3DS

North America

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

by Neal Ronaghan - March 21, 2013, 10:01 am PDT
Total comments: 10

9.5

Superb single-player and multiplayer experiences make Luigi's second spooky sojourn a top-choice 3DS game.

The wait for a full-fledged follow-up to Luigi’s Mansion clocks in at close to 12 years. Fortunately, in the hands of Canadian developer Next Level Games, the sequel to the GameCube launch title is more than worth the wait, preserving everything worth praising about the original while adding a considerable amount of content and ideas that improve the entire experience.

Dark Moon’s mechanics and gameplay are similar to those of the original. The Proton Pack-esque Poltergust returns in upgraded form, and new attachments such as the Strobulb and the Dark-Light give Luigi even more tools to solve puzzles throughout a mansion. The solutions to the game’s adventure game-like puzzles require constant attention to what you have in your inventory and what’s around you. These are environmental puzzles at their best: clever, devious, and everything in between. Best of all, they’re fair, and while you might beat your head against a wall for a few moments, the solution is never too obtuse.

Instead of exploring one residence like in the abbreviated first game, Luigi teams up with Professor E. Gadd to scope out five distinctive mansions. Each is broken into a few stages each that range from 15 to 30 minutes in length, depending on your tendency to explore or get stuck on the puzzles. While my immediate reaction to this linearity was disappointment, the stages act almost as save points or breaks throughout each two- to three-hour individual mansion experience. This layout makes Dark Moon an ideal and accessible portable experience, especially if you want to replay certain areas to find all the game’s secrets.

The ghost combat of Dark Moon is more or less that of the original. You stun ghosts by using the new Strobulb, and then fight to suck them up in a fishing-like manner. To the familiar formula, Dark Moon adds the ability to speed up the vacuuming process by performing a charge attack, which makes the combat more dynamic since you are also trying to fill that meter while you vacuum up ghosts. The controls are intuitive, with the only downside being the system’s lack of a native second stick. Considering the GameCube version was one of Nintendo’s first games to show off dual-stick gameplay, that the game doesn’t even support the Circle Pad Pro seems like an odd choice. Still, the controls aren’t hampered without the second stick, and the game is designed so as not to make its absence anything more than a minor nuisance. The vacuum generously locks on to your target at some points, and there aren’t many moments where Luigi has to pivot around while using the vacuum or lights.

Dark Moon’s biggest deviation from the original game’s formula is the addition of multiplayer, available in local, online, and even Download Play. The ScareScraper is a delightful cooperative mode in which you explore randomly generated floors with anywhere from one to four players. It comes in three modes: Hunter, where you have to collect all the ghosts to clear a floor; Rush, where you race to the end of each floor; and Polterpup, where you have to find adorable ghost dogs hidden in the environment. Each mode’s distinctive gameplay focus makes it a unique, worthwhile experiences, and the friendly competition that emerges from each nails the balance between working with and against each player. For example, you can steal a ghost from another player by being closer to it when its health hits zero. If you do that for a boss ghost, you can completely sway the game’s leaderboards.

Dark Moon’s multiplayer is an incredible local experience that should have you shouting with your friends in no time. Online play, however, loses a bit of that experience’s immediacy. The only way to convey anything is to select one of four preset phrases from the D-pad, which hinders communication. It’s the type of game where you’re better off using Skype or Google Hangouts while you play to emulate the thrill of local competition.

Collectables are plentiful throughout each of Dark Moon’s levels. You populate your ghost vault as you collect ghosts in single- and multiplayer, level up your gear in single-player, and try to gain gold medals in each story mission by doing them quickly and grabbing as much gold and health as possible. In addition, each stage and mansion has tons of hidden objects, including a hidden Boo in each level, and gems scattered throughout each mansion. While the reward for some unlockables is not much more than a star on your profile, the hidden Boos unlock additional stages, which are totally worthwhile to play through, and add even more to do in an already lengthy game.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a fantastic game everyone with a 3DS and passing interest in the GameCube original should check out. The lengthy single-player experience, which should take most players more than 10 hours, is filled with clever puzzles, rewarding exploration, and smartly designed gameplay, while the multiplayer is an outstanding cooperative experience that could become a 3DS multiplayer staple. Simply, Dark Moon is a top-tier 3DS game that was well worth the wait.

