I never played the first Luigi’s Mansion, so I didn’t know what to expect beyond the premise of the sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. In this $39.99 (direct) Nintendo 3DS game, you play Mario’s downtrodden brother who must vacuum up ghosts in abandoned haunted houses at the behest of a baby-headed professor. I’m fairly certain that description is accurate and not the result of drinking too much Mountain Dew and staring at a glasses-free 3D screen for hours. Regardless of what I was expecting, Dark Moon is an entertaining, light adventure game that gives Luigi something to do even if that something isn’t anywhere close to crawling out from under his brother’s shadow.
Instead of one mansion, Luigi has to explore several to get rid of the ghosts that have become aggressive because the crystal Dark Moon was mysteriously destroyed. This means playing through several stages that take place in different parts of each mansionn (with generous overlap and some backtracking) solving puzzles, then culminating in a boss fight to get a piece of the Dark Moon and clean out the mansion completely. The regular stages involve exploring increasingly large swaths of the mansion, unlocking new areas by getting new items or solving certain puzzles, like turning on generators.
Luigi doesn’t have the jumping moves of Mario, but thanks to the Poltergust 5000 he has plenty of tools at his disposal. He can use the vacuum to suck in ghosts or pull away obstacles, and attached bulbs can stun ghosts, activate switches, and make invisible things appear. These tools factor more into solving puzzles than fighting ghosts, with each room full of sheets that can be sucked away, invisible objects that can appear, and doors to open.
In one area, I had to start a generator by flashing my light on four switches at the same time, but two would only appear if I was standing on one panel, and another two would only appear if I was standing on another. I used my vacuum to pick up a bucket and fill it with slime, then set it on the panel so I could make all switches appear. In another area, I had to use elastic goop that got stuck in my vacuum to work like a balloon to let me float to the next floor.
Besides solving puzzles, Luigi fights ghosts. The combat isn’t quite as fun as the puzzle-solving, mostly focusing on getting past ghosts’ defenses by waiting for them to strike or sucking away the different objects they use to protect themselves, stunning them, then wrestling them into the vacuum by pulling back and using charged strikes to weaken them enough to finally capture them. This applies to nearly every enemy, and while they look and behave slightly differently (green ghosts use junk to protect themselves from the light, big red ghosts come right at you with fists, blue ghosts hide in objects to avoid you) the actual ghost-hunting all feels very similar.
The exploration is important for finding money as well as advancing in the game. You collect coins, dollars, and gold bars hidden through each mansion, and can use them to get upgrades for the vacuum, which which appear automatically when you collect a certain amount of money. They can make the vacuum more powerful when fighting ghosts or otherwise more helpful without being vital to the game (the actual parts that solve puzzles are unlocked by playing the game itself). Money can be hidden anywhere, and only by interacting with, flashing, and shining the invisibility detector light on everything can you find all of it. Large caches are money are hidden particularly carefully, like behind walls that can only be accessed by sucking away loose wallpaper to expose holes, or by searching for keys to locked areas and taking detours around your main goal.
Dark Moon offers a surprisingly fun multiplayer aspect in the Scarescraper, a randomly generated series of floors one to four Luigis can tackle over local or online multiplayer. Each floor has a series of rooms with different objects to interact with, ghosts to find, and obstacles to get past, and depending on the mode you’re playing you might have to hunt every ghost on the level, run through it as fast as possible, or find invisible ghost puppies. It doesn’t have the big, crafted set piece puzzles like in the main quest, but the random element adds a layer of replayability to the game and makes multiplayer engaging.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an entertaining adventure game and a long-awaited sequel to a game few even thought would see a sequel. It isn’t very deep, but the puzzles, action, and multiplayer modes make it feel like a worthwhile package for any 3DS owner looking for something slightly different.
|ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc