Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

It’s hard to believe it’s been twelve years since the launch of the Nintendo GameCube, and of course, Luigi’s Mansion. Fortunately, fans of the green clad plumber have reason to celebrate; Luigi is back in a starring role. Fans clamoured for a sequel to Luigi’s Mansion, and a sequel they received with the release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for Nintendo 3DS.

Unfortunate for Luigi, King Boo has shattered the Dark Moon into several pieces, causing a peaceful group of ghosts to channel their dark side and force poor Professor E. Gadd out of his own laboratory. With nowhere to turn, Professor E. Gadd abducts Luigi to help him recover the shattered pieces of the Dark Moon, and return Evershade Valley to its peaceful state.

The plot of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is straightforward with just a little mystery sprinkled throughout. The game is broken up into several missions and takes place across five different mansions. Between missions, Luigi receives instructions from Professor E. Gadd; the only other time there is any significant plot development is when the professor contacts Luigi on a familiar looking Dual Scream handheld.

3DS_LuigisMansionDM_0117_01As mentioned above, there are five different mansions for Luigi to explore in Dark Moon, but unlike the GameCube game, Dark Moon is broken up into several missions. I’m a big fan of this method and feel it makes playing the game on a handheld device a little more palatable. Most mansions have five missions, a boss fight, and an unlockable mission – only one mansion has a fewer number of missions. There is little variety in the types of missions meaning you’re usually hunting ghosts, fetching items, or solving puzzles. Regardless, the vast number of interesting puzzles kept me entertained until the very end.

To complete each mission, Luigi must use the Poltergust 5000 to capture ghosts and solve puzzles. This vacuum-like tool can be used to suck in a large variety of items (by pressing R) such as carpets, drapes, money, ropes, and more. Also, the Poltergust 5000 can be used to blow air (by pressing L) which will be useful for turning valves and other switches; experimenting with everything is the key to discovering what you can interact with. One of my favourite uses of the Poltergust 5000 is sucking up a bucket, filling it with water, and then dousing plants to find hidden items and new paths.

The Poltergust 5000 also has other uses including its Strobulb and Dark-Light Device features. The Strobulb – activated by pressing A – is a flashlight that can be charged to scare ghosts, defeat small enemies, and even activate special Professor E. Gadd panels. The Dark-Light Device – activated by holding y – emits a rainbow-like light that can reveal illusions such as items in paintings, mansion furniture and decorations, as well as reveal hidden doors and paths.  

Of course, Luigi’s Mansion wouldn’t be complete without a whole lot of ghost hunting, and you’ll be using a combination of all the Poltergust 5000’s features for the hunt. With most ghosts, you will need to scare them with a Strobulb flash then vacuum them up with the Poltergust 5000. Stronger ghosts will require more patience which may include letting them attack you first, then countering with a quick Strobulb flash.

There is a decent variety of ghosts in the game, and for the most part, hunting them down is a lot of fun. My only complaint would be the lack of agility Luigi has when using the Poltergust 5000. When you use one of the vacuum’s functions, Luigi can’t turn unless you stop using the Poltergust 5000. You can aim up or down by pressing X and B, but not being able to turn around while using the vacuum caused a lot of unnecessary deaths. This is the only problem I had with the controls as everything else works fine.

While we’re on complaints, I was disappointed with the lack of checkpoints in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me much because I’m used to the retro gaming mentality, but sometimes the game likes to overwhelm you with enemies, causing you to bump into enemies unknowingly, thus draining your health meter quickly. This is most noticeable during bigger ghost battles, and especially during boss fights. It’s frustrating to spend 20+ minutes on a level and then having to start from the beginning.

3DS_LuigisMansionDM_0117_03Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a high replay value, and not only because of its entertaining multiplayer modes. There are tons of hidden gems and Boos to find in every mansion. Finding every Boo in any given mansion will unlock an additional mission, ultimately giving you a great reason to keep playing the single player mode. Also, there is a ton of cash to collect in the form of coins, gold bars, and even dollar bills. Collecting this cash will unlock upgrades for your Poltergust 5000, some of which are necessary for certain parts of the game, others just happen to be really useful.

Briefly mentioned above, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon also has a variety of multiplayer modes thanks to the ScareScraper. The ScareScraper is a haunted tower full of floors that need to be cleaned of their ghostly inhabitants. There are three main modes in the ScareScraper, each offering a different way to play: Hunter Mode, Rush Mode, and Polterpup Mode. In Hunter mode, you will be going room to room trying to capture every ghost, then venturing up another floor to do it again. Rush Mode will have you racing around each floor looking for its escape hatch, while Polterpup mode will challenge you to find cute ghost puppies by tracking them down with the Dark-Light Device. Each mode can be played with up to four players locally, and even online using the Nintendo Network. Also, you have the option to choose between 5, 10, and 25 floors, and normal, hard, and expert difficulties giving multiplayer some replay value of its own. There are also some unlockable multiplayer options such as endless varieties of each mode.

Graphically, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is absolutely stunning, and that’s with or without stereoscopic 3D enabled. The 3D effect gives off a sense of depth comparable to other Nintendo published titles, but it’s the game’s lighting that I enjoyed the most. Flashes of lightning will envelop entire rooms, while your flashlight will cause items to cast realistic shadows; a small, but necessary touch in a game inspired by the horror genre. Giving the game another sense of horror is its great soundtrack, even if the game itself isn’t scary.

Final Thoughts:

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is another must own Nintendo 3DS game with fantastic replay value in its hidden nooks and crannies, and multiplayer modes; the single player adventure itself took me nearly 11.5 hours to complete. While I did have minor complaints about the game’s controls, lack of variety, and difficulty spikes, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon stunningly puts together one of the most entertaining ghost hunts in gaming.

8.5/10 – Great

Borrowed a Review Copy

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  • coffeewithgames

    “the single player adventure itself took me nearly 11.5 hours to complete.”
    It seems with this one, and the 3DS Castlevania game, that there are some pretty solid/lengthy single player games that just released for 3DS this year.

    • Mini Fortress

      I’m becoming more interested in Castlevania, might pick it up some day. There seems to be more lengthy single player games on the way this year like Zelda and Mario and Luigi. The 3DS is really starting to build a solid library, will likely end up having an endless supply of great games like the DS.