Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Review - I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

Score: 9 / 10
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 24th, 2013

  • Humor and charm of Luigi amplifies the game 
  • Hidden collectibles will have you checking every corner of a room
  • Variety of unique puzzles to solve
  • Multiplayer co-op mode can be a fun break from the main game

  • Boss battles leave a bit to be desired
  • Death will require you to start most missions from scratch.

There is a certain charm to Luigi's Mansion. Luigi is the brother, the backdrop, the more cowardly sibling living in Mario's shadow. Putting him at the helm of a title featuring ghost hunting in a haunted mansion creates a formula that works well. From the moment you capture your first ghost to taking down the mastermind of it all, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is a fun, addictive title that any 3DS owner should jump at the chance of playing.

How does his hair even do that?

Luigi is hired by the Professor E. Gadd once again, as the once friendly ghosts are suddenly driven mad by a mysterious energy. Luigi is tasked with setting out to Evershade Valley to get to the bottom of what is occurring, and ultimately put a stop to the master plan. The overall fun and frivolity of the game is a constant source of reinforcement as ghost encounters are similar to watching slapstick Saturday morning cartoons. The humorous atmosphere provides a fun filled experience all around, and listening to a nervous Luigi hum along to the soundtrack or scream in surprise of a ghost popping out never loses appeal. It is an expected tale from Mario, but much like going into a kid's movie, it is fun despite knowing the outcome.

Fans of the original Luigi's Mansion game will feel right at home, as Dark Moon is an exploration focused game that keeps you checking all corners for everything the game has to offer. The dual screen features a map that makes it easy to navigate to a new objective as you hop from various locations, completing a set of missions in each area. You often return to the same rooms but there is always a variance thrown in or door unlocked that further your exploration of the area. Most of what you encounter is a bounce between puzzles and combat as you check every drawer or pull every curtain to uncover hidden areas or collectibles. You will find yourself pulling up rugs, carrying buckets of water from point to point, and or unveiling hidden levers to complete a machine.

Who ya gonna call?

The combat is similar to Ghostbusters in capturing ghosts to return to main mission area. When a ghost is encountered, you must first stun them with a charged flash of light. Only after stunning them can you reel them in with the Poltergust 5000. Much like fighting a fish on a hook, the ghosts will pull in a direction that you must pull away from until they lose their health and are captured. It starts simple, but soon ghosts become super powered and are tougher to catch, use buckets or suits of armor to block the light and must be opened to attack, and even possess mummies that must be lit ablaze to expose the ghost within. Though the variety tends to kilter off around the third world, the encounters can become a hectic juggling of dodging ghost attacks while reeling in weakened ones until none remain. It is fast, frantic encounter that pairs well with the more laid back exploratory segments.

The collector at heart will find plenty of side content. The end of each match will earn your character a ranking based on performance. Coins collected, damage taken, and ghosts captured all factor into the letter ranking you achieve. You also have a slew of color gems in each world, these are usually tucked away behind lesser seen areas or teased through a window you cannot get to until you return with a later level. Boos are also hidden in each mission that can be revealed and captured. With so many factors and hidden items, you find yourself checking every desk or pulling every painting off the wall to find everything the game has to offer.

We need more vacuums!

The multiplayer portion of the game is known as the Scarescraper. Four players team up in a variety of modes to advance floor by floor in randomly generated rooms to capture ghosts, find hidden ghosts, and team up to reach an exit. Though the modes vary, the objectives are straightforward. It can be played locally or online, but prepare for the guy who has recognizes patterns and tricks to really take over and carry you forward. The small time I spent with the multiplayer was enjoyable, but I felt like there was always someone who was not able to help as much as the rest.

Luigi's Mansion is a game that deserved a solid sequel, and the 3DS was a great platform to carry it forward. Dark Moon is not only a generally fun game, but the personality of the game really keeps it alive. The co-op mode can be a fun experience, the main game contains enjoyable variety, and the minor stuggles with checkpoints or lackluster bosses are easy to overlook with every new puzzle. The most unfortunate part was that it took this long to get a sequel to such an enjoyable game.

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