Catching a ghost is a two-step process: flash ‘em with a pulse of light (fired off with a button press, rather than a targeted light beam) to reveal their hit points before whipping out the Poltergust 5000 and getting down to some sucking. With only one analogue stick/slide pad at your disposal, wrangling a ghost into submission falls to either rapid button presses or gyroscope gesticulations. The latter feels particularly intuitive, although it’s easy to get carried away and lose sight of the screen if you’re not careful.
Unfortunately motion controls once again pose a problem when complimented by 3D graphics that only work when viewed from certain angles. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon looks fantastic, especially in 3D, but not if you’re waggling too aggressively. Nevertheless, the game’s visuals are smooth, and the contrast between dark ‘n’ dingy surroundings and bright, shiny collectables works wonderfully. Combine all that with eerie music (including that ever-fantastic theme tune) plus sound effects and you’ve got a game with great atmosphere.
Treasure hunting was a big part of the original Luigi’s Mansion and that’s just as true of its successor. Almost every object in the game can be convinced to spew forth copious amounts of shiny trinkets, notably coins, with the help of the Poltergust 5000. Luigi’s trusty vacuum can be used to suck or blow. Spotted some coins in the rafters? Hold R to look-up and then suck them down. That rug really ties the room together; give it a suck to roll it up! A vase that looks a little precarious? Why not blow it over and see what’s inside? Satisfying!
It’s fair to say that the original Luigi’s Mansion proved to be quite the surprise hit when it launched alongside the GameCube. A sequel is long overdue and there’s a great opportunity for Dark Moon to expand on its enjoyable but brief predecessor. Developer Next Level Games seem to be ticking all the right boxes, and if the final game can serve up enough new ideas to keep things interesting, it should prove to be a worthy sequel indeed.
- Karn Bianco, Special Guest Contributor.
It was quite surprising not to see a sequel to Luigi’s solo ghost busting adventure appear on the Wii, given that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination seemed perfectly suited to the gameplay. But that time has passed now, and Nintendo has seen fit to bring the much sought after sequel to the 3DS -- certainly a good decision that only adds to the wealth of high quality titles gradually making their way over to the handheld.
The Dark Moon has shattered and it’s up to Mario’s younger, taller brother to find the pieces, with the help of the returning Professor E. Gadd and his new teleportation machine. Instead of one huge mansion to explore as in the first game, this sequel lets players traverse multiple mansions with varying themes, where the playable demo featured three to choose from -- a traditional haunted house, a clockworks mansion and a snow-themed manor. It was very apparent from the get-go that this entry requires much more exploring and thinking with puzzle elements aplenty, ranging from backtracking to activate levers and switches that open doors and raise platforms, or searching out keys that those cheeky mice have scurried off with. Even Toad follows behind Luigi at certain times, where the player is made to figure out ways to help the little mushroom man reach specific areas and lend a hand.
Controls were obviously designed slightly differently, too, since the second control stick that let Luigi point the torch freely in the original is non-existent on the 3DS, and there doesn’t look to be support for the Circle Pad Pro attachment, either. Pointing the vacuum up and down is done with button presses, and stunning the ghosts requires a charge of light with the torch, so it will naturally take those very familiar with the GameCube title a little longer to become accustomed to the new set-up, but once everything clicks things run very smoothly considering the second stick setback.
With the 3D switch turned right up, the effects were delicious -- the heavy snowflakes of the snowy mansion looking particularly impressive. Whilst not quite on par with the GameCube game visually, Dark Moon comes very close, and it is the 3D effects that aim to deliver a more involving atmosphere, which come together terrifically on the small screen.
- Aaron Elias, Previews Editor.