- Addictive gameplay
- Fantastic presentation
- Good replay value
- New mission-based structure constantly breaks the flow of the game
- Story mode is a bit short
- Far too easy
One of the things that the Mario franchise is a bit infamously known for is the sheer number of new games that are churned out every year. Even the various spin-offs of the series, such as Mario Kart and Mario Party, have received numerous iterations and both of the aforementioned are almost into double figures in terms of the number of titles that have released to-date. It comes as a surprise then that one of the very best and most original Mario spin-off games, the GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion (which debuted no less than eleven years ago), has never gotten its own sequel. Until now that is. Yep, Nintendo has finally decided that the time is right for a new game starring the more cowardly of the two Mario brothers and his trusty ghost-busting vacuum cleaner.
Things were pretty well wrapped up at the end of the original Luigi’s Mansion, so how exactly has our green-clad hero been lured back into clearing out haunted mansions of ghosts and ghoulies? Well an object called the ‘Dark Moon’, which hangs in the sky above the region of Evershade Valley (and is also coincidentally where the eccentric Professor E.Gadd has recently set-up shop to research the behaviour of ghosts), has shattered, turning the once docile ghostly inhabitants of the valley into undead nightmares. So naturally, given his previous experience in the field, it’s up to Luigi to get in there and sort the situation out.
Just like the original Luigi’s Mansion gameplay primarily involves searching the rooms of a mansion to track down ghosts, which you then guide the terrified Luigi to suck up into his trusty Poltergust 5000 for Professor E.Gadd to lock in his vault. Given the lack of dual analog sticks on the 3DS you’d naturally wonder how the controls could be as intuitive as in the original Luigi’s Mansion, but thankfully it plays brilliantly. The analog stick is of course used to move Luigi, whilst the ‘R’ and ‘L’ button are used to suck and blow with the Poltergust respectively. Once you’ve latched on to a ghost all you have to do is wiggle the analog stick to generate enough power to capture the ghost, which will struggle to get away whilst you’re doing so, effectively making the whole process a tug-of-war.
The Poltergust isn’t the only tech that Luigi gets to wield in the new game however; he also has a brand new upgraded flashlight called the Dark Light torch. Hitting the ‘Y’ button activates Dark Light mode on the torch which is used to locate hidden objects in a mansion that are totally invisible otherwise. It’s a great new mechanic that leads to some interesting puzzles, but sadly it’s the only major new gameplay concept in the game. It’s a bit of a shame to be honest as it would have been nice to see Luigi gain access to more tech or some substantial upgrades throughout the course of the campaign to keep things fresh.
Unlike the original game which saw you gradually make your way through the rooms of a single mansion, the 3DS sequel is actually set across multiple mansions – five in total. Each one has its own unique theme that differentiates it from the others, so for instance you’ve got one mansion that’s been overrun with plants and vegetation, another that’s an abandoned clock manufacturer and so on. After clearing the ghosts out of the majority of each mansion, you’ll then reach a boss battle which, after defeat, will drop a segment of the shattered Dark Moon. Retrieving each piece opens up access to the next mansion, which sees you repeat the process in a new environment. It might sound a bit tedious but given how much fun it is sweeping up ghosts and solving puzzles, it never feels like that. What I would say however is that the game is far too easy (even the final boss is a total breeze) and you’ll likely only find yourself stuck a couple of times throughout the entire campaign.
Another major new change that has been made in Luigi’s Mansion 2 is that the game is now split up into missions, usually around five per mansion, each lasting around twenty-to-thirty minutes or so and see Luigi completing specific tasks set by Professor E.Gadd (who barks instructions at you through a customised Nintendo DS – which is a nice nod to the custom Game Boy Color that was used for communication in the original). For instance, one mission might involve you making your way to a certain room or wing in which paranormal activity has been detected, whereas another could see you fetching an object that’s required to progress to a new area of the mansion. Personally I much preferred the structure of the original game, which flowed seamlessly and didn’t break up the gameplay every half hour by transporting you back to a HUB, but then again it is a handheld title after all, so it’s understandable that Ninty have chosen to go with splitting the game up into thirty-odd separate missions.
Graphically Luigi’s Mansion 2 looks absolutely stunning. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s the best looking game currently available on the 3DS. Everything looks vibrant and full of colour, character models are superbly detailed and look fantastic, especially Luigi himself, and the same applies to textures and environments as a whole. Flick the 3D switch up and things get even better – the game essentially becomes a pop-up book and it really does come to life. Throughout the course of the game I never turned 3D mode off because it adds so much visually to the title. Soundtrack-wise things are equally as impressive, with the insanely catchy, unmistakable Luigi’s Mansion theme making its return as well as whole host of great new tracks and a fantastic new theme tune. In regards to presentation, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is truly exceptional.
So is Luigi’s Mansion 2 a worthy successor to the pretty much universally-loved GameCube original? Absolutely. It’s not perfect though – it’s far too easy and, although it lasts longer than its predecessor, it still isn’t long enough. Thankfully there is a lot of replay value in the form of Boo hunting, gem collecting and the brilliant multiplayer mode (which sees a team of human-controlled Luigi’s work together to bust ghosts and collect treasure as you work your way up the floors of a haunted hotel), but it would have been nice to see at least one more mansion to extend the game’s length by a couple more hours. And as mentioned earlier in the review, I’m really not a fan of the mission-based structure of the game and the far too frequent trips to the HUB which kill the atmosphere and really break the flow, which is exactly the opposite to how the original worked. Regardless of its shortcomings however, the ridiculously fun gameplay, great graphics, catchy soundtrack and overall charm make it an exceptional title and easily among the very best on the 3DS.