Published on July 16th, 2013 | by octaneblue2
Review: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Developer: Next Level Games
Release Date: March 24, 2013
When the GameCube launched in 2001, a Mario game was absent. Instead, his younger brother Luigi took the center stage in his very own title, Luigi’s Mansion. The game was very fun, gave Luigi his own unique identity, and established him as a singles star. Fast-forward to over a decade later, when Nintendo and Next Level Games finally brought out a sequel: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS. Is this a worthy sequel to the classic GameCube title? Read on for the full review and find out!
In Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Professor E. Gadd lives in Evershade Valley, studying and living with the friendly ghosts that reside there. One night, the Dark Moon, an object in the sky above Evershade Valley, is shattered by an evil menace, causing the ghosts to go berserk and aggressive. Professor E. Gadd has Luigi teleport over to his lab. Armed with the Poltergust 5000 vacuum, an upgrade to the one seen in the first game, Luigi sets out to catch some troublesome ghosts and restore order to Evershade Valley.
The graphics of Dark Moon are quite good, especially when it comes to the character models and animations. And this game is one that looks very nice in the 3D mode. It’s not a help during gameplay as in, say, Super Mario 3D Land or Pilotwings Resort, but the 3D serves as more of an enhancement to the graphics. The soundtrack is suitably eerie when it needs to be and goofy sounding in the more comedic moments. There are a few voice clips in the game, but most of the talking comes from Luigi, who is hilarious.
Like the first game, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a lot of personality, mainly stemming from the cowardly and comedic reactions from Luigi. He’ll yell and jump up in surprise at some ghosts, he’ll nervously call out “Hello?” in empty rooms, and he’ll hum to the main theme in some quiet moments. The game includes plenty of funny moments. For instance, some rooms feature holes that Luigi can peek through, showing some ghosts in candid moments where they’re goofing off. Certain parts of the environment are interactive too, like a leaky pipe that Luigi can go under. He’ll scrub himself and start whistling! It’s hard not to laugh at moments like these.
Dark Moon has quite a number of differences from its predecessor. The first game took place in one gigantic mansion, split off into a large number of different areas that you slowly gain access to as you progressed through the game. This iteration features five mansions with a mission-based structure. As you go through each mission, more areas in the respective mansion are unlocked, and you’ll encounter some mini-bosses in certain ones. Each mansion ends with a boss fight that, upon completion, gives Luigi a piece of the Dark Moon and unlocks the next mansion.
Like in the first game, the mansions feature a nice mix of action with the ghost catching, puzzle elements, and exploration. Catching ghosts is mostly the same, with the flashlight being shined on ghosts to stun them. But you need to use a burst of the flashlight to stun the ghost and then you can proceed to vacuum them up. In the first game, vacuuming the ghosts consisted of pushing the C-Stick in the opposite direction that the ghost is retreating, until the ghost’s HP is depleted. Because of the lack of a built-in extra Circle Pad, pulling them in now consists of a meter that builds up as you pull on the ghost; when you press the A button when the meter is full, it yanks them hard, depleting their HP by a decent-sized chunk. The simplified method works well on the 3DS, and its easy for beginners to catch on quickly.
Luigi gets some new gadgets in the game too. As previously mentioned, the vacuum from the first game returns with an upgrade, but new to the game is the Dark-Light device. Shining this through parts of the mansions reveals hidden objects, as well as certain enemies invisible to the naked eye and, in some cases, the trails to their hiding spots. E. Gadd hands over the Dual Scream to Luigi around the beginning of the game. This acts like the Game Boy Horror from the first game, providing a map for Luigi. It also displays mission objectives and acts as a communicator between E. Gadd and Luigi. The Dual Scream works really well with the 3DS’s two-screen setup, as you can simply glance at the bottom screen for your info, instead of having to pull it up constantly like with the Game Boy Horror in the first game.
New to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the multiplayer mode known as the ScareScraper (Thrill Tower in PAL versions). You do have to unlock this mode, but at least it’s unlocked fairly early on in the game. In this cooperative mode, up to four Luigis wearing different colored clothes work together in four different gameplay types, featuring randomly generated floors. In Hunter mode, the goal is to capture all of the ghosts before the time runs out. Rush mode has players attempting to find the exit, starting out with a limited amount of time; clocks that add more time are found scattered throughout the area. Polterpup mode involves finding and capturing the ghostly pups by following their trails via the Dark-Light Device. And the fourth, unlockable mode is Surprise, which changes the gameplay type with each floor. Regardless of whichever mode chosen, players will face off against a boss every 5 floors. There are a few boss types, but they vary in appearance, and capturing them adds them to the game’s extensive gallery. On the final floor, players will always face off against The Brain.
The ScareScraper mode features plenty of customization. Host players can choose the number of floors, the difficulty level, and the gameplay type. You can choose to have up to three other Luigis, or you can even play this mode solo, although the higher difficulty levels makes soloing very challenging. When playing with others, cooperativeness is essential in ScareScraper. It’s so important that uncooperative players can result in mission failures. When a player faints, another player can revive them. And there are also traps, that involve having another player assisting the trapped one. The game does not feature voice chat for online play, but Luigi can say one of five phrases to communicate (four on the D-Pad, one on the touch screen) to other players.
And speaking of online, the ScareScraper mode can be played online via the Nintendo Network, and it also has a local multiplayer option. Dark Moon supports Download Play too, so you can share the game with players that don’t own the game for some co-op action. What’s awesome is that when players that don’t own the game download it, they can actually go online with it and play with others. Of course, you don’t unlock anything if you don’t own the game, but a feature like that is a great addition. The main flaw with the otherwise excellent multiplayer mode of Dark Moon is that the wireless connection, whether you’re playing online or locally, can be a bit shaky. Random disconnects can occur in either method, and it gets especially frustrating on ScareScrapers set to higher floors or difficulty levels.
The single-player campaign of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon takes anywhere between 10-15 hours to complete the first time around. If you’re going for full completion of all the collectibles and ghost gallery, then that number jumps up a big amount. The addictive multiplayer mode further extends the replay value of the game.
It has a few notable flaws, but Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is still a highly recommended title on the Nintendo 3DS. It has an entertaining single-player campaign that lasts quite a bit, and the replay value of the game is further extended by its great multiplayer mode.
+ Fun, easy-to-learn gameplay
+ Plenty of humor
+ Great multiplayer mode
– Repetitive mission structure
– Annoying disconnects during multiplayer
Final score: 4.5 out of 5