Who you gonna call? Luigi, of course!
This highly anticipated sequel, Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, feels like it’s taken forever to finally make it onto the Nintendo 3DS. I first experienced the ghoul busting title back in July 2011 and I’m curious to see how my experience with Luigi and his poltergust 5000 has changed in that time. Luigi’s Mansion 2 marks the first solo adventure for younger brother Luigi since his GameCube outing in 2002, so Luigi must be desperate to step out of his brother’s shadow.
This spooky title begins by panning into Luigi’s house, within which he lays fast asleep in the armchair, unaware of what adventures lay before him. Disturbed by the noise of his television showing a fuzzy black and white screen, he moves closer only to be sucked into the TV and transported into a strange world filled with ghosts and paranormal activity. On arrival, he is greeted by Professor Elvin Gadd, founder of Gadd Science, who informs Luigi that a number of ghosts have become hostile and he’s preparing the pixelshifter to transport you into five spooky mansions for you to investigate these paranormal happenings.
The professor tells you of the famous Dark Moon, a mysterious celestial body that has a soothing effect on all the ghosts in Evershade Valley. Something mysterious has snapped inside the ghosts and they have become hostile. This hostility became so bad that the professor had to escape from the Gloomy Manor and hide inside his impenetrable bunker, where hopefully the ghosts won’t find him. The professor wants to know why all the ghosts have suddenly freaked out and this is where his paranormal investigations and research began. The professor needs to find out why the Dark Moon has disappeared from the sky, leaving the Evershade Valley enveloped in a dark and unsettling fog.
Luigi is shown a Dark Moon fragment, which the professor has discovered and is now broken. This purple fragment has somehow become corrupted by energy; it’s a disruptive energy that suppresses the Dark Moon’s ability to pacify ghosts. It’s down to you to find and recover all the Dark Moon fragments and hopefully the fog will lift within the valley and the ghosts will finally return to normal. With the flick of his hand the professor shows Luigi a white Nintendo DS, which will become your interactive map, and armed with your torch, you are transported pixel by pixel to the eerie surroundings of the spooky manor.
The first thing you notice about Luigi’s Mansion 2 is the sinister and atmospheric environment as you wander up the path to the foreboding manor. Armed with just a torch to assist you and the fear of the unknown, you make your way into the manor and start investigating each of the rooms. Once you discover the poltergust 5000, you can begin searching every nook and cranny for precious gold coins. Gold coins are hidden everywhere in this game and it’s down to you to find them.
Luigi is the kind of guy who’s terrified of his own shadow and he expresses this fear with every frightened facial expression as he tip toes tentatively through each of the rooms. Inserting each gold key he finds allows him to gain entry into another spooky filled experience, using his special vacuum to suck up spider cobwebs, carpets, mice and eventually ghosts.
Ghosts can appear as soon as you enter a room, or they can hide away until you reach an activation point. Sucking up ghosts takes a little more effort this time round, as you must stun each ghost before you can capture it. This involves placing yourself in front of the ghost and using the strobulb. There is then a pulling resistance effect with the stick until the A button prompt appears, at which time you can pull and then suck with the vacuum. It’s a bit of a tricky experience to begin with, but with time and patience your ghost hunting abilities will be on top form.
You can use the X and B button to look up and down the environment, as some coins are in out of view areas and can only be detecting by applying these buttons to explore. Trying to capture ghosts to begin with will often result in them escaping. You’ll find yourself running around rooms and fumbling over well-placed furniture. These ghosts can be really fast at times, so you’ll have to have your wits about you and think fast when confronted. If you let the ghost escape, you lose valuable coins, but eventually trying to capture the ghost depletes its energy, making it an easy target. If you fail or are damaged by the ghosts, it’s the end of the mission and you’ll have to start all over again from the bunker.
It’s surprisingly annoying, but each time you meet with an untimely death, you are given the chance to find areas you may not have investigated, or secrets you may have missed. Each room has puzzle elements to overcome, such as achieving certain objectives, activating switches or engaging with the environment in some way. The rooms are sizeable areas filled with dusty spiderwebs, draped wall hangings and carpets to suck up and explore. There are various collectible gems to discover within the game, along with some special gold bones that may help you out if you need it.
Each time Luigi steps nervously into a room, with a whimper and the look of dread of his face, you just want to hold his hand and tell him it’s okay, because you know at the end of the day, he’s going to be alright. He may not be the brightest spark, despite knowing how to use his torch, but he strives to be clever and you can’t help but fall in love with his charming personality and naivety.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a beautifully crisp and polished experience, and the gameplay is well implemented throughout, offering the player a good balance of action and puzzle gameplay with the option to replay missions if desired. The replayability is good, if you want to earn yourself bronze, silver or gold rewards, and with side quests thrown in for good measure, there is plenty of reason to keep going back.
And that is without even facing “Terror Tower”, the games’ online mode. Here, Luigi’s Mansion 2 offers up a highly entertaining co-operative experience with a slightly competitive edge. As a group, the four players must clear the ghosts from a floor before moving on to the next floor. Individually, each player will want to out do the others. Failure to clear the floor within the given time and it is back to the beginning. It may be simple, but the online mode is a lot of fun and somewhat of a rarity in Nintendo games.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 looks absolutely stunning on the 3DS, with some really impressive 3D effects for those who like the slider turned up. The action, combined with the brilliant environmental puzzles, is thrilling, and the game is filled with little touches that will raise a smile. Luigi is no longer the lesser Mario Brother, and after Luigi’s Mansion 2 deserves to walk the red carpet alongside his more portly brother.