Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good - Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon - 3DS - www.GameInformer.com
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Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Bustin’ Makes Me Feel Good

The GameCube’s 2001 release didn’t come with an impressive-sounding launch line-up. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader looked good, but a game starring Luigi? Nintendo fans were pleasantly surprised by the younger Mario brother’s starring debut, and over a decade later, they are being treated to another ghost-hunting Luigi adventure that improves on nearly every feature of the original.

The core of the GameCube title’s gameplay remains the same. Players stun ghosts with a flashlight and use the Poltergust 5000 to suck them up. Dark Moon adds a layer of strategy to the flashlight, allowing players to charge up a wide-radius burst. Backing into a corner with a full charge and blasting a group of hidden ghosts is satisfying, and the subsequent vacuum wrangling still requires players to tug against the ghost like a hooked marlin. Luigi’s vacuum builds up a powerful charge as he wrestles ghosts, which can be triggered to knock big chunks off their health. Players aim the vacuum and flashlight up and down using the face buttons, which may sound clunky but works well in practice. These tweaks to the controls make busting ghosts snappy and rewarding.

When you’re not capturing ghosts, you’re solving Dark Moon’s diverse mix of engaging environmental puzzles. Most involve using the flashlight or vacuum, but occasionally call for Luigi to shine his black light to reveal hidden doors or items. Oddities like doormats in front of blank walls offer subtle hints, so perceptive players shouldn’t hit too many progress roadblocks. My favorite puzzles require tactics like using the vacuum to drag spider webs toward a torch to clear a passage. Sometimes battling ghosts becomes a puzzle in itself, like luring a mummy into an open flame to reveal the ghost beneath. Another requires clever use of the vacuum to clear a room of flashlight-diffusing steam. No single puzzle is groundbreaking, but the steady drip of “aha!” moments kept me hooked.

The variety of mansions also keeps things fresh. Unlike the first game’s singular haunted house, players explore exotic estates with snowy mountain ski lifts, Egyptian tombs, and overgrown greenhouses. Backtracking through familiar rooms is frequently required, but themed rooms and the eccentric Professor E. Gadd’s teleporter help prevent environment fatigue. Still, trekking through the same locations across five or so missions in a single mansion gets old.

Revisiting previously explored areas isn’t the only repetition that holds Luigi’s new adventure back. The first time you have to chase down a ghost dog to retrieve a stolen key is endearing, but the mutt’s following appearances become predictable. Did you just get a shiny new quest item? Get ready for that dumb dog to steal it. Did E. Gadd mention a Toad assistant? Prepare for another escort mission. Tracking phantom paw prints or launching Toad across a pit can be enjoyable, but the unabashed objective recycling disrupts the flow.

If you do need to take a break from the campaign, a four-player cooperative mode lets players hunt ghosts together. The game modes, playable locally or online, take place in a multi-level ScareScraper. Combining vacuum power with friends to weaken ghosts is a good time, and opens up a layer of strategy. Two players can synchronize flashlight blasts to stun a huge swath of ghosts, and then jointly suck them up. I chuckled at adorable co-op situations, like pulling a vase off a friend’s head or tugging the corner of a rug to free someone tangled up in it. Co-op isn’t a must-play feature, but it’s an entertaining distraction if you love the combat.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an endearing sequel that refines the original game’s formula in the best ways. Even the occasional déjà vu moments can’t hold the experience back entirely. The rich presentation (especially on the 3DS XL) and contained mission structure make it a perfect addition to the 3DS library. Whether you played the GameCube original or not, this Nintendo game is worth a look.

Watch us play through the entire first Luigi's Mansion on Super Replay.

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User Reviews:

  • 8.75
    If my New Super Luigi U review was any indication, Luigi is my favorite Nintendo character. 'Nuff said. As for my back story: in early 2002, my parents bought me a Gamecube for my birthday in first grade. With it, I got Wave Race , and, oh yes, the original Luigi's Mansion . His scared and nervous...
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  • 8.50
    " 12 years after his first ghost-busting adventure, Luigi finally returns for some more action!" 2013. Year of Luigi. What better game to start off with this year than the long awaited return of Luigi's Mansion; with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, not only are we treated with a sequel...
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  • 8.00
    I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts! Luigi's Mansion was one of the launch titles for the Nintendo GameCube alllll the way back in 2001. Time hasn't done it any favors, but back then it was one of the most unique games ever devised. It featured Luigi in his first starring role in a Nintendo game...
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  • 9.50
    With 2013 being the Year of Luigi, it's only fitting that it all kicks off with the sequel to Luigi's defining role in 2001's Luigi's Mansion for the Gamecube. For the debut of the Gamecube, Luigi was brought to the forefront to lead the way for the budding console and provide a perfect...
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  • 9.00
    So I have not had the pleasure of playing Luigi's Mansion for the Gamecube, but from what I've seen, Dark Moon took a good step forward, making a great identity for itself. Gameplay: So despite it's predecessor, Dark Moon plays itself more as a puzzler than a boss gauntlet kind of game. This...
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  • 7.00
    7/10: A sub-par game that fails to live up to it's predecessor. It's got a great atmosphere and overall art direction, but lacks the solid gameplay mechanics to make it a truly memorable title with lots of replayability. Luigi's Mansion on the Gamecube was the first game I ever played on...
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