I’ve always been a huge admirer of Next Level Games and the minds behind their games, particularly from the music point of view. Mario Strikers: Charged hit the scene a few years ago, and its music went by unrecognized. I honestly think it has one of the most underrated soundtracks of all time. Thankfully, I managed to get in contact with the man behind the music of that game and a few other Nintendo flagships, Chad York. I’m thankful that he lent his time for me to interview him through Skype. It was more of a conversation really, an insightful one at that. For my first interview ever, it turned out rather well. Hope you enjoy!
Over the past week or so I’ve been terribly busy, so busy in fact that my review for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has yet to be completed. Steven’s been harassing me for an article on the latest gem to hit the 3DS, and I figured I might as well indulge him. Know that either he or I will be writing a comprehensive review on the game in the coming days.
Say what you will about Nintendo, but no one can deny their games have a certain charm to them. Some of their flagship series are ageless, like Super Mario, others are majestic and wondrous like The Legend of Zelda, but all of these games share one thing in common, they’re a blast to play. It’s true that not everything Nintendo makes will cater to everyone reading this article, but more often than not you’ll walk away feeling like you’ve had a heck of a good time from most of the games Nintendo makes. Case in point, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, or LM2 as I’ll be referring to it from here on out.
Who else would make a sequel to a game that’s over a decade old? OK, maybe Blizzard, but in the console space it’s almost unheard of. The funny thing is, this is the second such franchise Nintendo has done this too recently, with the first being Kid Icarus: Uprising, also released on the 3DS. Back on November 17th, 2001 gamers all across North America were introduced to Luigi’s Mansion, the flagship launch title for the purple GameCube. At the time it featured unparalleled animation, spectral effects and tons of other bells and whistles. It never received the highest praise in the media, but I absolutely adored it. I still remember booting it up for the first time and seeing all the details in the backgrounds and how whenever Luigi got nervous he’d start singing along to the theme. These touches were classic, and made me sad to know that we’d likely never see another installment in the series. While it may have taken almost 12 years to get here, I am so thankful Nintendo allowed Next Level Games to make this awesome game.
So let’s get to the facts. LM2 is a direct sequel to the original, but you don’t have to have played it in order to get the most out of this one. All the little touches are back and better than ever thanks to the inclusion of 3D. Let me say this right now, outside of Super Mario 3D Land, LM2 features the best use of 3D I’ve ever seen in a videogame. Both of these titles are showstoppers for anyone that says the 3D on the 3DS is a gimmick. When used correctly, it not only enhances the visual experience, but also the gameplay. The ghost hunting version of tug-of-war is still at play here, but because there is no second analog stick, you simply rotate the left analog stick in the opposite direction of the ghost to help Luigi suck them into his vacuum. Another modification that I appreciate is the Ghost Hunter, the original was based on the Game Boy Color, whereas the new version is based on the DS. Again, it’s little touches like this that help bring the package together. There’s even a multiplayer mode, although I’ve yet to try it out.
As for some of the big addition or changes, one of the biggest is the game’s structure. Gone are the continuous hallways and backtracking to reach new goals. Now there are a series of mansion players get to play around in. Each mansion acts like a world in a Mario game. These mansions are then broken up into a series of levels, which are rather short. That’s to be expected given the game is on the 3DS, i.e. a portable. While part of me wishes we had the choice to keep exploring instead of being teleported back to the professor, the other half understands why this decision was made. After you complete a certain number of levels you take on some very challenging boss fights. I was shocked that the boss of the first mansion required a lot of thought to defeat. After that, you can then return to previously completed stages to try and locate a Boo, with your newly upgraded Poltergust 5000. There’s just so much to see and do, and good luck getting all the collectables. It’ll take a dog’s age to find them all.
As a whole the game features some excellent puzzles, incredibly well hidden secrets, and all around fantastic action. I didn’t expect to have as much fun as I’m currently having. Then again Next Level Games knows what they’re doing. These are the same boys and girls that made Punch-Out!! on the Wii, and that turned into one of my favorite Wii games. So I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they’ve been able to take another classic Nintendo game and give it fresh new life, this time on the 3DS. Whatever these guys do next I’ll be there day one for sure!
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an excellent game that you should either download from the eShop, or purchase the cart ASAP. You’ll understand all the praise I’m giving the game, and I’m certain you’ll agree it’s one of the very best games out there right now. When you couple this with February’s Fire Emblem: Awakening, it’s hard to argue that the 3DS is on fire right now, and that Nintendo’s magic is still very much alive and well.
I immediately called this as we were live blogging the 3DS presentation yesterday. Go check the live blog out if you don’t believe me! Quite a few fans on YouTube caught this easter egg too, which proves how excellent Next Level Games’ music is. Anyway, notice the elevator music at 1:42 of the Luigi’s Mansion trailer…sounds very familiar, right? Yes, the elevator music is an arrangement of Mario Strikers Charged’s “Pause Menu Music”. Pretty logical as the developer of Luigi’s Mansion is also Next Level Games, but it looks like the same composers will be featured, too.
Anyway, go over on YouTube and catch up on the soundtrack of Mario Strikers Charged. It’s a brilliant rock-oriented soundtrack with plenty of experimentation with techno, country, jazz, and some funk thrown in for good measure. Here’s one of my favorites, The Classroom. If this played in my class, I would’ve never slept in.