Luigi has a bright career as a door to door Hoover salesman on Halloween night. He can leave the family plumbing business, ditch Mario and go out on his own. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS is an entertaining action and puzzle game even though there are a few interface problems. And for fans of classic haunted house scenarios and paranormal pop culture, the little nuances placed into the level design can be appreciated. Gamers are getting a dose of a Ghostbusters style video game done right, a tour into Disney’s Haunted Mansion with a flashlight and a walkthrough of a Hammer Films retrospective of everything that goes bump in the night.
The game has four estates that Luigi has to deal with. Each of them are further divided into sub-levels (floors) and somewhere in the mansions are pieces of a crystal that he has to recover in order to save EverShade Valley from a Kirby-like evil spirit. Professor E. Gadd recruited Luigi to do the job because that was who he met in the original game. Dark Moon is a continuation from the game released twelve years ago on the Gamecube. And the professor has been spending the intervening years studying the nomenclature of a ghost.
In the real world, not every free floating vapor can be categorized. The ghosts are classified in a style that is not part of Tobin’s Spirit Guide either. They are named according to how how they act, and as for why they have weight, even free floating energy has mass; and if they are visible, they must therefore be visible to the slow spectrum of light that the human eye can perceive! But the weight issue helps explain why some ghosts are harder to capture than others. Like the sport of fishing, there is a tug of war and resistance by the fish to be pulled up to the surface. That’s how this game plays and it’s a welcome departure from all the ghost capture type of games currently available, like Ghostbusters on the PS3, Xbox 360 and iPad.
There is no fun in slamming a ghost when it needs to be ‘reeled’ in as in how the Ghostbusters movie demonstrates it. Interestingly enough, the most common ghost is a Greenie, a creature that bears no semblance to Slimer. In order to capture one, players have to adjust the analog stick in the same direction of the vacuuming force. This technique wears a ghost out faster than letting them get worn out by the counter that displays when it is caught. And some ghosts are tougher to pull in because they are wearing shades or are carrying a item to prevent them from being stunned. A double or triple tap with the flashlight or vacuum is required in order to drag it in.
Because of that, players have to be quick on the D-pad. Since the ghosts have to be ‘blinded’ by the strobe flashlight Luigi is carrying, players have to be on the ball to release the button so he can rotate on his vertical axis. When the button is held down, this character is three dimensionally challenged. Players can see the creatures sneak up on him, but they cannot spin the character around fast enough.
And on the 3DS, the controls feel cramped. Players with big hands may have trouble with the smaller unit. This game feels like it was developed for the 3DS XL in mind than its smaller cousin. Some gamers are not willing to buy a new unit. Nintendo designed the XL to complement 3DS sales instead of offering a trade-up program. They missed the boat there.
And unlike other games, the replay value of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is very high. There are plenty of items to discover or uncover once Luigi gets his item upgrades. They can either help him get into hidden rooms or recover hidden gems from previous levels. When all the crystals are obtained, they reveal trophies for players to look at. This part of the game is mostly eye candy. At least this option gives players a reason to explore every nook and cranny of previous levels.
By carefully looking around like a real paranormal investigator, easter eggs might be found buried in Luigi’s Mansion. If Nintendo was wise, maybe a copy of the original game can be found nestled. That seems unlikely since no reports of this has been mentioned since this game’s release back in March. At least some Mario Brothers enthusiasts can hope. Based on this game’s success, maybe a sequel can be considered.
Score: 4 out of 5