Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon First Impression

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon  is the newest title for the Nintendo 3DS featuring one or more of the Brothers Mario and is a sequel to 2001’s Luigi’s Mansion on the GameCube.  This time you are exploring and de-ghosting  some haunted houses while collecting the pieces of the Dark Moon.  Yea, a lot like on the GameCube but this time, portable.

It's a me!  Luigi?

It’s a me! Luigi?

Having lured you in with that masterfully written synopsis of the game you will now be subjected to a tale of misery and woe.  I had been looking forward to Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon since it was announced in 1864 by President Abraham Lincoln.  I got my first hands-on at 2012 Comic-Con and after all the waiting and gnashing of teeth I finally got it on 3/25.  Playing the first part of the first mansion was glorious!  Luigi being scared, ghosts pounding him, Luigi pulling the shower curtain down on something in the shower…bliss, but then, tragedy!  My left trigger stopped working!  It just stopped working…and so I packed up my little black 3DS in it’s little cardboard shipping coffin and sent it away to the Church of Mario for a resurrection.  It finally returned on Friday 4/5 working as good as new.  In fact I think they also swapped out the top screen because of some 3D camera issue.  Fine with me, I didn’t even know it could take 3D pictures.  Too bad they’re only 3D on the 3DS.  So now that I’ve had a largely uninterrupted weekend with Luigi I think I can comment on his performance.

The graphics are beautiful.  Very colorful for a haunted mansion game.  Ghosts are crisp, lightning flashes are bright.  Rooms light up and go dark but not so dark that you can’t see anything.  Very well done.  The 3D, which I normally keep off, is very well done.  It conveys a lot of variation in depth and does add to the immersion of certain parts.  For example:  Travelling to the houses is done through something like a warp tunnel and it’s very cool with the 3D on.  On the downside are the areas that put you in first person mode, usually looking out windows or through cracks in the wall.  You tilt the device to look around and that kills the 3D dead.  3DS’s 3D requires a certain viewing angle be maintained so the first person thing causes you to swing your head around to try and keep that angle.  It’s a small and fairly meaningless part of the game and won’t hinder your performance.  That being said I keep the 3D off because it doesn’t really do anything for the gameplay except drain the battery.

The sound is great.  I also tend to keep the sound down or off but I look forward to turning up the sound when I’m playing this and bring my earbuds to the cafe when I’m alone so I can hear it.  The music is catchy, it does get a little redundant but throughs in enough changes here and there that you won’t feel compelled to turn it down for a while.  The ghost catching music is harried and fast, just the way that aspect plays out and the sound affects are either perfect so that you don’t actually notice them or fun to bring a smile on your face.

The controls are good.  They could be better.  During the game you’ll be using X to look up, A to flash a light, A (again) to capture a ghost. Y to use a different flashlight and B to sprint.  Right Trigger makes the vacuum suck in the direction you’re facing but you can’t change you’re facing while you’re vacuuming. Left Trigger makes the vacuum blow in the direction you’re facing but you can’t change your facing with this either.  Up to this point in the game, has served no significant purpose.   A common scenario would be a ghost that’s above you so you press X to look up, then you hold A to charge your flash, then you hold Right Trigger while you’re still holding X to activate the vacuum and you use the circle pad to pull away from the ghost at this point you can choose to let go of X if you feel you have the coordination for it.  When your suck meter (?) is full you press A again while still holding Right Trigger to capture the ghost.  This does not become intuitive.  The controls are responsive.  I never felt I lost a ghost or failed to dodge because of the controls, only because of my inability to juggle 5 function on right hand.

Gameplay is a good cross of exploration, puzzle solving and ghost combat as described above.  The exploration is enjoyable.  You really do feel like you’re in a creepy old house.  Critters and cobwebs abound and ghosts pop out of different areas to challenge you, sometimes unexpectedly but usually you expect it.  Problem solving is typical Nintendo fare.  Most puzzles are clued somehow and even the ones that aren’t (or if you miss the clue) can be solved with a little trial and error or further exploration.  Experienced gamers will love the atmosphere and exploring secrets, newer gamers won’t be made to feel stupid.  It’s a great balance.

Norman "Luigi" Bates

Norman “Luigi” Bates

The game does have multiplayer.  It can be done locally and wirelessly and also offers a download mode for folks who don’t own the game.  I haven’t put more than an hour or two into it through local play but they have been fun hours.  I can’t say too much except that the controls, sounds and graphics carry over.  You lose the exploration aspect but you do gain the benefit of goofing around with someone while catching ghosts.

I haven’t finished the game, thus the “First Impression” designation but so far I’m loving Luigi’s Mansion.  Not only does it tie for the best 3DS game this year, alongside Fire Emblem: Awakening, it’s probably one of the best games for the system as a whole.  Next Level Games did a fantastic job with this title.  They captured the personality of Luigi perfectly.  I hope Nintendo continues to deliver titles with Luigi as a title character…I can only take so much of that arrogant brother of his.

You can pick up Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon at Amazon.  I do NOT recommend getting it from the eShop until they figure out a way to link accounts.  Yes, I own more than 1 3Ds and a cartridge allows me to play on all of them with my saved data.

Disclosure: I am not associated with Nintendo of America, Next Level Games or any of the products or web pages mentioned in this article.  The cartridge of Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon I used to write this article was purchased by myself from amazon.com.

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