Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
A Review by Jose R. Vega
In 2001, Nintendo released Luigi’s Mansion for the Nintendo Gamecube as part of their launch lineup. In this game, you play the role of Mario’s brother Luigi as you trek through a huge mansion collecting money, hunting down ghosts and saving his brother from an evil Boo king. For it’s time, it’s a very unique game and also, for the first time, you get to play as Mario’s cowardly older brother. To be fair, he isn’t cowardly because he can be strong when the situation arises. 12 years have passed and there hasn’t been a new game focusing on the guy in green. That changes with the release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Now we ask, after 12 long years, does this game follow up as the last one or does it sputter out like a dust cloud? Let’s find out.
The game takes place in Evershade Valley, a town that houses ghosts of all kinds. Professor E. Gadd is there to research an artifact called the Dark Moon. The Dark Moon is a mysterious and powerful artifact that causes ghosts in the town to become pacifistic and friendly. Everything is going good until something shatters it into pieces, causing them to start acting violent toward everyone around them, including the professor. Luigi, relaxing in what I can assume is the same mansion he got from the first game gets word from the Professor about it and assists but not after a little persuasion by the professor.
For a story, it’s pretty straightforward. We get a good idea of what’s going on, who’s behind this and what can be done. Some scenes with Luigi can be outright hilarious. Nintendo games have a knack for giving us a chuckle. It’s no exception here and believe me, there were some scenes where you’ll crack up and laugh. Anyway, E. Gadd wants Luigi to find pieces of the Dark Moon so that they can save the valley but at the same time, he has to deal with a threat that returned from the first game. Whatever it is, it’s going to make you go bump in the night.
Dark Moon is packed with a lot of content. The single-player game has you playing as Luigi going through five different mansions in a mission-based format. In each mission, you travel through one part of the mansion capturing ghosts, solving puzzles and collecting money to upgrade your main weapon, the Poltergust 5000, your main weapon. There are more than 30 missions and this game delivers on providing you a great experience. For example, the enemies you encounter are ghosts that not only come in many types but also in various different combinations. Some combinations are simple to evade while others force you to catch them where they least expect it. It gives the game something unique forcing the player to think on their feet. Personally, I like that because in my many days playing this game, I like how a game like this has this opportunity. There are also collectibles in every mansion and they require you to search every nook and cranny for them. Of course you can go back to some missions if you want but this here adds replayability to a game that already has a lot of it. When you complete each level, you’re ranked on a variety of factors such as time completed, enemies defeated, health lost and money collected. Getting three stars on every mission including the boss and infiltration missions require a lot of skill and precision. This I believe is great replayability in this game and I believe it should be implemented in future games.
Early on in the game you find a specialized vacuum that can be used to capture ghosts called the Poltergust 5000 (which I mentioned earlier). However, unlike the previous Poltergust, this one is an upgraded version that has multiple uses. For starters, you can upgrade it to make it stronger. To do so, you need to collect money as you play the game whether single or multi-player. Each time it levels up, it gets an upgrade that can either improve the strength of the Poltergust Vacuum or extend the time you can use a power-up called the Dark-Light Device. As you progress, you can get upgrades to help improve the Poltergust 5000. One upgrade is the Strobulb, which allows the flashlight to charge up and unleash a blast of light that can stun ghosts. In addition, you also find the Dark-Light Device. This item lets you find hidden objects as well as seek out any hidden ghosts and Boos. Like the Poltergust itself, it can be upgraded to extend the duration.
Boos also make a return though you can only capture one per mission. Personally, I find it disappointing because in the first Luigi’s Mansion game, it doesn’t matter what area (portion of the game) you’re in, you can find a total of 50 Boos and sometimes the HP of them can reach up to 300. In this game, they aren’t that hard to capture and are only good for unlocking the Infiltration missions that occur after beating the boss in every mansion. Infiltration missions have you racing against the clock as you go through several rooms capturing ghosts in the fastest time.
There are bosses in the game and some can be very easy if you know what you’re doing. Heck, some bosses you can handle no problem without getting hit once. But although some of the bosses are easy, it’s getting to them that can really be a pain in the butt. Take for example, the boss of Haunted Towers. The boss is pretty easy with the right strategy but it’s getting to him that is the real pain because you need to figure out the correct path in order to reach it. It’s more or less trial and error because if you mess up, you have to deal with a ghost and that can be a real pain in the butt. To make it worse, the pattern changes every time you do the level. That’s my one nitpick with this because this can be a turn-off to people when they reach it. But if they can be able to withstand it, they’ll do fine.
Multiplayer is also in this game as up to 4 players can play locally or online with friends through the Scarescraper, a tower that’s made exclusively for it. Based on my experience with this, I consider this a godsend, adding additional replay value to an already awesome game. You can choose between how many floors it can be as well as the difficulty though the option for endless will have you and your friends trying to go through it for hours. Plus with added difficulty settings help determine how easy or how hard your trek will be. I like this because you and three friends can go in, capture ghosts and collect money. Plus all the money you earn there will help level up your Poltergust 5000 in the main game. That makes it all the more rewarding and enjoyable because with a maxed out Poltergust helps you go through the game easily. At least with the online, it can sometimes lag but during my sessions, it was flawless and I enjoyed it.
From a visual standpoint, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is simply amazing. Each of the five mansions you travel in are unique and they each have a different theme that sets it apart. If you look hard enough, you can notice some interesting details they put in some of the levels. The cut-scenes are enjoyable and help give the sense of atmosphere you’re in when you trek each one. Also, scenes where the bosses show up is a highlight especially one that has my eyes open in shock. I mean that. Music’s really good adding some atmosphere and the sound effects are good too. Luigi’s scares are just hilarious especially when the ghosts give them a spook. Purely priceless and there’s also one scene that makes me say, oh my god. You need to see it from yourself, trust me. Although there’s no voice acting, who needs it? The many sounds that the characters make help provide their expressions nicely. Charles Martinet really delivered in this game. I mean that.
Twelve years was a long wait for a sequel and boy did Nintendo deliver. With amazing visuals, great gameplay and addicting multiplayer, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is one game you shouldn’t pass up. Despite some flaws such as easy bosses and limited exploration, you’ll enjoy a kick out of playing as Luigi and taking down ghosts. Of course with a game you can play on the go, how can you refuse? If you have a 3DS and you want a game that can give you a run for your money, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the game for you. No ifs, ands or buts, this game is one I highly recommend to everyone.
Final Score: 9/10