Luigi returns with much more glory than even I anticipated!
May 3, 2002 holds a very special place in my heart. I still remember every detail. I was 12 and had been saving for weeks to buy the new Nintendo system: the GameCube. For months I had been hearing about this game called Luigi's Mansion and couldn’t wait to try it. I played through the vacuum-sucking adventure during my first weekend with the system and enjoyed every moment of it. Sure, the game was a bit on the short side, but I was much more forgiving back then. Now after eleven years, Luigi and the Poltergust return for a new adventure. The wait has been well worth it.
Developed by Next Level Games, Luigi's Mansion 2 once again puts the player in the shoes of Mario's brother and this time experience is bigger and better. The game is set in Evershade Valley, where Professor E. Gadd has continued his research on ghosts. Surprisingly he and the ghosts are on good terms at the start, but this changes with the shattering of the Dark Moon. It is up to Luigi to figure out what has happened and to find shards of the moon in each of five different mansions.
Luigi's Mansion 2 is cleverly written, as seen mostly through Professor E. Gadd’s banter. Luigi communicates through his emotions, as do the ghosts, and the game does a wonderful job of showing that. The characters tell you a lot through their body language and this is comparable to a humoristic silent film. When you see Luigi getting really scared, you can only laugh and smile. The various ghosts are wildly different from those seen in the original game. They have more charm and serve more of a purpose here. The bunch constantly causes mischief and makes the journey even harder for poor Luigi. My personal favorite is the Polterpup, a cute ghost dog that can bail you out during the roughest parts of the adventure. You are able to collect special golden bones, which he will snag up when you're down and get you back in the race.
The structure in Luigi's Mansion 2 is similar to that of the original game: you travel from room to room solving puzzles and trying to capture those spooky buggers. What makes this game stand out is the variety of mansions and how they are set up. Every mansion in the game has six stages, each taking 15-35 minutes to complete depending on difficulty. In spite of this change in structure, the slightly open nature of the original remains in tact. You can still explore the environments and delve further into new chambers with each mission. While I had problems with similar structures in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, here it seems like more of a natural fit and didn't ruin the experience for me. Even better, players are encouraged to replay missions in order to achieve a higher rank: bronze, silver or gold. Additionally, there are special gems to find in every mansion, which makes for a fun additional side quest!
Ghosts are collected using a controlling manner that can be best described as fishing. First, enemies are stunned with the Strobulb, which is a quick, flashing light, activated by pressing the A button. After that, you will use the R button to try to suck up the ghost. While this process is rough, as before, it is made slightly easier thanks to a new Full-Power Vacuum attack. This allows you to reel in ghosts snappier and deduct a good amount of their hit points. You can also suck up items in the environments to solve puzzles and remove obstacles to reveal hidden goodies.
The touchscreen of the Nintendo 3DS is used to display information about collected treasure, Luigi's health and items that need to be found. There is also a handy map, with which you can plan your next move. Unfortunately, the whole system is perhaps better suited for dual sticks, which the 3DS lacks. You are required to suck up things from above, using either the gyroscope or the X and B buttons. The new system works surprisingly well and you get used to it over time, but it would have nice to at least have the option to use the Circle Pad Pro for dual stick play.
Another new addition to the game is the Dark-Light Device, which can be used to bring out objects and creatures that are trapped in the shadows. After using the device for a set amount of time, the object will only halfway reveal itself. At this point, you will have to suck up special Spirit Balls, which make sure that the thing remains hidden. The reward is access to new doors and secrets that are required throughout the adventure.
The shiniest new feature of the game is, of course, the multiplayer mode. The ScareScraper offers three different cooperative options to players, letting them duke it out against a horde of angry ghosts. In Polterpup, you have to track down various ghost dogs in the chambers and try to snag them with your vacuum. Hunter requires you to beat ghosts on every floor in a set amount of time. Finally in Rush, you will have to race to clear every floor, working on your skills as a team.
I honestly never get too deep in multiplayer games, but the mode in Luigi's Mansion 2 really appealed to me. The levels are always randomly generated and, as in the Mario Kart games, there are plenty of chances to be a thorn in your opponent’s side. A good example is how you can snap up ghosts others are working on, giving you a better spot on the leaderboards. After spending some time with it, I found that the various modes were fun and interesting additions to an already solid game. It supports single-cart download play, as well as local and online multiplayer, so there is always an opportunity to find a game to play. Playing multiplayer will even benefit the single player campaign, since earned gold is added to the tally at the game's main hub. This could earn you improved abilities and upgrades for your vacuum. Not too shabby!
The game looks beautiful on the dual screens of the Nintendo 3DS and it is one of the better-looking experiences on the handheld. All the components of the game look sharp and truly come to life when they are viewed on huge Nintendo 3DS XL screens. The stereoscopic 3D effects are well implemented, and bring a lot of depth to the environments. It’s a worthwhile option to have enabled. The music and sound design also help make journey stand out, with some fantastic tunes and some spooky sounds effects to boot.
Luigi's Mansion 2 is one of my all-time favorite experiences on the Nintendo 3DS and not without good reason. The sequel to the GameCube game bursts with content. Together the expansive single player journey and interesting multiplayer mode make up a beautiful experience. The game is clever, both in the various elements presented to the player as well as the humor that comes with this gang of characters. This is the second marquee title for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013. Who could have imagined it would come so quick after the first?