Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

00000A 3DS package_NOA

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

New Super Luigi U Review

New Super Luigi U

It’s what all of you underdog lovers have been waiting for. Luigi takes the lead in a Mario Bros. style game. Does he live up to his brother’s image, or does he outdo Mario this time?

Presentation

New Super Luigi U Presentation

New Super Mario Bros U and New Super Luigi U have somewhat identical visuals and audio. The map is exactly the same as the original game but each level is dramatically different. The music gives a more urgent tone to the gameplay. At the beginning of each level you’ll hear the tune to warn you you’re running out of time, and it’s followed by more upbeat music than if you weren’t running out of time.

Story and Gameplay

Luigi Alone

Mario is usually the hero, but for some reason he’s not around when Bowser storms the castle. Luigi takes it upon himself to lead yellow and blue Toad to save the Princess. A new character tags along named Nabbit. He played only an enemy role in the original game, but this time someone playing along with you can choose Nabbit. The perks of playing with Nabbit is that he cannot be damaged like the other players can. The downside to choosing him is that he cannot use items like the fire flower. This is a way for Nintendo to provide less experienced players to join in this more chaotic version of the game.

The main difference, which will be noticed immediately, is that every stage only gives you 100 seconds to complete. The benefit is that the game becomes tougher and provides more challenging gameplay. The levels may feel a lot shorter, but more dedicated players will realize that collecting star coins with this amount of time is a lot harder than in the original game. Not only will you sometimes not be able to come up with a plan to collect an out of reach star coin in time, but sometimes you won’t even be able to find all of the star coins. It’s the same case for secret exits which are still present. Smaller stages make secrets easier to find, but the duration of time available balances this out.

In addition to the difference in time, each level is created to be more difficult than before. This compensates for Luigi’s high jump ability. The other characters will also be able to jump high, but all characters will have a harder time changing directions which is also a trait of Luigi.  A way to counteract the difficulty increase is the increased opportunity for 1-ups. Smaller stages provide for less time and space to collect extra lives, but Luigi has a better chance with each flag pole than Mario does. There are also a lot more 1-up blocks throughout the game. They are made difficult to retrieve because of the 100 seconds and because of the harder to reach places they may be found.

Luigi Castle

Castles provide the most challenge. Each castle is reinvented in a way that has increased the difficulty dramatically. The disappointing side is that each boss battle is basically the same. If there is any difference, it’s hardly noticeable. It would have been interesting and more satisfying to see something different from each boss just to change each fight a bit. Nevertheless, getting to the boss fights is where the real challenge is.

Playing with friends has become even more hectic. With only 100 seconds for each level, there’s no time to wait for someone who is holding the group behind. This could provide for even more competition between you and the other players.

Speaking of more hectic, hardcore players can have their cake and eat it too. Not only are the stages recreated entirely for the purpose of creating a more challenging game, but if you want to take on the stages without the advantage of Luigi’s jump, you can do that too. Once you finish the story, you are allowed to play in the new stages with the old physics. This means that Luigi will jump the same height as Mario. This can create even more of a testing but satisfying experience because some levels are designed to make up for Luigi’s ability to jump high.

Other features

Luigi Swimming

There is something included with each stage that Nintendo did just for fun. In each level, you can find a representation of Luigi in a hidden spot. This aspect can create yet another goal for you and your friends to achieve if you decided. It can also be fun just to find each of these Luigi representations. Some examples:

Luigi Totem

Luigi Wall

There is also an addition to the colored rings that provide coins, colored buttons that provide coins and enemies. One that stood out was the ice bro. He has the ability to freeze you the same way you could freeze him with an ice flower. (EDIT) There is also a mushroom box at the beginning of every stage; however, if you’re already big Luigi at this point, only a coin will come out of this box.

 

Pros Cons Could go either way
-More items are available throughout the game -Boss fights are not different enough to make an impact -With tighter time constraints, the levels are noticeably shorter
-Gives a much fresher feeling to the platforming genre that Mario Bros. relies on   -More 1-ups are available throughout the game
-Even after the rise in difficulty you are given the choice to increase it even more by changing back to the physics of the original game   -Smaller levels make it harder to hide secrets, but time constraints give you less time to look for them
-Provides a multiplayer choice for less advanced players    
-Time constraint increases difficulty and makes the game feel more suitable for advanced players    

 

The Acosta Statement

You did it this time Nintendo! Though the boss battles could have been better, this alternate version of the game feels like a completely different type of adventure. Hardcore and advanced players can finally play a platform that will feel challenging and worth their time. As for the readers, if you didn’t think Luigi could live up to Mario’s standards, you couldn’t have been more wrong. You’ll be able to go through even harder stages without Mario taking the lead. New Super Luigi U is definitely worth the price if you’re going to play to get the most out of the experience; that means finishing the story, collecting the star coins and finding the secrets of the game. I would recommend this to any Mario Bros fan, and I would recommend this to anyone who has been looking to be challenged by a platforming or Mario game.

