Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

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It’s yet another game by the underappreciated brother, but this time it’s a game Luigi made popular all by himself. Does Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon give Luigi the attention he deserves? The short answer is yes. Let’s find out why!

Presentation

Luigi's Mansion Presentation

A lot of games for the 3DS end up making the 3D feature of the system seem useless; however, Dark Moon replenishes that faith some of you may have lost. Similar to how Super Mario 3D Land uses the 3D feature for easier platforming, there are moments in Dark Moon when using the 3D feature actually makes collecting coins or fighting a ghost easier. This is a great addition to the game. Gamers can feel like they are actually getting their money’s worth with the 3D feature.

If you don’t like using the 3D feature, don’t fret. That’s not the only thing about the visual presentation that you can enjoy. Each Mansion has its own theme, and it’s apparent that the developers spent time making each of the mansion’s setting worth exploring. They’re not the type of visuals that will have you astonished by its beauty, but there is a lot of detail put into each mansion. It’s a shame that some mansions have a lot more missions than others. There also isn’t a vast amount of ghost designs. Despite the limited number of them, each of the ghost characters have an obvious personality (which are signified by their appearance) and the simplicity of their design works well.

Something almost not worth mentioning are the occasional visual glitches. The reason it is being mentioned is because it’s an obvious flaw; however, it doesn’t negatively affect your experience because of how occasional and minor they are. When a toad who has been following you gets stuck in the floor, he simply respawns into another space. If you walk through an object, Luigi will still be okay.

A bigger thing that has the potential to be improved upon is the constant use of the same background music. While the Luigi’s Mansion theme song is perfect for setting the mood inside the haunted houses, it is one of the only songs that plays. There are multiple different versions of it, but it seems as though there could be a little more variation. The other things you’ll hear are the voices of the characters and ghosts in the game. It’s a joy to hear when playing. The voices give personality to their respective characters. They may not say much, but it never feels necessary for any of the characters to talk any more than they already do. Just to have Luigi nervously saying hello when he peeps through a door gives enough insight on how he’s feeling. Whenever Luigi hums to the background music, you know he’s a little more comfortable. Professor E. Gadd simply making giddy sounds that are supposed to represent speech shows how excited he is for Luigi to go on an adventure.

Story and Gameplay

Luigi's Mansion E. Gadd

The opening cutscene shows Professor E. Gadd in his lab with some helper ghosts. A few seconds later, King Boo destroys a gem floating in the sky that looks like a purple moon. Immediately after, the friendly ghosts go rampant and start destroying the professor’s lab. The professor decides he needs Luigi. He uses his pixelator in order to transport Luigi into another part of his lab through Luigi’s television. Once Luigi arrives, the professor informs Luigi that the dark moon pieces need to be recollected and put together in order to restore peace in Everglade Valley. Though reluctant, E. Gadd forces Luigi into the adventure anyway.

Although the bigger plot is obvious to the player, a little bit of dramatic irony keeps the professor and Luigi guessing who is behind the destruction of the dark moon. Still, just because the player knows more than the hero doesn’t mean that more story isn’t added on throughout the game. This is what makes the story engaging; just when you thought you know everything that was happening in the story, more elements are added to keep you interested.

The story progresses through episodes. Using the pixelator, E. Gadd transports Luigi into and out of different missions. The first mission is about finding the Poltergeist 5000, the vacuum you will use for the rest of the game to capture ghost and explore the mansions. Progressing through the story and collecting treasures will unlock new items for Luigi to use. You’ll never have to worry about not being able to collect enough treasures. Every room in each mansion has multiple items to interact with. Some rooms will offer more treasure if you fulfill specific goals like blowing out every candle in the room. Ultimately you will have to play a mission more than once if you want to finish with a high ranking time and explore the entire area before finishing. To encourage more exploration, a gold bone is hidden in each stage. These play the role of reviving Luigi if he faints after losing all of his heart points. It’s as if you are rewarded for your time spent exploring. There are also hidden gems and boos (yes, the classic Mario character) throughout each mansion that you may want to find to add even more gameplay. To add even more replay value, each mission gives a grade afterwards based on the amount of treasures found, hearts lost and time taken. Time can be spent getting a better grade in each of the missions or finding all of the treasures.

