PN Review: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the first in a series of games featuring our favorite green plumber in what’s been deemed the ‘Year of Luigi’. Fans of the first Luigi’s Mansion, myself included, finally have the follow-up they’ve been wanting for the past 12 years. Mario receives a new game almost every year so it’s nice to see Luigi getting the spotlight and don his Poltergust once again.
The story in Dark Moon begins with Professor E. Gadd researching friendly ghosts in Evershade Valley. The valley is very unique with its ghosts because of the Dark Moon that hangs over the valley. The peaceful ghosts all change; however, when the Dark Moon is shattered into pieces and fall in various mansions around the valley. With the ghosts becoming more hostile, Professor E. Gadd retreats to his bunker and calls on Luigi to help him restore the Dark Moon. Luigi’s reluctance is, of course, no match for Professor E. Gadd’s Pixelator–and so begins Luigi’s next adventure.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has several things in common with the first game but there are several new additions as well. The most obvious difference is that there are multiple mansions in Dark Moon. While the original had players searching through one mansion for clues on the whereabouts of Mario, Dark Moon features a number of unique mansions to explore. Each mansion has a unique theme and design to it. Even each room that you explore throughout the game has a unique feel. Every time I went into a new room it was one discovery after another. There is such detail built into every room that it can be overwhelming at times. The progression in Dark Moon is split into various missions. Each mission has a specific goal such as finding the Poltergust 5000, looking for a key, or defeating a boss. After each mission it presents a summary screen of the time the mission took, how much gold was found, and the player’s overall rank. My first mission took over forty minutes! If you’ve played the first mission then you know that it’s not particularly long. In every room I felt compelled to look in every drawer and uncover every secret that was hidden. It didn’t seem like I spent that long because it was simply fun to explore and discover everything I could interact with in the game. The ghost catching has also been drastically improved even from the first demos of Dark Moon. Each time I captured a ghost it was after a very satisfying skirmish.
The presentation in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is representative of what a ‘second generation’ game should look like on the 3DS. Like any console or handheld, it takes time for developers to fully take advantage of a system’s capabilities. With Dark Moon, the level of detail and visual fidelity is top notch. Both Luigi and the ghosts exhibit a number of different emotions complete with detailed animations. The designers did a great job making the player feel what Luigi feels. Each room in the game has a tremendous amount of depth–this is especially apparent with the 3D slider all the way up. Most games have very slight variations when the 3D is low versus high. However in Dark Moon there is a lot to gain with the 3D on. I found that the first boss fight was almost essential to play in 3D. There were several enemies at various depths and the 3D helped know which ones were behind Luigi or in front of him. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is one of the best showcases of 3D on the system, hands-down.
The developers at Next Level Games went a step further with Dark Moon by creating a multiplayer mode that can be played with up to 3 friends both locally or online. Players need to finish the first mansion to unlock the ‘ScareScraper’, but once they do, they’re in for more ghost catching fun. There are several modes in multiplayer but I particularly enjoyed the Polterpup mode. In this mode, players use their dark light device to reveal footprints of Polterpups. Players must then explore the clues that lead them through several rooms before finding a Polterpup. Once all five are captured, the players move up to the next floor of the ScareScraper. Multiplayer makes for a nice cherry on the top for an already fun and engaging game.
Sitting down and playing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is simply a joy. From the moment I walked up to the Gloomy Manor I knew I was in for a purely fun game. The number of hidden items to discover in the game is staggering. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the ultimate showcase of the 3DS and one of my favorite games of 2013.