Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Developed by Next Level Games
Published by Nintendo
for the Nintendo 3DS
Released March 24, 2013

This Moon Shines Bright

With 2013 being the Year of Luigi, it's only fitting that it all kicks off with the sequel to Luigi's defining role in 2001's Luigi's Mansion for the Gamecube. For the debut of the Gamecube, Luigi was brought to the forefront to lead the way for the budding console and provide a perfect example of how high quality the games Nintendo had planned to bring to its audience for half a decade would be.  Fast forward 12 years later and Nintendo finally decided to give Luigi a second go in the spotlight, this time on the 3DS.

The original Luigi's Mansion was a unique departure from anything that had been presented by Nintendo and the best thing about it was that it was so quirky and weird that it worked.  Dark Moon attempted to rekindle this magic that breathed life into the Gamecube and give fans a well deserve fix of the green-clad hero but ended up not only improving on virtually everything offered in the original game but gave a fitting kick off to Nintendo's proudly promoted "Year of Luigi."

Dark Moon is so cartoony and enamoring in its representation of its characters: Luigi, E.Gadd, and the lovable yet frightful ghosts. With each passing dialogue box containing adorable puns left and right to its quirky and cartoony cutscenes that play out with charm reminiscent of a 1950s Bugs Bunny cartoon, I found my smile harder and harder to suppress. From Luigi's comical reluctancy of the adventure at hand, to E.Gadd's almost sadistic yet delightful take on the matters, to the ghosts' Three Stooges like interactions, the humor stays with entrances the player from start to finish.

While the original game was slow-paced and encouraged exploration, Dark Moon moves at a much hastened rate while regrettably sacrifices an emphasis on exploration.  Dark Moon consists of eradicating ghosts from five separate mansions which are divided up into five or six chapters.  These chapters then can be replayed to earn a better ranking, capture hidden Boos, or just to see how fast it can be beaten.  The game, as a whole offers so much more than in Luigi's first ghost adventure. Not only will Luigi suck up as many ghosts as possible, he can also reveal hidden objects using his Dark Light. The Poltergust will not only be used for ghost hunting but also puzzle solving; Luigi can reveal hidden pathways in the mansions' walls and use the Poltergust's suction to hang on ropes and swing across treacherous gaps. Luigi's Mansion is no longer a spooky game of hide-and-seek but a game of survival that will rely on the player's wits to safely escort Luigi through the mansion intact.

Another addition to the series is a multiplayer mode called Scarescraper which can be played locally, online with friends or online through matchmaking. The mode involves a group of two to four players as they scale the terrifying and seemingly endless Scarescraper, floor by floor, completing a goal at a time through cooperation.  The goals consist of either capturing all the ghosts, finding the exit, finding a certain treasure, or defeating the boss ghost.  Players can interact with each other through four different sayings but it'll quickly overstay its welcome once one of the players spams the HEY! button nonstop until the only means of action is to shut off the 3DS. The online appeared to be very responsive and the mode overall gives the game a lot more replay value than what is already offered through replaying single player chapters.

Dark Moon is everything a sequel should be and does everything one should do. It took everything that made the original game good and improved upon it. Dark Moon combines witty writing, great puzzle-solving, wacky action and hammered on an addicting multiplayer mode for good measure.  Luigi certainly kicked off his year right with a must-have title that certainly will not be forgotten in his older brother's shadow.


Take Luigi's Mansion and multiply the action, puzzles, humor, charm and exploration tenfold.  Dark Moon improves on every mechanic in the first game by incorporating ghost hunting, with puzzle solving, with tech upgrading and improved item usage (the flashlight needs to be super flashed using a button in order to stun a ghost).

A major complaint about the original Luigi's Mansion was the awkward looking movements inputted on the C-stick. Dark Moon simplified this by only allowing Luigi to look up or down using X and B buttons. However this complicates matters a little when trying to input multiple commands simultaneously during heated situations. Also with a lack of a second stick, turning Luigi another direction while already shining the light or vacuuming is impossible and can leave the player in a tough spot. Otherwise the controls feel more polished than ever before.

From comical situations, to ghost capturing, to puzzle-solving, to tech upgrading, to raiding the Scarescraper with friends Ghost Busters style, Dark Moon never leaves room for a dull moment.

While not necessary, the camera can be moved using the gyroscope or the X/B buttons otherwise the camera stays with Luigi appropriately.

Lasting Appeal:
The game is quite lengthy with its five mansions that include around five chapters each and allows for replaying to get better ranks, unlock more items, and capture hidden boos. The multiplayer Scarescraper (local and online) adds a ton more replay value as well.

The graphics are the only thing that the original has over Dark Moon. The graphics are bland and lack detail and textures in both character and environmental models.  It could have really added a lot more spirit to each mansion. Although it is worth noting that in certain sections of the mansion the framerate does increase dramatically giving the game a much crisper feeling.

The game uses its signature Luigi's Mansion theme appropriately but also adds a new score adapted to each mansion.  Luigi's screams and E.Gadd's chuckles are just as memorable 12 years later.

The game starts off easy enough but then the hoards of ghosts start attacking relentlessly while puzzles will begin to require more and more thought.

The game moves at a fast pace and never slows down.


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