Don't-a cross the streams!
In my latest demo session, Nintendo laid out a big surprise -- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has a full-blown multiplayer -- and it has local, download, and online play! In multiplayer, one to four different versions of Luigi climb the "scarescraper," a tower of semi-randomly generated room sets. You can choose from among scarescrapers with 5, 10, 25, or endless numbers of floors and three difficulty levels, normal, hard, and expert.
I spent some time playing Hunter Mode, which suggests there are other multiplayer types that they haven't yet revealed. In Hunter Mode, players must clear the entire floor of ghosts within a limited time. The gameplay is simple -- explore the mansion, find the ghosts, and suck them up with your vacuum. Time is relatively short, so it works best when players spread out to uncover the ghosts and then pair up to bring them down. Players generally play cooperatively, but in Zelda: Four Swords style, players also compete for coins.
As in the first game, you must first shine a light on ghosts before you can vacuum them up, but the new strobe light mechanic makes capturing ghosts a little more time-sensitive and strategic. Many of the ghosts have adapted by putting on masks to block the dazzling attack. You can also vacuum larger items and eject them back out by reversing the flow.
While the original game used twin stick control, Dark Moon only uses one. The controls have been adapted to only use one stick, and it's occasionally frustrating since your walking and vacuuming direction are tied together and Luigi may not face the way you want, but it worked well most of the time. You can read our earlier impressions for more control details.
Hidden objects and items are disbursed throughout the mansion, which can be uncovered by shining the dark light at suspicious sparkling areas. While many are beneficial, there are a variety of booby traps as well. For instance, players may end up with a giant jar stuck on their head, or become "cursed" and end up with reversed controls. Much like Luigi's Mansion in Nintendo Land, fallen players can be revived with the strobe light. Attempting to resolve situations like this with rooms full of ghosts can lead to a comedy of errors leading to the downfall of the entire party.
Upon clearance of a floor, a red coin challenge is introduced where red coins appear in several rooms. Very limited time is given to collect them all, so players should coordinate to collect them all. If the team is successful, a roulette bonus appears, which awards a treasure or upgrade. Players who collect more red coins have a higher chance of winning the roulette. There are a number of treasures within the game, which also appear in single player. An additional mode called E. Gadd's Vault allows players to spend cash to buy items and upgrades.
At the end of each session, a full board of stats is displayed, including coin totals, vacuum weight totals, kills, deaths, and the like. Players also gain "achievement" stats such as "MVP," "bulldozer," and "leecher." Even if you don't do anything notable, you're humorously awarded with a "participator" title. After every five floors, a boss battle ensues.
In single player mode's story, the "dark moon" has shattered, causing the ghosts within Evershade Valley to become evil. It's up to Luigi to collect the pieces of the moon and put them back together in order to restore peace to the valley.
Unlike the original game, there are a number of mansions that are each expected to take around two hours to complete, and each mansion is broken down into missions. The first mansion, Gloomy Manor's, missions include Poultergust 5000, Gear Up, Quiet Please, Visual Tricks, Sticky Situation, and Confront the Source, and you're awarded rankings upon completion of each.
I had a chance to play that last chapter, which is a boss battle against a spirit-possessed giant spider. The battle is a multi-stage puzzle where you must use aspects of the environment to defeat the beast while dodging various attacks. I won't spoil how it played out, but the setup and progression was very clever.
The online multiplayer mode is a surprise and welcome addition to Dark Moon, which now looks to be content-packed. The variety of ghosts complement Luigi's humorous personality, and the boss battle was engaging and really renewed my interest in the game.