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