Luigi's Mansion Gameplay

Though the game mostly relies on the ability to explore each mansion (a positive for the experience), battling and capturing ghost is also a fun mechanic. Admittedly, the beginning of the game is lacking in challenge when it comes to capturing ghosts. As you get further in the game though, ghosts will become smarter and stronger. Capturing each ghost becomes harder as ghosts protect their allies or random animals interfere with your ability to capture them. The mechanic is simple – you flash a ghost with your flashlight, and when they are stunned you vacuum them in by pulling in the opposite direction – but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to do it. As opposed to the hack and slash type games, there is a depth that is added to battling when a lot of the battle is figuring out when and where to attack. The only identifiable flaw about using the vacuum in battle (and also exploring) is the control scheme. While you’ll eventually become used to it and not feel like it’s a problem, it is clunky initially. Having the X button as the “look-up” button makes it uncomfortable and slightly more difficult to use your flashlight in higher areas, whether that means you’re pressing X and A at the same time or pressing X and Y at the same time.

Once passed fighting with the control scheme, the game is tons of fun. One thing that is impressive is that every boss battle is very different. Granted, you will be using the Poltergeist 5000 every time; regardless, the strategy for each of the bosses – whether it’d be solving puzzle or testing your ability to time an enemy’s attack – is always different. While some of the boss battles may be relatively easy or lackluster, some of them will put you to the test. That’s more than can be said about each individual boo that can to be captured in each mission. While the bosses vary in difficulty, every boo is fought the same way. Even though some may take more time to capture, capturing them is a breeze. It’s a bit disappointing. Setting the goal to capture all of them can still be a fun challenge.

Things to Note

This review is from the perspective of a person who never played the original Luigi’s Mansion. I also haven’t gotten to play the multiplayer mode, but I see it as an add-on to an already great game. If you would like to know more about the multiplayer mode, you can check that out at http://luigismansion.nintendo.com/multiplayer/.

Pros: Cons:
An action-adventure that doesn’t rely on flashy battles Control scheme could be better
A lot of content (secrets and items to find) Occasional visual glitch
Ambiance of the haunted areas sets the mood Repetitive music
Humorous Boos are easy to capture
The figuring out how to capture an enemy adds a level of depth to the battling part of the game
Every boss battle is very different
Actual use of 3D

The Acosta Statement

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon is absolutely worth your time. Whether you like original gameplay or seeing Luigi and Toad work together happily, this is a game you’re not going to want to miss if you own a 3DS. Not only does the game make the effort to use the 3D feature of your system, but it still has a story you’ll enjoy, a plethora of puns and sets the right tone for a game that is supposed to be humorous and scary at the same time. Maybe there isn’t enough boss battles, and maybe there isn’t enough challenge in capturing boos, but this game overcomes those flaws.

8/10

Luigi's Mansion Meme

Mutant Mudds Deluxe Review

Mutant Mudds Title

A boy and his grannie fighting mud monsters with a water gun and a jet pack. That’s what you’re going to get when you jump into this adventure. Is that something you want? Continue reading to find out!

Presentation

Mutant Mudds Presentation

In a world where developers are fighting for the most advanced graphics, Mutant Mudds goes for a “12-bit” design. It’s refreshing to see that some developers are more focused on gameplay than amazingly astounding aesthetics. With that said, Renegade still has a fine-looking game here. Originally made for the 3DS, the designs of enemies and stages compliment that system, but it maintains appeal and purpose with its transfer over to the Wii U. Jumping to the background and foreground works the same way. Enemies continue to use their movement through the background and foreground to create hazardous platforming. In the end, you probably won’t be complaining about how the game looks. The music is a different story. While the classic 8-bit and 16-bit sounding tunes and occasionally funky beat are catchy, they are used over and over. At first, it’s enjoyable. The music slowly falls into a frustrating cycle and will most likely have you wishing there was more variety.

Story and Gameplay

Mutant Mudds Story

The game starts with this cutscene; Max and his grandmother are minding their own business at home when the earth is invaded by mud aliens (hence the term “mutant mudds”). In order to rid the planet of these creatures, Max goes on a mission to collect water sprites. These are supposed to be used to clean the land and vanquish the monsters when enough are found.

Controlling Max, you’re given very simple mechanics; you can walk, jump, shoot and duck. With these limited options, you have the abilities to take down all of the mud monsters. There are also monsters you cannot wash away with your water gun. You move, or you lose a precious heart. Precious is the correct word here because you only get three. This may sound like a lot at first, but as the levels become increasingly more difficult, you’re going to wish you had a few more. To start, your water gun will only allow one bullet on the screen at a time. As you collect golden diamonds dispersed throughout each stage, upgrades for your gun and jumping abilities will be unlocked. This will allow you to access secret and more demanding levels scattered around the game. Your goal for every normal stage is to collect 100 golden diamonds, collect the large water sprite and find the secret water sprite. There are also CGA-Land stages which can only be accessed after unlocking the grannie character who can use every power-up together unlike Max. These turn out to be some of the most difficult stages. The new addition to the deluxe version is the ghost stages. Each normal level has a mirrored ghost level. Here you cannot destroy any of the enemies. Even if you use a special ghost-busting gun, they return a few seconds after wasting some of the 10 provided bullets. This forces a different type of strategy upon gamers. All together there are 80 levels, and this doesn’t count how each level can be played differently when you switch between each of the upgrades. For only $10, that’s a win.

