only person he knew would be capable of capturing them and reclaiming the Dark Moon pieces – Luigi!
After sucking Luigi through his TV with the new Pixelator and convincing him that the ghosts must be subdued so they don’t venture outside of the valley, E. Gadd sends him off to claim the new Poltergust 5000 and save the day by cleaning up every location, both literally and figuratively.
In this game, sucking is a good thing.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an example of an adventure game at its finest. Luigi goes into haunted locations with an objective. Perhaps it’s to find an item, sometimes to explore an area and always to capture every ghost. He makes his way through, solving puzzles, cleaning areas and capturing a surprisingly wide assortment of specters. If an area is infested, the exits will temporarily seal off and Luigi will have to wear out his opponents. When he sees where they are, he must stun them with his flashlight, then suck them up into the Poltergust 5000, pressing A occasionally to do a massive inhale to weaken the ghosts. When all are captured, the location returns to normal. E. Gadd keeps in touch occasionally, contacting Luigi via the Dual Scream (DS), a unit which also shows an area map and mission objectives on the touch screen. When the job is done, the Pixelator teleports Luigi back to the bunker.
What’s really great is that Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon challenges players. There are numerous puzzles presented throughout the game and players won’t know what to do unless they think critically. These come up as supplemental exercises, such as finding a way inside of a beaker to get a gem, or as fundamental story events to pass through to a new area or perhaps even defeat a boss. Actually, the first boss is a perfect example. Defeating a monstrous spider is a three step task, which involves Luigi needing to make use of background hazards and elements to lure out a ghost so it can be inhaled. I was impressed by the game’s cleverness and inventive use of the Poltergust 5000. I especially like how the vacuum can be used to carry items (or Toads), shoot projectiles or inflate balloons to reach new areas.
One of the major criticisms of the original Luigi’s Mansion was the length. It was a really short game, and I remember beating it in one night. That won’t happen with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. While the missions in each mansion are broken up into bite-sized segments that can typically be completed in about fifteen minutes, there are multiple locations to visit and at least six missions in each spot. In addition, I felt compelled to replay each mission. Gemstones are hidden throughout each area, waiting to be collected. Not to mention Boos are stashed away in each of the main missions. Finding their spots with the Dark Light Detector and capturing them unlocks something of a free-play mode for each mansion where players can take as much time as they like to clear out ghosts, having access to every room.
Of course, players don’t always have as much time as they’d like to explore areas. The multiplayer modes are all timed. The Polterpup and Hunter modes each provide five minutes on each floor to complete an objective, while Rush has a timer that starts at 30 seconds and can only be boosted by finding more time in hidden locations or on captured ghosts. Still, the limit was only stress-inducing for me in the Rush mode, since finding the exit drove me nuts even when I was working with other players. With Polterpup and Hunter mode, five minutes was more than enough time, especially since a complete match for either lasts at least 25 minutes.
Speaking of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon‘s multiplayer, Next Level Games handled it perfectly. While Polterpup is my favorite, all three are very playable. Two things especially stood out for me. First, I really appreciate the download-play multiplayer and the ability to go through the challenges alone. It means you don’t have to rely on other people. Second, I like the progression system. The Luigis in a multiplayer match get more powerful based on the amount of gold collected, but the improvements only apply to the one match. That way, people aren’t overleveled and only seeking out matches with other players with the same amount of expertise. Everyone is equal and grows stronger together to face the task at hand. It’s a great way to encourage teamwork.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is yet another perfect 3DS game
Like Fire Emblem Awakening and Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon proves you can’t go wrong with a first party 3DS game. Nintendo knows what they’re doing with the handheld and if you grab a game from them, it’s going to be of the highest quality. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an absolute delight. It looks gorgeous, is filled with personality, has plenty of replay value thanks to hidden gems, Boos and extra levels and the multiplayer complements the entire experience. Ten years from now, when people look back at the 3DS, I think Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon will be heralded as one of the system’s best games.
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