Charming, atmospheric and beautifully animated.
When the original Luigi’s Mansion debuted on Nintendo’s brand new Gamecube, it was to a lukewarm reception. While fun and innovative, it’s short length of just six hours meant it had little lasting appeal. Luigi’s Mansion 2 (Dark moon to the American audience) fixes the issues of length, while remaining highly creative and fun to play. This game truly shows that Luigi doesn’t need his older brother around to shine.
Visually Luigi’s Mansion 2 is stunning. Ghosts glow with an eerie luminescence, rooms full of personality are packed with detailed objects and a cheerfully spooky atmosphere pervades throughout each unique mansion. Character models are not extremely detailed, but are animated better than any I’ve seen on the 3DS yet. Luigi in particular is a delight to watch as he bumbles through old dining rooms and abandoned cellars. His facial expressions and little quirks lend him far more personality than a word heavy script would.
The 3D effect is extremely well done in Luigi’s Mansion 2. Rooms pop out like individual stages, the depth lending them a diorama – like effect. Ghosts fluttering around you seem to almost float out of the screen. It’s one of the few games where you’ll slide the 3D effect up to the max and forget it’s there as you’re immersed completely into the game and it’s world. The game also uses lighting to great effect, adding atmosphere and giving gameplay clues. It’s refreshing to see a video game make an effort in an often neglected area.
This game plays fluidly and simply. It’s a mixture of exploration and collection, and frenetic ghost hunts that explode in visuals and colours. Exploring the mansions and interacting with every object you can find in an attempt to discover secret passages and coins reminded me of old school point and click games. While these sections of exploration can be slow, there’s just the right amount of hidden delights and ghost fights to prevent it from becoming tedious. For the collecters out there, there are tons of unique gems to find in every mansion.
Hunting ghosts is a simple affair, but extremely satisfying. As the ghosts circle Luigi, chucking objects such as books and banana peels at him, he must stun them with a blinding flash of light before sucking them up with his new and improved PolterGust 5000. As you progress into the game you’ll meet several varieties of ghosts that will shake these hunts up, wearing trendy shades to prevent being stunned, or types that love to hide in shelves and vases.
After a certain amount of levels in each mansion, Luigi is confronted by a boss fight. This is a typical Nintendo setup – big, unique fights against a creature that requires a specific pattern to be used to take it down. Refreshingly challenging, these fights are fun and memorable, requiring you to think carefully instead of just leapineg into the fray with a gun drawn like in so many games.
Gamers new to the series fear not – Luigi’s Mansion 2 stands alone storywise. It centers once more around the wacky antics of Professor E.Gadd and the reluctant Ghostbuster Luigi. Set in Evershade Valley, the dark moon which renders all ghosts friendly has been shattered by a menacing (in Nintendo terms) Boo. When the ghosts turn hostile, Luigi is beamed in to help gather the six moon shards and restore peace to the haunted valley.
It’s fairly standard stuff for a Nintendo tale, better than a Mario plot but paler than the ghosts it features when placed beside a Zelda or Metroid tale. It serves it job, moving the plot along through it’s varied mansions and has a few pleasant twists, but nothing in here will blow your mind.
However, how many of us buy a Nintendo game for the plot?
The 3DS is fast becoming my favorite handheld ever, with a slew of worthwhile titles. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is another great game that would fit nicely into anyone’s library. Play it on the train, or in bed with headphones, and be delighted by this beautiful and charming game.
GRAPHICS : 9/10
GAME PLAY : 8/10
STORY : 6/10
TOTAL : 23/30 – Very good.