Published on April 15th, 2013 | by Michael Rose0
Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon Review
Developer(s): Next Level Games
Release Date: March 24th , 2013
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Rating: E for Everything
It’s been 12 years since our tall green plumber took the dive into ghostbusting. In that time we’ve seen a console generation and a half pass, a total shift in what gamers seem to be looking for, and a recent history of hit and miss Mario games. Yet, the year looks to be bright for the 3DS with proven hits like Fire Emblem and big names on the horizon like Pokemon X and Y, Monster Hunter 4 and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. But, is Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon another positive first step toward the future of the handheld? Read on fellow nerds!
The story is pretty simple. The Dark Moon has been shattered and scattered by King Boo and all the ghosts are going crazy. It’s up to Professor E. Gadd and Luigi to use their 4th wall breaking and ghost sucking powers to find all the pieces and restore the ghosts to their friendly selves. Although the story slowly builds up to a climax, it shouldn’t be the reason anyone should be coming into this game. The characters are compelling (Luigi especially who made me crack up laughing multiple times) and you will want to play until the end to see what happens, but where this game really shines is in its gameplay, graphics and structure.
Unlike the original, Dark Moon goes beyond taking place in a single mansion and gives the player 5 different buildings to explore, although in smaller mission segments. To some this might be a negative, after all the sense of exploring a full castle in Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube was one of the biggest lures (along with being one of the few launch titles.) But, if Nintendo knows one thing, it’s how to craft good pocket gaming. Each building you explore is split into multiple semi-linear paths that have you complete a task in order to move onto the next. After each one is completed, you receive a rating showing how well you completed the course based on time, damage taken, and amount of money/collectables collected. This structure of gaming works seamlessly with an on the go lifestyle, making picking up a 3DS and completing a level of Dark Moon on the bus one of the most satisfying experiences in recent memory.
The visuals created for Dark Moon are beautiful to say the least. Although the characters become slightly pixilated when seen up-close, you will spend most of your time at a fixed length from Luigi roaming a mansion (or other building) that is built from the ground up to keep the player visually interested. Whether you’re exploring a bathroom or a laboratory, there is always something new to gaze upon. The visuals are created to make the 3D features of the 3DS work perfectly. A mixture of the camera’s angle and the use of objects in Luigi’s environment bring something that most 3DS games can’t hope to be, a 3D experience that actually adds to the game as a whole rather then feeling like a gimmick.
Like every gamer knows, gameplay is of the utmost priority, and Dark Moon does everything in its power to make sure the player is having fun. The combat while simple is always engaging. Luigi charges up a flashlight to stun ghosts using the A button and then sucks them up with his Poltergust 5000, holding down R and pulling away from the direction of the ghost. This is the go-to way to defeat enemies, but the fun comes from finding out how to defeat the enemies with a limited tool set. A lot like in The Legend of Zelda series, every enemy has a special way of being defeated. These combat puzzles always keep the simple act of sucking up ghosts fun and brain teasing. Some of the battles, especially boss battles, can get a little annoying. But, once you realize the key to defeating them, it comes with a great sense of accomplishment
The largest relief in Dark Moon is that it knows what its audience wants, exploration. Every room you enter feels like you’re a child walking into a candy shop, you know there will be treasures to find, and you have the tools to find them. All you have to do is take it. Whether you’re using the flashlight to force ghosts out of hiding, sucking up everything in your sight with the Poltergust, or using the Dark Light Torch (supplied a little later in the game) to find invisible and hidden entrances and objects, you feel like you’re getting lost in the world. Similarly to the combat, puzzles that are solved along the way are never too difficult to figure out, but are always rewarding due to the nature of having limited tools. Allowing for every turn, every nook and cranny, every inch of the game feels like a playground built just for you.
The multiplayer components in Dark Moon are an interesting departure from the single player, but not much else. In them you will play 3 main modes with 3 other player online or locally. One in which you hunt down ghost puppies, another where you hunt down and fight ghosts, and another where you just try to find a way out of the level you are on. They all take place in a tower where your goal is to reach the top, moving up one floor at a time. After about an hour of doing this, I was ready to retreat back to the polished single player. Although there was fun to be found, it became repetitive quickly and a pain due to the obnoxious time limits.
The long story short is that if you have a 3DS, you should buy this game. If you have a love of exploration, you should buy this game. If you like Luigi, you should buy this game. If you’re looking for a reason to justify the 3D in your 3DS, you should buy this game. If you’re just looking for another game to entice you into buying a 3DS, add this one to the list. Because, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon isn’t only a good game, there’s also nothing else like it in modern gaming…and that’s something special.
Summary: Although there were some issues with Dark Moon, none of them could keep me from enjoying it. The multiplayer modes may have felt a bit tacked on, but the single player campaign was pure unadulterated fun and outweighed the negatives entirely. Stop reading this and go play this game!