8/10

Luigi Everywhere

New Super Mario Bros U Review

NSMBU cover

Super Luigi U is upon us. Is it worth it to dive into this adventure with Mario before Luigi jumps into the spotlight?

Presentation

NSMBU presentation

Mario is finally saving the day in HD. From the first moment you’ll notice how good the game looks. This mixes with the catchy music and gets you into the moment. When you put attention into the details you’ll be even more impressed; the background of the levels are well designed, and the music is thoroughly thought out.  There’s enough detail to reveal more about both the design and musical choice when looked at and listened to more closely. Occasionally you’ll see or hear something nostalgic, like a tune at the end of the level indicating you’ll receive an item. You may also notice that enemies, Yoshi and other things in the game have reactions to the rhythm of the music. This throws the enemies’ patterns slightly off but not significantly. It’s also quite charming. There is a good balance in design because everything is mostly new while some things will bring you back to the old Mario days.

Story and Gameplay

NSMBU Bowser Jr

There’s nothing new plot-wise. You’ll be doing the usual save the princess adventure that Mario always gets stuck with. The only thing you’ll find different is that your princess is NOT in another castle, just her own. Bowser Jr. takes on a bigger role than Bowser in this game, but of course Mario’s greatest enemy is still present. The story may not be too intriguing, but gameplay is where Mario games have made their mark.

There are some new enemies like the flying squirrel. It’s obvious its purpose in the game is to accompany the new power up. Mario and friends can use this power-up to glide across the stage and propel upwards once for each time you jump. Another new addition is of small Yoshi replicas throughout the game that have special powers depending on the color. For example, the pink Yoshi will turn into a balloon and bring Mario high into the air. It seems as though many more types of items and Yoshi could have been added, but there’s enough added to the game to make for new gameplay. Don’t worry about your green dinosaur friend, the original Yoshi does show up for some levels.

As is typical for Nintendo games, the levels start off rather easy to finish. You can reach 99 lives quite easily if you’re a veteran of platforming with Mario and his brother. This is Nintendo’s style for introducing younger and new consumers to their products, but it would be nice for more of a challenge (at least enough to make 99 lives a difficult accomplishment). Don’t be discouraged yet because the levels get increasingly difficult. If a level is too difficult, a super Luigi guide box will appear to show you a run through the stage. Star coins and secret stages make an appearance for the Mario players who want a satisfying challenge. Some of these coins will have you thinking for a bit before you can get them. Some of them will require you to have a certain item with you. Secret stages will also take some time to find, increasing replay value for those players who want the most of their games.

NSMBU Luigi

Multiplayer is also available for this game. Three other players can choose between the recently popular Luigi, and a blue or yellow toad. This can be a competitive environment, or other players can cooperate to help you collect those hard to reach star coins. A fifth player has the ability to create disappearing platforms around the stage and stun enemies with the touchpad. This is useful for players who may want to be involved but not completely immersed in the gameplay. Playing with multiple players can sometimes make a level easier and sometimes do the opposite, giving a balance to the choice of adding a friend.

Other Modes

NSMBU Mii

There are other modes for competitive play. Challenge and Boost Rush mode allow for you and your friends to compete in clearing stages with the fastest time, staying alive the longest and other objectives. You can even use your Mii for these competitions. The more competitive players will enjoy these game modes while others may not. Another feature of the game is that the posts of other players around the world who have posted in Miiverse about a specific level will show up throughout the game. This makes you feel more connected with other players.

Pros Cons

 

Has a reasonably good balance for nostalgia -Mario platforming formula still fun but makes for a “play it safe” plot
-New stages, items, enemies and characters give enough reason to play Mario once again -Too easy for more advanced players in the beginning of the game
-Visuals and musical choices are well thought out -Doesn’t realize its potential with the amount of items and Yoshi
-Star coins and secret stages give more advanced players a challenge
-Competitive modes can be fun to challenge others with

 

The Acosta Statement

Come on Nintendo! We know you could have done a lot more here. Yes, the game is fun and could keep us busy for a while until new games arrive, but I see holes that could have been filled until they were overflowing with content. Nevertheless, New Super Mario Bros U is a fun game to play. Some of you will find it worth buying no matter what. But for the rest of you; the question is, is it worth buying along with Super Luigi U? We’ll find out soon in my next review!

7/10

Super Mario Bros U meme