Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Developer: Next Level Games
Release Date: March 24th, 2013
Download Size: 6,745 Blocks
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon E for players of all ages. The disclaimer says the game features crude humor and mild cartoon violence. This game is in no way, shape, or form damaging to players of any age. It’s as if Disney came out with a cartoon about Haunted Mansion.
Plays Like: Luigi goes around a series of mansion solving puzzles and catching ghosts. Conceptually it’s identical to the original Luigi’s Mansion on the GameCube, although this one takes things much further and is a better game as a result.
Review Basis: Completed the single player game and convinced a friend to play through a few short multiplayer games.
After all these years Luigi’s back! One of the most underrated GameCube launch titles has gone down in history as a modern-day classic, and now the makers of Super Mario Strikers and Punch-Out!! bring the world an entirely new entry in the series. Does Dark Moon have what it takes to re-introduce the gaming populace to the wonderful world of ghosts, or is this one a dud? Do you really need to ask that question? Of course it’s a winner! Next Level Games doesn’t disappoint.
Atmosphere and 3D effects are simply superb. Ever been to Disneyland and walked through the Haunted Mansion attraction? If so you know that Disney perfectly blends mild creepiness and charm into this sort of harmonious experience that children and adult alike feel all the braver for overcoming. Luigi’s Mansion feels like the essential videogame representation of that feeling. You’re never going to be petrified, but at the same time younger players will feel a true sense of accomplishment when they begin to make progress. It’s just incredible how well everything came together.
The other major success comes from the brilliant use of 3D. Hands down this is the single best 3DS game released since Super Mario 3D Land when it comes to highlighting the system’s spotlight feature, it’s ability to display 3D without the need of special glasses. Ghosts, Luigi, and objects all share a unique field of vision and depth. It’s so easy to differentiate between different layers with the 3D slider set to max. Bottom line, the atmosphere and 3D visuals are incredible.
+ The same wonderful ghost-sucking vacuum gameplay from the GameCube original returns. You solve extremely well-thought out puzzles, spook ghosts and then enter into a little mini-game while trying to suck them up. Great fun.
+ Ghost-busting never gets old because of the constantly evolving gameplay mechanics involving the ghosts themselves. At first players simply blind ghosts with their light, and suck them up. Later on the ghosts will learn and they’ll cover their eyes, so players have to figure out a way of disarming them.
+ No hand-holding. One of the biggest surprises is that players are mostly left to their own devices in order to solve some of the game’s more challenging puzzles. The difficulty is also something unexpected from a modern Nintendo release. Make no mistake about it, you’re going to die, and you’re going to get lost.
+ Awesome boss battles. Not only do they feel epic, but they’re also thought provoking. You really have to give them your all just to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to do. The feeling you get when you do realize the proper strategy is one of delight and pride.
+ Level break-down works perfectly for a portable offering. After each chapter players are whisked back to the Professor’s hideout, which acts like a save feature. It works great as it allows players the freedom to come and go as they please.
+ Tremendous amount of replay value. Each of the game’s many levels can be revisited for a better overall ranking, plus a hidden Big Boo needs to be vanquished, and tons of hidden gems need finding.
+ Lots, and lots of secrets to discover. From using the vacuum’s new black-light to discover invisible objects in the environments, to simply not seeing something that was clearly hidden in plain sight, players will spend an incredible amount of time in each of these levels simply looking for the next secret they may have missed.
+ ScareScraper local or online multilayer mode allows up to four players to play through three different modes, whereby players either hunt ghosts, race towards the exit, or try to catch polterpups. In short bursts these are all fun.
+ Sense of humor is classic Nintendo. When Luigi gets nervous he sings along to the theme music, Professor E. Gadd makes lots of tongue-in-cheek jokes about the improved Ghost Hunter, which he calls a Dual Scream (the device is based on the original DS), and more.
+ Animation is spectacular. From the way Luigi moves to the interactions with the environments, this is one of the nicest looking 3DS games released to date. Next Level Games should be commended on this triumphant success.
+ Sound design is equally impressive. Playing with headphones only highlights the wonderful soundtrack, plus the sensational sound effects. From creeks in the floor to the whirl of the Poltergust, everything sounds great.
– The only negative thing I can say about Dark Moon is that towards the end of the game the missions become increasingly difficult and time consuming, and there’s no mid-level checkpoints in sight. Some players may find that highly frustrating if they die after playing through a level for 30+ minutes. Remember, this is a portable game after all.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a phenomenal game, a true treat for 3DS players. Next Level Games has taken a modern classic and transformed it into something a whole new generation can enjoy. I only hope we don’t have to wait another decade to see Luigi’s triumphant return. Whether you download the game via the eShop, or head to your local retailer, do yourself a favor and pick this bad boy up as soon as possible.
Final Score: 9.5/10