Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon is a “Summer Blockbuster” of a video game. While you don’t walk away with anything of substance or any real lasting effect from the game, the enjoyment you get out of it is worth the cost of admission. As long as you’re not expecting deep game play, character development, or a compelling story-line, you’re sure to be happy with this particular 3DS purchase.
+Fun and interesting game play
+Unique combat mechanic that never really gets old
+Inventive boss battles beyond the “hit me three times in the weak-spot” tedium
-3D doesn’t really add anything to the game
-Some progression of Luigi would have been nice (he’s still terrified of his own shadow after clearing multiple mansions?)
Luigi has been a character that’s lived in his brother, Mario’s shadow for nearly three decades now. Sure, he’s had the odd outing of his own, most notably Mario’s Missing and Luigi’s Mansion, but at the top of this year Shigeru Miyamoto promised us this would be Luigi’s year. The focus, for once, is on the perpetual “player 2” this year, and it begins with a sequel to what is (easily) the best game that Luigi has ever stared in: Luigi’s Mansion.
Dark Moon represents the second chapter in the Luigi-centric franchise. A franchise that introduced new characters to the Mario universe including E. Gadd (the scientist that creates all of Luigi’s devices, and maintains the ghost-containment chamber) and King Boo (both of which have been featured in multiple Mario titles since). The game franchise has been one of those “indie” favorites in that, while not as widely successful as the core Mario titles, it became a cult classic that the fans have been clamoring for a sequel to for years.
Unfortunately for the teaming masses, which have been rather vocal about their desires for s sequel, the game got pushed back. However, we finally have a copy of the much anticipated sequel, which launched on the Nintendo 3DS two weeks ago. So the question then becomes: Was it worth the wait?
Well, for this reviewer, the answer is yes. I feel, however, that requires justification. Was I one of the people that were vocally calling out for a sequel? No. Did I want one? Definitely. Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube was actually one of my favorite games. The quirky sense of humor and the new game play mechanics (as opposed to the cookie-cutter Mario) made it something fresh and new, and it was definitely something that I could have seen myself playing more of. When the concept of a second outing for Luigi at the mansion was put forwards I was solidly in the category of “Yes please.”
Dark Moon keeps those classic elements of the original outing, the humor, the gadgets, the game play, and then advances the idea of making Luigi’s video game releases his own. The exploration, the combat, the boss battles are all there (as you’d expect from any Mario title) but everything is uniquely its own. Fans of the franchise probably remember how doing battles with ghosts work: sucking them up through your not-a-vacuum (The Poltergust) via a fishing-esque style game mechanic where you pull the stick in the opposite direction of the ghost-in-chase once you have them in your suction.
It’s simple, it’s intuitive, and it’s a whole lot of fun. Not unlike the Ghostbuster games, bustin’ just simply makes you feel good. Luigi might be terrified of shadow from start to finish of the game, but I was having an absolute blast vacuum-wrestling with ghosts along the way. The game also adds to the usual exploration of a typical platformer by incorporating the use of E. Gadd’s gadgets.
Early in the game you’ll unlock two types of flash light (your standard, which can be charged to stun ghosts, and a black-light that reveals objects/items hidden by the powers of certain ghosts) which allow you for interesting options for hunting down both enemies and treasure; treasure which can then be turned in (at the end of each level) for “weapon” upgrades.
What most impressed me about Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon though was the boss battles. They’re a little more inticute than the standard boss battles, the old-school “I’ll flash you my weak-point, you hit it three times,” mentality is (for the most part) gone. Instead, it’s all about a series of dominion-like build-ups that get you into position to take the ghost down, ghost-style via the Poltergust. Confused? Fair enough, let me give an example (without too many spoilers, hopefully):
The first boss fight in the game takes place in the basement of the first mansion (yes, there are actually multiple locales in Luigi’s Mansion(s) 2). In this example, the objective is not to simply wait for the enemy to show off a weak-point, but instead manipulate the world around him (with your given tools) to knock him out and begin the fishing-game tug-of-war. The boss continually attacks you, without hesitation, so you need to be proactive and move at him. Through removal of cob-web (blocking mechanical items) and advancement of the path behind the boss (via fire “puzzles”) you eventually take him down for the count.
Unfortunately it’s hard to properly describe the whole battle-process in written format, and to show off a video of the fight would just be giving it away… however, I was rather impressed with the system and if you have the chance I hope that you definitely give it a shot!
So the game play is solid, the humor is there, and Luigi is getting some much-deserved love (finally). Is this a game of the year run for Nintendo? Well… no. It’s a lot of fun, but there’s not much taken away from the experience. Like a Summer blockbuster-film it’s a fun little romp, worth the cost of admission, but you’re unlikely to walk away with anything other than a dopey grin. The enjoyment is also hampered slightly by the platform. Being on a 3DS means the whole thing feels a little gimmicky. Even as someone that enjoys 3D, for the most part, Luigi’s Mansion doesn’t feel like it really gains anything specifically from the platform it was devoted to. The 3D works, but it’s more of an aside. I’m still waiting on those games that use 3D as a proper mechanic (perhaps even using the slider-switch on the side of the console as a shift between ‘modes’ in-game?).
The final verdict is this: Approach it with the right mind-set, and you’re sure to have a blast. The game is a quirky little show-piece of the 3DS (meaning it is graphically impressive for hand-held, and the art is rather beautiful, especially with the contrast of the neon ghosts in the dark and gloomy mansion setting), it offers a unique twist on the classic Mario world/platforming/combat that we’re all used to via the tug-of-war system with the ghosts, and at the end of it you’ll likely to have had a good time. For me personally, it might not be something I’m throwing on the GOTY list at the end of the year (save for maybe a 3DS-specific category) but it’s not time I regret spending in the least!