‘Wait a minute- Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon was released ages ago, why review it now?’ I hear you say. Well, despite the fact that I have had the game for a while now, I didn’t want to write anything about it until I could spend more time playing through it, which I have now managed to do.
Diving right into the game, the premise is as uncomplicated and straightforward as that of its predecessor. You are given a Poltergust (ghost vacuum) and pointed in the direction of a series of locations which need to be rid of a slew of ghosts ranging from the mildly pesky to the down-right deranged. It sounds simple, and it is. This is a game which you really can just pick up and play right off the bat; no lengthy tutorials or back story break up the pace of the game. The mechanics are simple; stun ghosts with a burst from your flashlight and then use your Poltergust to hoover them up and trap them in a miniature ghost prison. The bigger and more powerful the ghost, the longer and more difficult this process becomes, with some requiring upgrades to both the torch and hoover to defeat. Upgrades are bought via treasure collected throughout the various levels, adding an incentive to flash and hoover literally anything that might contain treasure.
Sounds simple? Yes, it is. Is it boring? Actually, no it isn’t. Despite the fact that you are essentially wandering around scooping up ghosts and treasure, the game manages to keep this feeling fresh and engaging. This is in part down to the visuals. The game looks great, with wonderful animations on both Luigi and the ghosts, and beautifully rendered environments which have a charmingly haunting, macabre look to them. The spectral effects on the ghosts is impressive, enabling them to act as you would expect a ghost to. In places they almost appear to be fluid, phasing through objects, hiding in vases and turning invisible to try and trick the eye. In addition to this, the game actually makes a good use of the 3D option. The game looks beautiful to begin with but the 3D really does bring the game to life (metaphorically speaking.)
The musical composition for this game is also very good and contributes well to creating a haunting atmosphere which enables you to become fully immersed in the act of ghost hunting. Each level has its own theme music which I can guaranteed you will end up humming to yourself for days after playing. The manic cackling and gibbering of the ghosts as they go about their nefarious deeds is a nice touch which helps to add a bit of character to the games’ main enemies.
Potentially my fvourite thing about this game are the nice little Nintendo in-jokes and references scattered throughout the game such as the professor’s constant jibes at Luigi’s expense and the fact that Luigi’s mobile phone is an old DS with the Luigi’s Mansion theme tune as its ring tone. The quirky humour and simple, addictive gameplay combine to make a highly enjoyable game which you can pick up and play at any time without suddenly losing hours of your day. The levels come in short enough bursts to allow this while still retaining an air of substance. The main criticism of this games predecessor on the GameCube was that it was far too short, and i’m happy to say that this has been heeded, there are now plenty of levels to play through, but not so many that it becomes stale.
Any downsides? Well, there is no denying that the game is pretty easy overall. The game can be beat without too much difficulty. However, the main difficulty is found in trying to find all the Boo’s hidden within each level and scoring the highest level grades for capturing all ghosts and treasure without taking too much damage or losing too much time. Despite some problems with difficulty levels this game is well worth a look and is yet another example of quality 3DS gaming.