Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Review

By Melissa Evans on April 28, 2013

When Luigi's Mansion released on the GameCube, it lifted up Luigi's standing in the eyes of many gamers. He was no longer a side-kick, he was now much more of a fan-favourite character. Sucking up ghosts in a haunted mansion with a vacuum cleaner proved to be a nice escape from the traditional platformer game genre that Super Mario games are known for. And even though the game was short in length , it become one of Nintendo's cult classics. Now over ten years later, the long awaited sequel, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has arrived on the Nintendo 3DS and it proves to be a great follow up.

The game takes place in Evershade Valley where Professor E. Gadd's laboratory resides. From here, he studies the friendly ghosts that roam around the area. Not everything is right in Evershade Valley though, as the Dark Moon, a glowing purple object that hangs above the town, has been shattered. This has caused the ghosts to become aggressive.

Professor E. Gadd therefore calls upon Luigi to locate the six pieces of the Dark Moon that have been scattered throughout different mansions so that peace can be restored.

Along with the newly upgraded Poltergust 5000, which can suck up three ghosts at a time, there are some new tools that Luigi is equipped with this time around.

First off, there's the stroboscope. Luigi can charge this item up, allowing it to release an intense burst of light. In many ways it immitates a flashbang, and stuns ghosts in close vicinity. Once stunned the ghost's hit points are revealed and the player must then proceed to vacuum it up by pushing the control stick in the opposite direction that the ghost is trying to escape. This certainly isn't as dramatic as capturing ghosts in the previous game, but it can be very challenging when other ghosts surround Luigi and attack him while he is attempting suck their comrades in.

Another new tool that is very helpful is the Dark-Light Device that allows Luigi to see objects that are hidden by shining it on specific places. Once revealed, Luigi needs to vacuum up the spirit balls before they disappear, revealing the object such as furniture or a treasure chest. The Dark-Light is also a great tool for finding money and gems trapped inside paintings. In the top-right corner of the top screen is a rainbow-colored meter that can be upgraded so that the Dark-Light Device can be used for an extended period of time.Luigi is also given the Dual Scream, which looks like an original Nintendo DS. It acts in the same way as the Game Boy Horror, displaying the map on the 3DS' bottom screen and it allows Professor E. Gadd to communicate with Luigi. E. Gadd will use this to let Luigi know where to go next, but at times he can become bothersome. E. Gadd will constantly give helpful hints, even when it's clear you already know what to do.

Dark Moon has a mission structure that gives you certain objectives to fulfill. You must solve tricky puzzles and suck up threatening ghosts along the way.

To obtain the best rank for each mission, you'll want to perform lots of pretty standard actions such as finishing the mission as fast as you can, sucking up more ghosts then is required and collecting lots of money and gems. You'll also want to make sure you don't lose too much health.

This is great, until you finish the game and want to go back to collect all of the boos and hidden gems. At this stage, the mission structure can become annoying because you still need to fully complete the mission again when doing this. This could have been avoided if once all the missions for a certain mansion have been completed; the player can freely roam for as long as they want, without having to complete a mission they have already played and gotten the highest rank on.

After finishing each mansion, you'll be greeted with a boss fight. This gives you a challenging puzzle that must be solved in order to finish the level. While solving the puzzles you will often need to dodge obstacles in your way, and this can cause you to have to rethink your strategy. Finishing a boss can feel rather rewarding, which is great for this type of game.

One of the added aspects that Dark Moon does particularly well is the upgrading system. Collecting gold thought the course of the game upgrades the Poltergust 5000 and makes the power surge that occurring when pressing A more powerful. Different surges remove more HP from the ghost and the most powerful surge, the Red Surge, removes an additional 50 HP. The Dark-Light Device can also be upgraded this way increasing the length of its meter. After collecting 20,000 gold the Super Poltergust will be unlocked. This fills the power bar faster and drains a ghost's HP at a much faster rate.

There are some very delightful animations that really make the game come alive. The 3D effect truly gives off an immersive feeling that makes the trademark Nintendo art style shine though the dark setting.There's also plenty of quirkiness, as Ghosts will interact with the environment. You will often see them using objects around them, such as sunglasses and shovels, to protect themselves from the stroboscope's blinding light and to attack with more lethal hits.

Each of the mansions has a different musical theme that sets the tone perfectly for the ever changing mood. Whether you are just exploring each eerie room or looking for a hidden ghost, the track changes to match that distinct mood. The music can become repetitive, but it gets the job done when it comes to maintaining the game's spookiness.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected additions is the ScareScraper. It's a brand new multiplayer mode for Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon that can be played online or locally with three other different colored Luigis.

You can set the amount of floors to explore to five, ten, twenty-five, or endless, as well as the difficulty of the mode.

Each of the four modes has a different objective to accomplish. Hunter mode has players cooperate together to capture all ghosts on the floors before time runs out. Rush mode tasks you with escaping each floor before time runs out. In Polterpup mode players must capture all of the Polterpups on each floor. And finally surprise mode, which is a combination of all the other modes that can only be unlocked after finishing the other three modes. ScareScraper is harder to play on your own but with a group of friends it can turn out to be an exciting trial of cooperation.

Overall, the multiplayer is a welcome addition to the whole experience and Nintendo deserve some credit here.

Final Thoughts

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon takes everything great about the first game and combines it into a much longer quest with tons of areas to explore and lots of cleverly hidden collectables. It is definitely one of the best looking games on the 3DS to date and this gives it so much personality and charm. Anyone who is a fan of the original or who is looking for a fun and innovative 3DS game should look no further.

Beautifully animated
Very expansive and interactive
The ScareScaper provides a challenging and fun experience
The mission structure can be restrictive sometimes
Professor E. Gadd interrupts the adventure a bit too much
The designs of the ghosts aren't as creative as the in the first game
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