Luigi’s Mansion was a bit of a cult hit on the GameCube, and fans of Mario’s scaredy-cat brother have been anticipating his return to ghost-busting for years.
Luigi is back with his paranormal vacuum-cleaner, but this time he’s on the 3DS. How does his newest adventure fare?
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is structured a bit differently than the original game: Luigi now has to clear several mansions instead of just one, and each mansion has its own different theme. While the first haunted house bears a lot of resemblance to the mansion from last time around, Luigi travels to a jungle-themed one, a clock-themed one, and a few other ones besides.
The change of locale helps keep things fresh because Dark Moon suffers from a lot of repeated missions. You’re usually trying to find some sort of elaborate key that the ghosts have stolen, only to have the ghost dog take it from you. You’ll also have to rescue trapped Toads on a couple of occasions and while the mansions do have one unique mission apiece, the game does start to drag a bit once you reach the second-to-last area.
There are various gems and hidden bobbles and dodads around the level and Luigi can upgrade his ghost-busting vacuum by accumulating cash. That can be found either by performing a well-timed capture on a ghost or by searching the level for hidden caches of loot.
While the game gets a bit stale by the end, Luigi himself is quite charming in the lead role, bumbling around and humming the theme music to himself. Luigi injects a lot of personality into Dark Moon, and he has some comedic pratfall that belie his skills as a ghost hunter. Dark Moon’s missions are also perfectly structured for a portable title: as long as you don’t get stuck, each level will take around 15 to 20 minutes to beat.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a surprisingly competent and fleshed-out multiplayer component. Taking on the role of one of four differently colored Luigis, you and your dopplegangers can tackle one of three different game types: Hunter, Rush or Polterpup.
Of the three Hunter is the most satisfying. You have to clear each floor of a Scarecraper (from five up to unlimited) and while you are on a team, you still compete to see who can capture the most ghosts and get the most loot. Rush involves you attempting to clear floors before the timer runs out and Polterpup has you chasing the ghost dog that makes an appearance in the campaign.
While the communication between players is limited (four specific call-outs mapped to the D-pad) a solid team of Luigis can make your Scarescraper experience really stand out, especially considering that you get a bonus to your single-player cash vault for completing rounds in multiplayer. The only downside to Scarescraper is that you have to make a somewhat significant amount of progression in the single-player campaign before it will unlock.
While Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moons suffers from repeated mission design that wears on to the point of tedium in the later levels, it still delivers a great portable experience with a fun multiplayer mode to back it up. If you 3DS is hankering for another game, or you loved the original Luigi’s Mansion on the GameCube, pick this one up.
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