Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

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Luigi has strangely found his niche in the Mario universe as the ghostbusting, mansion tip-toeing brother. Why Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto decided to make a GameCube tech demo out of a ghostly mansion and then have it star Luigi may be a question for the ages, but 12 years later we are here with its sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS.

It’s been a decade since I played the original Luigi’s Mansion, but I remember it being a charming, if repetitive experience highlighted by Charles Martinet’s incredible voicing of a freaked out Luigi. With the Wii U in seemingly more need of quality software than the 3DS, I’m surprised some tablet-utilizing version of Dark Moon didn’t show up on the console, but the likelihood of me playing the portable version is much higher, so I personally appreciate the 3DS release. Let’s play.

Being a Nintendo game, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon opens with a long cutscene shot of one of the game’s mansions. Also being a Nintendo game, you cannot skip it. Why Nintendo insists over and over to include terribly lame, boring, and unnecessary opening cutscenes in their Mario games I will never understand. Chances are Peach is going to get kidnapped by a cake, you can include a cutscene when you finally have an original story.

This is followed up by a looooong conversation with Professor E. Gadd, who explains that the ghosts are angry again, or something (by this time I was just slamming on the A button to get to the action). You had better get used to talking to the Professor every 15 minutes or so, however, as the game is broken up into short missions that just cover a small part of a mansion.

I’m finally handed a flashlight and told to head towards the haunted mansion where the Poltergust 5000 is stored. Yes, the ghostbusting device is stored at the ghost-infested house, but luckily for Luigi, just inside the first room. After trying out the different suck techniques using the R trigger, I start clearing rooms of debris and money in search of those nasty ghosts.

But you can’t fight ghosts until you have a strobe light used to shock them temporarily, though that is nearby too. The early ghost battles are a welcome bit of action after walking around sucking up carpets and drapes, but are quite easy. It actually feels a bit like a fishing game, get your ghost in your suck radius and pull back, depleting its “hit points”.

As you complete your primary objective, you’re sent back to Professor E. Gadd’s lab for another conversation, then sent back to the exact same location with maybe a few more rooms available. It’s an odd design choice, forcing you through the same rooms over and over again, but I think it might be a good decision in the long run, as long as the chats with the Professor were minimized (which seems unlikely since he also calls you up to talk every five minutes, too). There’s an annoying side effect to this though: Dark Moon won’t checkpoint during a mission, so once you’ve made significant progress you had better complete the primary objective before turning off the system. Not the end of the world with the 3DS’s design, but one that caught me off guard when I took a break for lunch.

The graphics of the new Luigi’s Mansion look very good on the portable screens, there’s some nice lighting techniques with the flashlight, and the physics engine surprised me with its versatility when using the vacuum. The game is pretty dark though, and I spent about 15 minutes at one point trying to figure out what to do next when the solution was a little rope hanging in the corner of the room. Felt a bit like pixel hunting in a point and click adventure.

Minutes to Action: 15

Would I Keep Playing? Yes, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is pretty simple fun, but the possibilities in the game excite me. There are definitely pacing issues with the constant chatter by Professor E. Gadd, but all I can hope is that his screentime is reduced as the game goes on.

Luigis Mansion Dark Moon Poltergust 5000