The Nintendo Gamecube released around 12 years ago, one chilly November day, and it came with quite a few games that have by now become well known classics; Super Monkey Ball, Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2, and Wave Race: Blue Storm, these are but a few examples of the launch lineup, but there was another game that caught the attention of the media.
It was a rather odd move from Nintendo, releasing a game not starring Mario, but instead starring his lesser known brother Luigi? What madness is this? So focused was this mindset, that the game received average reviews for the most part, something that was strange for a series made by Nintendo, bringing the series to an untimely demise.
But the real question is, why were the responses on this game mixed? Well, the answer is simple; the game was too different, it was something that many gamers and critics could not comprehend at the time, the usual Mario staple was so engraved into everyone’s minds, that the sheer oddity of this game was just… Unprecedented? I think that is the correct word to explain that reaction.
Another such example of oddness would be another tittle from Nintendo: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, which was heavily criticized back then over its graphical style.
But still, many gamers embraced it (Wind Waker received a similar response), and they found something special in this title, and slowly, more were able to see how strangely appealing this game actually is, and so, after 12 years of waiting, we have a sequel at last; Luigi’s Mansion 2, or Dark Moon, the “edgy” and unnecessary subtitle given to the game here in the states, is finally out for the Nintendo 3DS.
The game begins with Professor E. Gadd, the scientist from the previous game that helped by giving Luigi the original Poltergust and the Game Boy Horror, now he occupies himself with studying ghosts, and everything is fine and dandy. That is until the Dark Moon (a mysterious crystal that hangs in the sky) is “mysteriously” shattered, the ghosts lose control, quickly wrecking havoc, and causing the good doctor to hide in a bunker. Unable to find answers, he unceremoniously calls on Luigi once more, who hesitantly agrees to go into not one, not two, but 5 mansions, and perhaps, find some answers.
Unlike the previous game in which you could explore one giant mansion at your own pace, this one uses more of a mission structure, basically treating each mansion as a world of sorts, and each mission as a level. Fans of the original will be turned off by this, but I feel like the straight path approach is more to the game’s strength. In any case, there are many secrets spread in each mission, allowing those who want to put the time to find them do so.
As Luigi, you can do a few different things in order to find secrets, as well as ghosts to capture; you can of course, suck and blow away things with your vacuum, you now also have 2 types of flashlights, the usual that allows you to frighten ghosts by flashing them with it, and the new Dark-Light flashlight, which allows you to reveal hidden objects in the environment. To those unfamiliar with this series, unlike pretty much every game with a Mario character in it, Luigi cannot use his supreme jumping skills, of course, the skill is unnecessary, you’ll be surprised how much you can do with the vacuum alone.
How does the game look? Pretty good, not the best, but it manages to do what it’s supposed to do, still, it looks great with and without the 3D, environments look detailed, and things like lighting effects and slight details like Luigi’s shadow help immerse you more into the mansions, which hold a rather eerie feel that in occasion, can be legitimately unnerving. The game runs smoothly for the most part, but when there is too much on-screen or there is a particularly crowded cut-scene, you notice a slight drop in the frame rate, it’s not game breaking, but it’s something to note. The ghosts themselves are very basic in looks, simply being different colored blobs of goo (minus a few exceptions and the Boos themselves), but each has different patterns and ways to attack, and the game introduces new variations of them, that spices up the gameplay as the difficulty appropriately ramps up.
The sound of this game is nothing to brag about, still, the music fits the style of the game, being more fitting to show the atmosphere than just to sound good, which it still does to some extent. Another thing to note is the sound effects, which sometimes go unnoticed, such as the sound of an object falling, or Luigi’s own footsteps, and maybe even the Toad’s squeaking sound whenever they move, it’s small details like this that do to the game’s favor.
The best thing in this game? I’m going to go with Luigi himself, of course. Luigi’s over the top reactions to everything, the short burst of slapstick humor thrown in (much to our hero’s chagrin) and the way he hums along with the music, I must admit, he oozes personality, something that his brother Mario has never had in any of his games, and something that Luigi proudly triumphs over in this one, it adds to the game’s charm.
But the game is not without its small flaws, as I noted earlier, the frame rate drops when action gets too chaotic on-screen, another thing is using the gyroscope to look around, it’s not quite as intuitive as it was in Ocarina of Time 3D, in which I actually PREFERRED to use it, another problem with it is that it’s also used to cross chasms by using wires, and this honestly, brings the game to a halt, as you have to accommodate yourself properly to do it correctly, or you will fall… A lot. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a fantastic single player, but Next Level Games went the extra mile to give it an extra inclusion; the ScareScraper.
In this multiplayer mode (which you can play local, as well as online) you can play 3 different modes; Hunter in which you catch all of the ghosts on each floor. Rush, a mode where you need to find the exit before time runs out, and Polterpup; in which you need to find the ghosts dogs and catch them before time runs out.
It has some competitive aspects as well, as capturing more ghosts, getting more loot, and not fainting, net you a bonus reward of Gold at the end of the match, which goes into your vault. But as entertaining as this can be, it is nothing more than a small distraction at best, as it becomes repetitive quite quickly, it really depends on the player finding entertainment on the same environments each time, still, I would recommend to play this in small doses.
Overall, this game is excellent, it brings something rather different to the table, it’s entertaining, and like I said, it can be quite spooky at times, no joke. Next Level Games did a fantastic job by developing this one, they put effort, and it shows, as it feels like a game MADE by Nintendo themselves. I highly recommend this one, but not only for you Nintendo fanatics, but also for those who want a different experience.