Summary

Pros
  • Devious puzzles
  • Excellent local and online multiplayer
  • Lengthy, rewarding single-player experience
  • New and refined mechanics
Cons
  • Minor control issues

Talkback

geoMarch 21, 2013

So very pleased to hear this.  Next to monster hunter, this is my most anticipated game of the year, so I'm very glad that it's as good as I hoped it would be.

Pixelated PixiesMarch 21, 2013

Sounds awesome. Can't wait to check it out for myself.

ejamerMarch 21, 2013


Not sure how I feel about this:  "Each is broken into a few stages each that range from 15 to 30 minutes in length, depending on your tendency to explore or get stuck on the puzzles."


Fluidity Spin Cycle was one of my most anticipated 3DS games last year... but after playing to completion I look back and find myself incredibly disappointed at the linear nature they took in that game. The bite-sized stages made me enjoy the whole experience less and took away the sense of exploration and experimentation that made the original WiiWare game so appealing. Now I feel less inclined to go back and replay Spin Cycle - either in sections or as a whole.  Maybe it's logical for portable game design to move in that direction with the assumption that most people want bite-sized gaming sessions instead of larger, exploration-filled marathons. But that's not what I'm looking for.


The overall quality and multiplayer modes do sound appealing though. Maybe it'll be a budget purchase for me.

house3136March 22, 2013

It will be interesting to read about Miyamoto’s influences over Luigi’s Mansion once the Iwata Asks is released. Considering his recent statements about Pikmin 3 development making a “shift” to ensure product quality, etc…, I can’t help but draw a parallel to Luigi’s Mansion development cycle; and that delaying a game to make it the best it can be is the best course of action. My Wii U is in desperate need of games, but if Pikmin 3 and other games’ release dates are being shifted to perfect controls and possibly add multiplayer options, then, I believe, it’s ultimately for the best. Games sell consoles, but exceptional games sell even more consoles. Luigi’s Mansion has been worth the wait and I’m looking forward to playing it.

AdrockMarch 22, 2013

I'm glad Dark Moon turned out well. It would have been waste of over three development years and Next Level Games if it didn't.

Lacking a Circle Pad Pro option is strange given the controls of the original, but it's good to hear the game doesn't seem to need it. I'm currently short on expendable cash so unfortunately, I'll have to take a raincheck on this release.

TJ SpykeMarch 22, 2013

The game was in development for 2 1/2 years, so I am glad it turned out so well. It did not look like it would be good when it was first announced, with the controls being a big reason.

AdrockMarch 22, 2013

TJ, you're such a card. You just couldn't resist trying to Spyke me. I'm going to trust a website that interviewed the actual development team over random person #58637381727 on the Internet. Dark Moon was in development for over three years. You can, of course, believe whatever you want.

TJ SpykeMarch 22, 2013

I am talking about actual development, not just pre-planning.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusMarch 22, 2013

Pre-planning is as important to development as "Actual" development is. Pre-planning is where they basically program the game out on paper. Without this stage you would be asking programmers to hammer away at the keyboard like monkeys and expect a coherent game out of it.

HypotheliciouslyMarch 26, 2013

Building a house while drawing the blueprints...

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3DS

Game Profile

Luigi Mansion 2 Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Nintendo
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Release Mar 24, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Luigi Mansion 2
Release Mar 20, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Luigi's Mansion 2
Release Mar 28, 2013
PublisherNintendo
Rating7+
aus: Luigi's Mansion 2
Release Mar 28, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral
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