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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review: Is More Of An Eclipse
In 2001 Luigi’s Mansion was released to showcase the GameCube. In what Satoru Iwata has dubbed the year of Luigi, he makes his way to the 3DS to capture ghosts and goblins while his quivering voice rings down the halls. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon while different from its predecessor does have a some of what made that game special. Hidden items, Boos with names that make you want to hurt someone, and of course Luigi himself. Because as we all know, everyone wants to be Luigi.
First I’m not quite sure why Luigi is back to ghost hunting, since he’s… well a coward. But back at it he is. There’s not that much explanation for it in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, but he’s back by the side of Professor E. Gadd. Once again the Professor is just too old to take care of the horrible ghouls that haunt the region. It’s up to Luigi to help the old timer, because no one else will.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start playing Luigi Mansion: Dark Moon, is that a lot of the focus is on vanquishing the ghosts, unlike its predecessor where you had to figure out how to beat them first. There’s a lot more action in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, but that focus does lend well to the new multiplayer aspect. I do have to admit, while I appreciate the need for change you do lose a little of the charm and gameplay that made the original Luigi’s Mansion so fun.
If you’ve played the original Luigi’s Mansion then Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out gameplay wise. The mechanics haven’t changed that much, but what has changed is actually pretty welcome.
First up is the Poltergust 5000, an upgrade from the original Poltergust 3000. Before you can even think about trying to vacuum up a ghost you’ll have to stun them first with your flashlight’s strobe blub. That’s been changed to, now it can either be fired in quick bursts or you can shine it at a wider angle. Whatever method you choose, once your target is stunned you can then suck them up into the Poltergust 5000. Which led to another change, as you pull a ghost into containment, the Poltergust 5000 will charge up draining a ghost’s stamina. If you’ve ever fished in a recent Zelda game then this mechanic should be pretty easy to understand.
It’s a welcome change since in the original Luigi’s Mansion ghosts would break free from the Poltergust 3000 pretty easily. The new mechanic is more than welcome in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon since the game tosses ghosts at you almost all the time. Smarts are the name of the game here. While ghosts are pretty much yours once you’ve caught them in your stream, you’ll need to trap them first. Using your flashlight, pinning them down, and finally sucking them up is pretty enjoyable but if you don’t get it right then you might be in for a world of hurt.
The Poltergust 5000 has another feature that comes in handy during your play through. Each of the levels in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon contains hidden treasure, bonus levels, collectible gems, and extra Boos that need finding (though these Boos are harder to catch). In order to track down these secrets the Poltergust 5000 comes equipped with a blacklight that exposes hidden objects. Although I do have to add that unless you shine the blacklight in the right place you won’t expose these secrets. So when I did get stuck in a level, it was because I didn’t shine the blacklight in exactly the right location. This can get a bit annoying.
There’s also a lot of interruption in the gameplay since you’ll be making frequent trips to the Professor’s lab. Now, yes you had to visit his lab in the original. But nowhere near the amount of times that you’ll have to do it in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. But that’s not what hurts the game. It’s the repetitiveness. Every mission follows the traditional formula: fetch, escort, and this one timed mission that I was not amused by. The worst part though is what they’ve done to the ghosts.
One of the best parts of the original Luigi’s Mansion were the ghosts. They all had interesting stories, and very interesting personalities. Those have been stripped down in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Yes, you still have some interesting ghosts with their own personalities, but for the most part you’ll get the Boos. Another feature missing are the tailored ghost locations. Locations that told the story of the ghosts residing there, locations that yielded interesting methods to defeating their occupants. But once again, those mostly gone to make room for a more arcade like experience. You can tell that the character driven combat has been exchanged for the action in order to accommodate the multiplayer. I just believe that the trade-off wasn’t necessary.
But the true star of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the multiplayer. The mechanics are smooth and work really well with the new feature. You’ve got Hunter mode, the basic feature, where you’ll put into practice everything you’ve learned in the main campaign. If you’ve played Nintendo Land’s Luigi’s Mansion with friends then you should be able to adapt. Catching ghosts, reviving fallen ghost hunters all of it lends to a pretty fun time.
But there are other multiplayer modes in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. First up there’s Rush, which has you trying to find a floor’s exit in about 30 seconds. You can extend this time limit by catching the ghosts that litter the room. Second there’s Polterpups, which is self-explanatory. You have to catch invisible ghost dogs, going from room to room and using the blacklight. Both are fun, but feel a bit tacked on and not as well developed as Hunter mode or the core multiplayer.
There’s also an online option for four friends or strangers, but there are no persistent lobbies or voice chat in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. The lack of both hurts a game whose main appeal is its multiplayer. First having to exit a game after finishing a match instead of replaying means you’ll spend a lot of time server hunting. And that gets annoying really quickly. But it’s an annoyance that I could learn to live with. However, the lack of voice chat is a startling oversight. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is all about the multiplayer. The cooperation amongst teammates is incredibly important in order to catch a ghost especially the tougher ones. So playing online and not being able to communicate can lead to some disastrous consequences. Yes, you have some pre-programmed chat commands, but those in no way shape or form get across the commands that you need to give your team. It gets in the way a lot. The online feature becomes a waste of time instead of a great option. Instead just stick with local multiplayer (there’s Download Play, so you’ll be able to share a part of the game with others) you’ll be a lot better off.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon does lack a lot of the heart that the original had. The individual personalities and histories of the ghosts is something that I hope they’ll restore in the next game. If there is a next game. However, when you talk about mechanics then a lot of things have improved. In this fashion Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is actually better than the original. Getting your ghost is a lot of fun; I just wish I cared about who they were before they ended up in my vacuum cleaner.
(Note: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was reviewed after 15 hours of gameplay on the Nintendo 3DS. This copy was purchased by the reviewer.)