Mutant Mudds Gameplay

Despite the number of levels, Mutant Mudds doesn’t rely on quantity; quality matters too. You’ll quickly realize that the limited choices you have for moving and attacking translates to great gameplay. This and the ability for you to switch between 3 different depths creates a fun experience. A challenging game comes from seamlessly combining the mechanics with a variety of enemies, from a small mud monster that’s too short to shoot while standing to a mud pig that releases bombs from the sky. There are many different ways that the game challenges you, and each stage is based on different platforming skills. One level will test your ability to control the height of your jump while another may test how well you can time the need to change directions. Unlike the music, the gameplay won’t feel repetitive for a while. You’re also given a time limit for each level, applying some pressure to play at a faster rate.

While this all sounds great, a problem with the game is that there are no boss battles. To add on to this, there’s no big crowning moment in the game to help you feel satisfied or like you’ve achieved anything. Since you can generally choose which level to finish the game with, you won’t feel like there’s a finale. Instead, you’re likely to feel like the game is in a never-ending loop. In addition to not having a very engaging story, not having an ending that feels like a close to the game makes the story feel less interesting. Platformers may not rely on story, but there’s an empty feeling in this game.

 

Pros: Cons:
-Difficulty varies depending on your dedication to the game -No boss battles or big crowning moment
-Simple mechanics translate to a challenging platformer -The story is not too engaging
-Jumping between background and foreground creates different ways to play -Repetitive music
-Amount of content for the price is very reasonable (80 levels)
-Different items change how you can play each level

The Acosta Statement

$10 for a game with 80 levels? That’s amazing! The platforming is fun and the gameplay feels fresh to the genre. Everything is great, but why couldn’t there be more significant moments in the game like a boss battle or a final stage? This would help players feel like they’re actually achieving something as opposed to just playing a lot of levels. Good job on the game Renegade, but I’m waiting for those boss battles.

7/10

Mutant Mudds Meme

Super Metroid Review

Super Metroid cover

As promised, here’s Super Metroid. It’s time for Take me Back Tuesday! Ready, Go!

Presentation

Super Metroid Presentation

Think back to the Super Nintendo era. Then look at this game. The graphics along with the enemy and boss designs are impressive. Samus and her ship look good and stand out in the environment that is a foreign planet like they should. Some upgrades will even change the color of your suit, giving a real sense of your growing power. The music is worthy of your attention; it sets the mood very well and is memorable. The boss battle music is especially enjoyable. It will create an atmosphere of intensity and urgency, making you feel like you’re going against an extremely powerful opponent (and you are).

Story and Gameplay

Super Metroid Story

The story starts off with Samus explaining the circumstances of the adventure you’re about to go on. Having delivered a Metroid larva who has confused Samus to be her mother to the planet Ceres, the bounty hunter was on her way to find another job when a distress signal turns her around. She finds one of her main nemeses Ridley stealing the larva. Samus has to travel to Planet Zebes to retrieve the Metroid with the Space Pirates in her way.

The first thing that needs to be said is that Super Metroid seems to do everything right. One of the first experiences you’ll go through is the feeling of helplessness. This inspires you to strive to become stronger. The feeling of progression in video games is one of the most aspired feelings to achieve, and Super Metroid does a great job of that.

You’ll be dropped on a mysterious planet with only the end goal in mind, which is to save the larva. This will make the game feel open-world while creating a main structure to follow by putting you in a powerless position whenever you have wandered to an area you’re not yet allowed to explore. The decision of letting you try to explore farther than you can is brilliant. The game teases you with areas that you thought you could roam right before putting an obstacle in your way to stop you. This concept conjures your curiosity. You will wonder about and want to look for that next power-up that will let you overcome an obstacle that you have no chance passing in your current state. An example of this is the introduction of the grapple beam. Regardless of how you go about it, there will be platforms that you’ll deem impossible to get onto; those same areas will come to mind when you finally find the grapple beam. Almost every time you receive a new item, you’ll be forced to use it to leave the area where you found the item. The same idea is used for when you find the grapple beam. When you’re using it to move on to the next area, the memory of not being able to progress on a different part of the planet will be triggered. The feeling of satisfaction follows.

