Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon 3DS Review
You probably thought that your days of fighting ghosts were over, since Luigi managed to clear that mansion that he won in a fake contest, but that’s just because you didn’t know about Evershade Valley, the main location for the Nintendo 3DS adventure Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, which Next Level Games designed for Nintendo. The real quest ion is this – is it a frighteningly good time, or does it have the potential to scare away potential gamers?
This time around, it’s Professor E. Gadd that is asking for Luigi’s help in busting ghosts. It would seem that since the previous caper, the Professor has become something of a ghost expert, and was checking out Evershade Valley because an object in the sky called the Dark Moon (hence the title) made the ghosts docile and even helpful. However, a villain (which fans of other games in the Mario franchise will recognize from the opening sequence as King Boo) corrupted the Dark Moon and broke it in to pieces, making all the ghosts in the valley just as mischievous and/or dangerous as the ones that Wii owners saw before. Knowing that Luigi has ghost busting experience (although Luigi is definitely scared of them), the Professor grabs him and tells him the situation. He then sends him to the home he was using as his research center, the Gloomy Mansion, in order to both fix the dark moon, and to nab any ghosts he might find along the way. This time around, the Professor has the new and improved Poltergust 5000 ghost catching vacuum for Luigi, which eventually gets both a Flash Light attachment that allows Luigi to stun ghosts in order to catch them, and a Dark Light Device that can reveal things that would normally be concealed without using the device, such as doors and platforms.
Of course, along with catching ghosts, the vacuum can also be used to grab parts of the environment, and to grab any money that might be in the area. After getting a few upgrades, the vacuum can actually grant money for catching ghosts if held properly long enough. The ghosts themselves are fairly varied, with some that are actually entirely harmless (and therefore merely tedious to catch) to those that are dangerous no matter how you confront them. Each one requires a different strategy, and it gets far more challenging when one is facing a mix of them. Of course, along with the many varieties of regular (and unique) ghosts present, there are also plenty of Boos present, because what is a king without his subjects? These Boos require the Dark Light Device to find and catch, so there is definitely some replay value in re-visiting levels where one hasn’t found one.
Along with the ghost capture, there is plenty of problem solving involved in the game. Certain stages throughout the game are entirely problem solving situations, with ghost battles going relatively briefly, though they become less frequent, or at least simply part of a stage instead of an entire stage, as the game progresses. However, some of them require creative actions, such as using the vacuum’s reverse to spin certain items, utilizing the Dark Light Device to reveal a path that would normally appear impassable, or grabbing items in the environment in order to progress. Some puzzle similarities mean that players can use knowledge gained from previous puzzles in new puzzles, but the problems change from “mansion” to “mansion”.
Of course, in order to make this game seem different from the previous installment, while the main villain is still King Boo, and you still fight plenty of ghosts, there is not just one gigantic mansion, but rather five locations which Luigi has to clear. They include two actual mansions, a multi-tower greenhouse, a clockworks, and a mine. Each one has a different environmental theme, and therefore also has different types of obstacles to overcome. Because the main reason for going to each location is to find a piece of the Dark Moon to make it whole, the final stage on each level involves a boss battle, each of which is more of a problem-solving interaction than a major boss battle. However, the final showdown, while obvious, takes every last bit of experience gained from the game in order to win (including upgrades gained from accruing money in the game).
As far as extras in the game, there are plenty available for those that want to find every last thing in the game. The Boos, of course, are a major one. However, simply revealing hidden items with the Dark Light Device rewards individuals with some decent items. It’s also possible to free Professor E. Gadd’s regular Toad assistants from items that have them trapped. If players want to obtain statues of Luigi, they can try to find gem stones, with each type being unique to one of the five mansions. Although these are mostly present to encourage exploration, they are fun to find. Finally, there is a cooperative multiplayer mode called the ScareScraper, which has timed modes that are entirely about using the Poltergust 5000’s different tricks to beat levels and keep going on up, possibly to the maximum of twenty-five levels. All of this means that just because a player has defeated the main game, actually playing the game is far from over.
One thing that this game does well that many 3DS developers have seemed to forget is to use the technology available on the 3DS. The stereoscopic projection actually makes the visuals pop far more than when one is viewing the flattened image. The player actually moves the handheld console around – or has the choice to, at any rate – in order to look around during first-person instances. The touch screen acts almost exactly like the DS is supposed to function in the game’s story (Dual Scare instead of Dual Screen, according to E. Gadd). The level of complexity and detail also makes it clear that they pushed the data storage capabilities on the 3DS game card. Unlike some 3DS games, it really feels like developers would have done Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon a disservice had they offered it on other gaming platforms.
Overall, the game is an enjoyable experience that lets a character that normally stands in his brother’s shadow, or very, very far away from it, shine as the lead. Next Level Games has come in to this franchise and made it fun and memorable, meaning that players should commend Nintendo for being willing to branch out to a third party developer with a carefully guarded property. Hopefully this isn’t the last Next Level entry for the 3DS.
+ Great level design
+ Perfect use of 3DS technology
+ Fun and detailed level designs
+ Game play that slowly increases in challenge
+ Villains that require multiple strategies
+ Family-friendly characters and setting
+ Allusions to horror genre don’t turn in to a horror game
+ Consistently entertaining, with few dull points
+ Many problem-solving situations
+ Fun characters and goal rewards
+ Focus on a beloved secondary character
– Some parts can seem a little too juvenile
– A few extras are exceedingly difficult to locate
– Game may seem like it “talks down” to older kids
– Extras may seem pointless to kids that just want to finish the game
– Scarescraper is not immediately available