We certainly feel for Luigi; occupying a sibling’s shadow is never an easy situation to live with, especially when that sibling is routinely getting the girl and saving the Mushroom Kingdom. This is a curse Luigi has had to bear since Mario Bros in ‘83, but it was through Nintendo’s Gamecube that Luigi finally got a chance to shine in his own adventure with Luigi’s Mansion. It was a fun, if not flawed, launch title that whisked Luigi into the haunted avenues of Evershade Valley and tasked him with exorcising some demons.
A decade later, then, we are returning to the valley with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, a 3DS exclusive sequel that capitalises on the premise of its predecessor in ways we never expected. The core concept has been meticulously expanded; the ghosts of the Gloomy Manor have gone hostile and only Luigi, armed with the Poltergust 500, can restore a semblance of harmony to the chaos.
Dropping into the haunted hallways of the Gloomy Manor, the Haunted Towers and eventually the Clockwork Court, Luigi is tasked with cautiously exploring every nook and cranny in search of keys and treasure. Keys further expand the game world, opening new doors and revealing new mysteries to be discovered and solved. Thankfully, the mansions have evolved significantly over the decade, and while the intimacy of the original Luigi’s Mansion remains, everything from level variation to the quality of the puzzles has been improved.
The mechanics have evolved as well. Luigi is now able to capture multiple ghosts at once, and with the improved Poltergust 500 at his side ghostbusting has never been more enjoyable. Who’d have thought it would be Next Level Games to perfect the ’busting formula?
While ghosts will appear to deter your search for progression, the Poltergust comes equipped with a powerful strobe light that will stun a ghoul long enough to punch a vacuumised photon-beam in their direction. While repetitive combat can sometimes grate in puzzle-centric games, Luigi’s Mansion gets it right. The combat is in itself a puzzle, with different enemy types and variations appearing to drag Luigi into the underworld.
Utilising the 3DS’ power, Next Level has created not only one of the most wonderful games to grace the system, but also one of the prettiest. The rooms are draped in shadow, the colours invert as ghosts invade your person and whacking the 3DS slider to maximum drapes the world in stunning stereoscopic 3D.
Next Level has found a way to return gamers to the world of Luigi’s Mansion in a way that manages to retain its predecessor’s charm, one that doesn’t take the technical and mechanical aspects for granted. More perfectly than they could have hoped, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon fully executes Nintendo’s original vision.