When writing games reviews the most important guiding principle is that you have to present an unbiased review for your readers to process and then make up their own mind about whether to purchase the subject of the review.
I like to try and stay close to that guideline as much as possible when writing, I try and cover pro’s and con’s with games and make sure that readers go away with the information they need to make a decision, however, with Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon I can’t do that.
I LOVED THIS GAME.
You can keep pretty Bioshock: Infinite with its twists and turns, you can take Lara and her raiding of Tomb’s off for a break, in fact you can take any game that has been released in the past few months and put it into storage; all I need in my life now is an Italian plumber, dressed in green with his Poltergust 5000.
While Dark Moon isn’t a remake of the 2001 GameCube original, the story and gameplay are practically identical, so if you played the original you’ll be able to pick this up pretty quickly. The game takes place in Evershade Valley, the Dark Moon has broken causing the usually docile ghostly residents to switch into mischievous and dangerous foes. Professor E.Gadd calls upon Luigi to venture into Evershade Valley and help retrieve the six pieces of the Dark Moon so the ghosts can go back to their friendly ways.
As Luigi you will head to a number of different haunted mansions. Each Mansion has levels for you to work through to find the Dark Moon piece, and they will end with a boss battle. Pretty standard fare, and as I said, if you’ve played the first game it’ll all be familiar.
While I could wax lyrical about this game, and stare lovingly at the cartridge, there are a couple of things that stand out about Dark Moon. The first is how inventive the game is.
I remember when I was playing through Super Mario Land 3D I was amazed at how each course/level was different, eventually I noticed that some had the same basic premise, but each managed to stand out. That’s the same with Dark Moon, while most of the missions will involve getting X from Y, it’s the journey that matters, and exploring each Mansion and finding different things each time was a joy.
The other inventive side is just how much you can do with a limited arsenal. Luigi essentially has two items with two settings, his flashlight can be used to stun ghosts, or switch to Dark-Light mode and find objects that have been hidden. With his Poltergust 5000, Luigi has a sucking in or blowing out option. Ghosts are stunned using the flashlight and then sucked into the Poltergust, this cues a mini game of holding onto the ghost for as long as possible while ramping up the chance of collecting gold when it finally succumbs and disappears up the pipe.
The Poltergust is also used to aim and fire projectiles, grip onto moving rails, as well as pulling switches and levers; the same with the torch which can be used to open chests, safes, activate bombs and stun hidden enemies. Having played through the game I never felt bored by the actions, I never grew tired of vacuuming up disembodied spirits, or various creatures.
The final thing I really want to draw attention to is the level of detail this game has. Each Mansion is perfectly realised, and contain an abundance of both obvious and hidden collectibles, plus not only are they a joy to explore, but they are a joy to look at. The artwork and design in this game is wonderful. The animation is also top rate and is everything we’ve come to expect from a first party Nintendo title. Each type of ghost behaves in their own impish manner, and watching them through windows is often a highlight of the level you are in.
I couldn’t finish off the review though without mentioning the star. Earlier this year Nintendo announced that 2013 would be the year of Luigi, and if Dark Moon is anything to go by then we are in for a treat.
Luigi is the antithesis to his more famous brother. Cowardly, bumbling and an extremely reluctant hero, his cowering and shrieks will bring a smile to your face within moments and you’ll no doubt fall in love with him. Especially if you leave the 3DS and hear him humming along to the background music while he waits for you.
There are a few minor sticking points, mainly focussed on Professor E.Gadd. The structure of the levels is such that rather than Luigi explore the Mansion at his own leisure, the Professor will pull Luigi back to his bunker for a quick chat before giving him his next objective. This gives each level a chance to refresh, but is often quite jarring. The other issue with the Professor involves his clear abandonment issues, he will call you contstantly throughout the game, these calls can’t be ignored and will likely tell you something you already knew.
Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon is a fantastic game, it’s the perfect antidote to those who may be coming down with a slight case of ‘Mario Fatigue’, and it also reminds us just how good Nintendo are at games. It’s not always a perfect game, but what it is more than anything else is fun, and that is something that is often forgotten about.
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Tim Bowers is the ex-Editor of Zero1Gaming, he also occasionally writes when he's able to string sentences together. He can usually be found waiting for Nintendo to remember about Samus Aran.