Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Bump in the night.
Detail is what makes Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon charming. It's in the way the plumber's Poltergust 5000 vacuum cleaner inhales tablecloths and billowing drapery, the character's comical footsteps, his humming along to the catchy soundtrack, ability to blow out candles that relight just a few moments later and the fact that he communicates to Professor E. Gadd, not with the Game Boy Horror from the 2001 GameCube predecessor, but a Nintendo DS, and the original "fat" one at that. We'd also like to think fans will smile, perhaps even chuckle, at the dialogue. Gadd says, "Our quest is taking us to a new location, Luigi! Aren't you excited?" To which Mario's green-clad bro replies with a disappointed headshake. No. No he's not.
Consumers, however, should be, for Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon shines with its visual quality, gameplay and storytelling. The rather large Resident Evil style haunted house from the original has given way to five distinct homes, each one providing a wealth of tricky puzzles to solve and collectibles to Hoover up with the character's equipment. And of course, plenty of ghosts, ones that swing swords, throw punches and don shades to avoid the bright flash from Luigi's weapon of choice. There's a clear lack of personality among this ghastly group, but make no mistake, busting makes you feel good.
With that in mind, and perhaps to fit this massive title onto a 3DS cart, the developers broke the game into missions instead of creating an open world. At first, this seemed disappointing, as we dreamed of getting stuck within some oversized creature-infested palace, but the end result works simply because said missions were designed with multiple plays as Luigi gathers new pieces of equipment, particularly a Dark-Light device that reveals hidden doors and other objects.
Something else that works well: pressing either the left or right shoulder button and then tilting the 3DS to manipulate the camera. This is clearly Nintendo's way of getting around the second analog stick (lack thereof) issue with the system, and while the gyroscope doesn't make for an equal substitute, we'll take the alternative.
The same goes for the glasses free 3D, as the publisher proves yet again why it's the best at harnessing the portable's signature feature. Adjusting the slider creates an impressive effect where objects within this colorful world pull away from each other, adding a welcome sense of depth that proves useful in picking up all those dollar bills, gold coins and bricks that often explode from safes, dresser drawers and vases; amass enough virtual currency to unlock upgrades.
Taking all of this into account, the single player campaign justifies the price of admission on its own, so the inclusion of multiplayer is a welcome surprise. ScareScraper, as Nintendo calls it, comes with modes designed for up to four players through local and online play; you can even go it solo. Hunter, for instance, challenges the team to capture all of the ghosts occupying the tower, and is more of a seek and destroy game type. Rush, meanwhile, ups the proverbial ante by adding a time limit, forcing you to beat ghosts to add precious seconds to the clock. Polterpup, as you'll soon learn, asks you to chase after and capture adorable ghost dogs, as the title suggests.
At the same time, you really don't have many options when it comes to communication. Pressing directions on the d-pad produce canned reactions like "good job" and "help", but without voice chat, you'll probably struggle corralling teammates to complete objectives. Though in one instance, an online player flicked his or her flashlight in the air while we both watched a health-replenishing heart bounce around the room, signaling we could have it. Cool moment.
For the most part, however, multiplayer supplements the single-player quest that is extremely fulfilling. Regardless of whether you played Luigi's Mansion, this sequel stands on its own merits, and in the process, became another fine entry in the growing 3DS library of quality titles in need of enthusiastic owners. Relish the experience.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot:Humorous story, catchy music, five detailed mansions to explore, local and online multiplayer modes, visually satisfying 3D, wealth of puzzles and collectible items.
What's Not:Tough to communicate online, game moves a bit slower online as well, many ghosts lack personality.