The lights are on
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 the console upon receiving it for christmas the year it came out. It was not what I expected at all, and not what I would have really enjoyed. A game on the fence between being a survival horror and an adventure game with the only things in common being family friendly by giving out a dark creepy vibe, yet keeping the sound and overall design of the game very quirky and cartoony. In the end, I loved this game more and more with subsequent playthroughs and it quickly became one of my favorite Gamecube games for the life of that console generation. Also worth noting, it is one of the few games where I made it a point to get 100% of the secrets in to achieve the best ending possible.
When Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon was announced, I was estatic to finally relive my nostalgia of gaming long past. I downloaded the game over the e-shop when it came out a couple days early as a downloadable exclusive. And now there is only one thing left to do. Go back and play the original. Don't get me wrong, this is a great title and a welcome addition to the 3DS library. It's truly a joy to see Luigi put on the Poltergust vacuum one more time. But it left me wanting more.
Luigi's mansion Dark Moon leaves you wanting more out of the game. The original was so amazing to me based on the fact that it's a "Mario Game" if you will, but completely cast aside anything have to do with our beloved plumber in red. You got to explore a creepy mansion filled to the brim with tons and tons of cash, ghosts, and the ever mischevious Boos. The boss fights were intriguing and well thought out, while the mansion held it's own puzzles to be solved in order to progress, or to give you a little extra cash. While seemingly linear at times by blocking you from exploring without completing certain portions of the mansion, it still allowed you to derail and search the mansion without making it feel too linear.
The problem with Dark Moon is that you can't explore. It only allows you to access areas that are accessible depending on the mission. By completing more missions, you get more access to the mansion, although, it still feels the need to force you into the right direction. Sometimes plants will grow and block entrances once accessible in previous missions, or Professor E. Gadd will call you on Luigi's DS-Communicator and stop you from going the wrong way, or at the least, to yell at you about going the wrong way and wasting your time.
The missions are all just rehashes of ones you've completed in the past. Get part A, ghost steals Part B, Dog steals Part C, find Toad and do annoying escort mission. Very rarely does it feel as though there is something new thrown into each mission. And just as you feel as though you're really getting to see the entirety of the mansion and get that sense of exploration, E. Gadd pulls you out, or alternatively, you realize you've been everywhere in a few short missions and your back tracking. The boss fights as a whole are mixed. Some are challenging and fun, others are down right lazy and annoying. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't played it though.
Finding all the games hidden gems and Boos are nothing short of a chore. Basically, shine your dark light everywhere in every mission until you uncover boos. Gems might take some time and quick puzzle solving in order to collect them all. A major problem with going through old missions to get anything you might have missed, unfortunately forces you to re-complete the mission in it's entirety. This may not seem so bad if you know how to quickly charge through the mansion and solve the puzzles, but it's quite obnoxious in my opinion when you only needed something from the beginning of the mission.
The puzzles in the game are probably the only aspect I feel I can honestly say has a bit of thought put into them. Sometimes you need to interact with different objects in the environment, or utilize different puzzles or hidden objects from other rooms to complete a different puzzle in a room you need to get through. I like this, and wish more games would do use these mechanics.
The mansions are all very scenic, as is the whole game. Undoubtedly the best part of Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon is the overall design of the game. When ghosts are in the room, the music goes quiet or stops entirely, and the lights go dark with nothing but a few spots of ghostly lighting. The puzzles as stated are well thought out and often fit the theme of each mansion quiet well. Each ghost is very unique, and takes some quick thinking when there are multiple kinds in a room. With that said, some mansions feel very lazy outside of the art direction. For example, 2 mansions aren't even really mansions, a Clockworks Factory and an abandoned mining facility underneath a lodge. The mining facility is probably my favorite (I love Ice levels) but for some reason it's the shortest area in the game with only a few missions.
The sounds of Dark Moon are very appropriate. It's just as quirky and fun as you'd expect if you played the first entry in the series. There are even sections in the game where there is nothing but wind and distant sounds coming from within the depths of the mansions which adds a nice twist of occasional dread of whats to come.
Multiplayer in Dark Moon isn't something I'd equate into the full score as it is extremely barebones. But with the right people, it's fun to play. Like any multiplayer experience, it's all based on who you play with. Regardless, I had fun in it.
The fact that you have to go through entire missions all over again, and probably numerous times is a real turn off to me. If each mansion just had certain bullet points to accomplish and a quick save function, it'd be a lot more enjoyable on subsequent playthroughs. After completing the game, I went back and got a couple more ghosts and gems, but in the end, I just don't have it in me to keep on searching through the same missions over and over and listen to E. Gadd tell me whatever is on his mind or state the obvious for the 900th time. If the game also recognized that you've completed the missions prior and let you speed through them, or just have an exit function so you don't have to play each missions as though you never had several times, I'd still be looking for everything like I did in the first game.
In closing, Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon didn't live up to the original for me. It's a really fun game and I do recommend it, but maybe not at $40. But if you loved the first game, Luigi, or even just want a solid adventure game for the 3DS, it's a definite buy. Also as a side note, the 3D does look very good even though I can't handle it for very long.
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