I didn’t play much of the original Luigi’s Mansion, but after trying out the newly-announced 3DS sequel at Nintendo’s E3 booth, I’m very interested in this upcoming Next Level-developed game.

Professor E. Gadd returns to give Luigi marching orders once more. This time, he’ll be sending Mario’s fearless(?) brother to multiple mansions. I only had time to check out the first of these, which was a fairly traditional-looking haunted house.

The main gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion 2 takes place on the top screen in full 3D. On the bottom is a map as well as some other HUD information. Pressing the right shoulder button starts up Luigi’s vacuum in its traditional suck mode while pressing the left shoulder button makes the vacuum blow items away from it. Tapping ‘A’ causes Luigi's flashlight to emit a strobe flash that stuns enemies.

The vacuum is Luigi’s only weapon in this terrifying world, so he’ll be using it for everything from sucking up dollar bills, coins, and gold bars to pulling down sheets that are covering up other treasures. Beginning outside the haunted mansion in question, I sucked a sheet down off of the window and peeked in to the garage. Looking through windows takes the game into first-person mode, which is controlled using the 3DS’ gyroscope.

Entering the house, I cleaned up a few cobwebs, dodged some spiders, and then walked into the garage. Behind an old-looking car I discovered a treasure chest that contained a key. After grabbing it, I headed for the door only for a ghostly gate to slam up from the ground. The earliest enemy, a green ghost, appeared.

Fighting this foe requires a simple strategy of dodging its attacks, hitting it with a strobe flash, and then sucking him in with the vacuum. Once the ghost starts getting pulled into the vacuum, Luigi gets dragged around the room after him. Every once in a while a button prompt appears above Luigi. Each successful hit lowers the ghost's health from a meager 10 until it he hit 0 and was sucked into the paranormal vacuum pack entirely.

Running down the next hallway, I had to time my sprint to dodge blows from supposedly empty suits of armor that lined the wall. In the next area, the dining room, I discovered an even more terrifying foe: the red ghost. This more powerful spook has 30 health instead of 10 and moves faster. He was able to knock me around a bit, with each blow dropping Luigi’s pool of 100 health points. Luckily, once the room was cleared of the undead, his health regenerated automatically.

While I wish I could have had time to check out more of Luigi’s Mansion 2, I definitely enjoyed the short time I had with it. The way the mansions are structured reminds me a lot of a Zelda game: moving from room to room, finding keys to open the way to the next area, and taking on increasingly difficult enemies. If Next Level can keep that feel running through the whole multi-mansion experience, this will be one 3DS title that’s completely worth playing when it releases in 2012.