Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

Developer: Next Level Games

Publisher: Nintendo

Console: Nintendo 3DS

Players: 1-4

Rating:

  • ESRB: E
  • PEGI: 7
  • CERO: A
  • ACB: G

Genre: Action-Adventure

-Elliot Zeichner

Whether by choice or countless delays, Next Level Games brings us the sequel Luigi’s Mansion, in order to kick off the so-called Year of Luigi, as there will be other titles prominently featuring the man in green released as 2013 progresses. Luigi is the sort of character one might find more relatable over his brother, because he is generally more cautious and indecisive, which, if one were to be placed in the Mushroom World, any realist would be. So throughout this game, expect Luigi to consistently don a long, morose face, because it isn't his fault he’s thrown into another adventure. Also that’s just how his face is shaped.

He’ll be in tears by the end of this.

At the time Professor E. Gadd decided to conduct research in Evershade Valley, he’s come across a variety of good-natured ghosts. However, this is only because of the presence of a purple celestial body, called the Dark Moon, which hangs above the valley. All of a sudden, it spontaneously shatters to pieces, and all of the ghosts lose their docility, with E. Gadd retreating to his bunker. It is here when Luigi is literally dragged into this chaos, and is reluctantly recruited to fight his way through every specter, phantasm, and apparition that crosses his path to restore the Dark Moon, utilizing the newly modeled Poltergust 5000.

Even though the Poltergust 5000 is two major upgrades from the model in the first game, it seemingly differs little. Defeating ghosts in the first game only involved shining the flashlight on them, exposing their hearts, then immediately vacuuming them up. With the 5000, the shine is controlled by the Strobulb, which can be charged to stun Dark Moon’s heartless ghosts, which are unaffected by normal flashlight beams. The more charged the Strobulb, the wider it will shine, stunning more ghosts, for more sucked up at the same time. Overall, it controls easier, because the ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion wouldn’t stay still with their hearts exposed without steadiness, but stunning the ones in Dark Moon will paralyze them for a short time.

This technically streamlines the combat, and tightens the looseness of what was offered in the first game, but there are times when it feels too rigid. Using the vacuum or charging the Strobulb limits Luigi’s movements to strafing, which is a limitation owed to the lack of an additional circle pad, but makes changing direction while having one of the devices active difficult, especially the Strobulb, which needs to go off, leaving Luigi vulnerable especially if it’s at full charge. The developers throw a concession by allowing Luigi a 45 degree angle shift in direction while using a device, even though he’s still strafing at the same time.

The design demands less precision on the player’s part, giving lenience wherever possible, but does so without breaking immersion. This is achieved by forcing the player to predict the ghosts’ movements, and when found, all they need to do is activate the vacuum, no matter where Luigi relatively is; they will end up in the struggle.

A ghost trying to suck up four Luigis at once.

Speaking of little demand, the game’s pacing is divided into mission based levels, as opposed to letting the player run free, as done in the last game. To acquire a Dark Moon shard in each area, a series of objectives needs to be completed, which can get overbearing, but without knowing exactly what to do, it would get bewildering. In Luigi’s Mansion, the “objectives” usually boiled down to finding the next key to the next locked door. However, the player was allowed to save at any point. In Dark Moon if the player loses in a mission, they must restart. To balance this, numerous health restoratives are left around, usually from examining objects to simply defeating ghosts, which is especially important in ambushes.

With more objectives, Dark Moon is fairly puzzle oriented compared to its predecessor. However, when you figure that the Dark-Light, a UV ray that can be shone to make invisible objects appear, is used in almost every scenario, then it boils down to shining it on every part of the room until you can progress. That said, there are more times when closely examining areas and altering the environment with common sense comes into play, similar to using the elemental powers in Luigi’s Mansion. Without them, it makes the player feel more accomplished without the game simply giving them an ability to manipulate their surroundings, only doing so with their bare minimum. The real trick is figuring out how each puzzle might carry over into another room.

What could you possibly do to progress here?

Frequently moving in between rooms describes the usual course of events for the multiplayer mode, ScareScraper, unlocked after completing the fourth mission. Up to four players are tasked with one of three objectives, depending on the mode: clear out each floor of ghosts, find the Polterpups, rush to the exit hatch before time runs out; or they can be mixed up. Each mode can be done for a set amount of floors, from 5, 10, to 25, or endless, with a set difficulty level. It plays like a harder version of the single campaign with less puzzles, requiring cooperation among the teammates. While seemingly tacked on, it’s entertaining for what it’s worth, especially since it’s the only part that gives purpose the ranks given out when completing a single-player mission.

Look at how smug orange Luigi is with his fancy, 3-star, gold medal. (Names blurred out to protect identities)

Pros:

  • Engaging puzzles
  • Luigi is more expressive than ever
  • Unique areas
  • Various uses of same game mechanics
  • Humorously condescending dialogue from E. Gadd
  • Online and downloadable multiplayer
  • Difficult, but fair

Cons:

  • Music is lacking, especially in tense situations
  • Few spikes in difficulty

Verdict:9/10

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon exceeds the expectations set by its predecessor, with much more content and its creative use of already existing mechanics. While less mechanics are introduced, each one is accessibly multi-faceted. I can recommend this to anyone who likes action games with a twist.

Value Verdict:New for $39.99 on the Nintendo 3DS.