Back in 2002 Luigi was given a second chance to star in his own adventure called Luigi’s Mansion, and although it was a short journey it won the hearts of critics and fans. Now ten years later Luigi is summoned once again by the intelligent Professor E. Gadd to once again dawn his trusty flashlight and the new Poltergust 5000 to star in his newest adventure, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. With a lengthy adventure, that easily surpasses the predecessor, combined with some humorous comedic situations and an elegantly crafted world timing with intricate puzzles Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an excellent reason to purchase a Nintendo 3DS.
Professor E. Gadd has spent his life researching paranormal activity, but when a mystical dark moon disappears from the sky of Evershade Valley, his ghostly allies turn hostile. In order to restore order Elvin Gadd contacts his friend Luigi, who is comfortably sleeping in his chair, to collect the shattered pieces of the artifact. Although the Professor can spark a few laughs the true humor of the game comes from the wacky animations: Luigi getting thrown into the wall by traps that open hidden areas; peering through crack in the wall and seeing ghosts gleefully performing misdeeds. These concepts are complemented by the superb sound design and soundtrack, adding more favor to the silly events as Luigi hums with the spooky music.
The atmosphere of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is its greatest accomplishment. The perfect combination of spookiness and child-like wonders adds charm to each of the well-designed capacious area. Suits of armor line the hallways waiting for unexpected trespassers and flashes of light cast shadows when shined in front of an object. Turning on 3D the effect allows for excellent depth-of-field in certain parts of the game, especially when the camera zooms out. Each mansion is saturated with large rooms littered with secrets that include traps, treasure, and hidden ghosts. The various safes, vents, plants, and other strange contraptions release bundles of coins, notes, and gold blocks that make interacting with every piece of the environment time well-spent.
However, exploring the mansions can be difficult since the mission structure follows a specific path and encourages you to follow it. The helpful map on the bottom screen ensures you don’t get lost, but it would be nice if you were given more freedom. Each mission is divided into levels and Luigi is transported between them using a transporter called the Pixelshifter, which warps Luigi from one location after being converted in tiny blocks and then put back together. Although Professor Gadd constantly calls Luigi on his Dual Scream (a clever take on the original Nintendo DS) to inform him of his current progress and give him instructions for the set objective, it seems unnecessary to inform the player of everything they do. It becomes a vexing inconvenience after the first level.
Luigi has access to two tools to take the supernatural: his flashlight, which contains a dark-light attachment that reveals illusions, ghosts, and hidden objects, as well as his Poltergust 5000 vacuum. These are the only tools required to solve the many puzzles within each mansion and are properly equipped to handle any combat situation. By exposing the hearts of the ghost using his flashlight Luigi initiates a tug-of-war between the creatures and then suck them into his vacuum after draining all the health of his target, a power meter also appears that if charged can do a massive amount of damage for quicker battles. Missions all require a combination of catching ghosts and solving puzzles, ending with a boss fight that requires a combination of both. Anything in the environment can be important to your task, requiring careful observation and use of your dark-light. The puzzles are varied and rarely repeat the same pattern, offering new challenges as you progress through the game. Although Professor Gadd points you in the right direction, finding the solution to each problems is tricky but rewarding once you do.
Multiplayer is the most shocking addition to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon called ScareScraper. Up to 4 players are sent into a random mansion and take control of different color variations of Luigi to clear each floor all the ghostly inhabitants, locating invisible ghost-dogs or racing to find a hidden hatch to the next area. Whether playing online, local or download play, teamwork is essential to pass through each level and defeat the bosses, but it’s clear that these modes were made to accompany 4-player cooperative play and taking on the multiplayer mode with less players can lead to frustration.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a wonderful sequel. It allows Luigi a chance at the spotlight once again and show gamers that he can be just as entertaining as Mario. A fickle difficulty curve and a poor checkpoint system can lead to annoying situations but these are mostly minor concerns. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon maintains the same charming formula that made the first game a success and returning to Luigi’s newest ghost catching adventure is definitely worth taking.