Satisfaction also comes from becoming stronger. Your suit will have multiple color changes to accompany the feeling of being more powerful. The best part is that after your new ability makes you feel unstoppable, the difficulty of enemies you encounter will be much higher. Both the feeling that you can achieve so much more and still have a challenge seeking out the next power-up are great for playing almost any game. A situation that really emphasize the continuity of challenge throughout the game is the anticipation of not being able to get through specific rooms without losing a decent amount of health. One room really stands out. When you enter it, you’ll notice a lot of spikes and Venus fly trap look-alike creatures on the floors and ceilings. Jumping too high or too low becomes a mistake. To complicate this, enemies attack you while you try to jump on to very small platforms.

Even knowing that this room is well designed, it only shows up once. No other room is all that similar to it, and they can still provide a similar struggle to get through. Sometimes just thinking, “I’m going to run through this room and avoid as much damage as possible,” is an acceptable and sometimes difficult thing to accomplish.

The times when it’s not encouraged to think this way is if you haven’t been in a specific area yet. There are so many secrets items all over the planet that you never know if you’re missing one in a room that seems straightforward. Even rooms that exclusively give you an item and seem to only give one thing can have a hidden hallway or item in another area of the room. It seems that every time you find a new ability you have to walk around the entire planet once more because there are places you never thought would have significance until you’ve seen what Samus is capable of. This may sound like a drag, but the prospect of getting an extra boost from new power-ups makes the journey worthwhile and fun.

If there’s one thing that’s important about games that give you new abilities, it’s consistency. Throughout Super Metroid, when you add things to your suit, the planet doesn’t suddenly forget that you have multiple abilities to help you overcome obstacles. After finding items like the morph ball power bomb and the grapple beam, you will use them until the game is completed to find new items and progress through the game. Every item ends up being useful in some way or another throughout the experience. Also, if for some reason you need to remove an ability, you can take off parts of your suit at any time.

Super Metroid Gameplay

The constant use of different abilities is apparent when fighting new and old enemies. When you find a new item, you’ll realize how to destroy enemies you couldn’t before. When you meet new enemies, you’ll flip through a bunch of your abilities before realizing you need to use an older weapon that you may not have used recently. Once you become extremely powerful, enemies will have new patterns that need to be discovered before using any of your items. This is the same concept used for boss fights. The difference is that instead of making the bosses difficult to damage like the smaller enemies, the bigger bosses are harder to avoid and take a lot more damage to defeat. Unless you find a pattern in the bosses’ movements and combine that with your own pattern, you will lose health much faster than they will. Also, Super Metroid punishes you for being damaged a lot more than other games; when hit, Samus will flinch and be moved back considerably, and the cooldown for the next time you can be hurt is a very short duration.

The one thing that I can say that could be frustrating is that new items are not explained; with that said, this is not a negative thing. In fact, if this becomes frustrating to some gamers, it speaks to the change in gaming culture. Video games have become easier over the years, and more gamers expect to be told how to do everything instead of having to figure out how to play like a pro. Another thing that stands out as an “old-school” gaming mechanic is what happens when you have died. When killed, you will have to start at the last save point. No matter how far it is or how many items you collected between the time of your death and the time when you saved the game, you have to start that far back. Newer games become more forgiving as time passes, and gives revival and save points more frequently. Playing Super Metroid on the Wii U can help you avoid this if you don’t want to go through that experience. You can simply create a restore point before a challenging part of the game and restart if you fail.

Things to Note

Super Metroid has become a very competitive game, and gamers have found ways to break sequence and speed run the game in a way that makes the experience very different than explained in this review. Some players find it possible to beat the game in under an hour while a playthrough with 100% completion could take anywhere between 8 and 10 hours. The idea of trying to beat your own completion time along with the sheer fun of playing the game adds to the replay value.

More information on Super Metroid records, hacks, items etc. can be found at http://www.giantbomb.com/super-metroid/3030-8292/.

Pros: Could go either way:
-A challenging game for players of any level -Some power-ups and other features have no explanation
-A lot of items to collect and secret rooms to explore
-Memorable boss battles with patterns that are distinct but still can be a challenge to counter
-Power-ups earned are used throughout the game even if they are earned earlier on
-Classic Metroid music is suited for the tone of the game and catchy
-Abilities and strength increase to satisfying levels while still making enemies a challenge to fight

The Acosta Statement

Did you miss the 30 cents sale for this game? So what?! It may not be the lengthiest game, but it is one of the best gaming experiences any system has to offer. There’s a reason Super Metroid has won awards and is one of the most critically acclaimed games to exist. If you have a Wii U or a Wii, there’s no reason to avoid this game. Buy Super Metroid and enjoy a masterpiece.

10/10

Super Metroid meme

Super Metroid Meme 2