A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Version – 3DS Retail eShop download
ESRB Rating: ‘E’ – Everyone
Release Date: 3/24/2013
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Nintendo
We have the first title within the “Year of Luigi” and it is a sequel to one of the GameCube’s launch titles. It’s been 12 years since Luigi has starred in his own title. Will Dark Moon be a game to be frightened away from, or will you be too scared to put it down?
The Dark Moon has been shattered into different pieces and separated across different haunted mansions. This Dark Moon was keeping the ghosts in a peaceful state and now the ghosts are wrecking havoc everywhere. It’s up to Luigi to reassemble the Dark Moon and restore peace for the ghosts with the help of Professor E. Gadd and his Poltergeist 5000. Luigi will use a flashlight, dark light and the Poltergeist 5000 to capture ghosts and restore hidden objects and furniture.
Gameplay & Controls
The gameplay is quite solid and pretty familiar to those that played the GameCube title. There are a variety of mansions to play through, and each mansion is divided into five missions. While each mission you have the freedom to explore as much of the mansion as possible, the player can be limited based on the inability to find a proper key or method to proceed. After the five missions, the player will deal with a major boss who possesses the Dark Moon piece. There is a secret mission if the player found all of the Boos within the mansion (one per mission). Basically the player must reveal a hidden object with the Dark Light which a Boo has made hidden. The player then does a ghost battle with the Boo.
Throughout the mansion, there are hidden pieces of furniture or chests that were made invisible and can be revealed for treasure. Revealing the treasure can uncover coins, cash, gold or even hidden keys. The money goes towards an overall treasure score which unlocks upgrades for Luigi’s Poltergeist 5000 or Flashlight. Along with hidden treasure, there are hidden ghosts to uncover. Speaking of ghosts, throughout the missions there are ghosts that possessing particular objects and also those causing havoc by stealing items that prevent Luigi from locating the Dark Moon shard. The ghost battles can be challenging at times since they need to be blinded by the flashlight first and then be sucked up. They will become smarter and hold objects to block the flash or team up on Luigi and throw objects at him so he will not be able to easily suck up ghosts. The player can also find golden dog bones which just add to the treasure hunt, however if the player manages to lose all their health, it will revive Luigi as it can act as a ‘bonus life’.
The controls are really solid for this game as Luigi has the ability to look up and also suck objects attached to the ceiling. Each button has it’s own importance while going through the missions. There is one to activate the dark light (once the player finds the bulb), to use or charge the flashlight, to run and finally to use the vacuum. The controls work perfectly well and there is only one particular issue. While using the dark light or charging the flashlight, Luigi cannot rotate around to target a ghost that has went behind him. This causes the player to release the charge and begin charging anew. As the player progresses through the game, the ghosts get more difficult to blind as they will block their face with other objects and only allow a short second period where the player can blind them. So this adds an unnecessary difficult element to catching ghosts.
Finally, I did try out the multiplayer aspect of the game as I found a few Japanese opponents along with someone that was at PAX. The players work together to track ghosts or the ghost pups within a mansion. The players must locate and capture all of the ghost pups to move to the next level. There are a few limited commands that the players can use to tell their team mates similar to the pre-chat on Mariokart 7. Co-Op games typically work best where the communication is constant or also voiced. While this works for local multi-player, it makes it more difficult to play online with strangers if you can’t tell players what rooms to cover. I believe that local multi-player would be more enjoyable since the player would be able to talk directly with their friends to strategize each floor of the mansion.
Visuals/3D Effects & Sound
The visuals are pretty stellar in Dark Moon. The backgrounds and designs of each of the rooms are unique and full of character. Each room is rich with detail and everything just looks fantastic. The 3D effects add much more to the environment and really give the game a sense of character. This is another one of those titles where the 3D effect really stands out above other games. With the game having a mostly fixed camera, the 3D adds that sense of depth and realism to each room. The sounds are creepy and fun and add that awesome feel to the game that makes everything you are looking at, that much better. As with the original game, there are moments where Luigi will hum the theme tune, which adds that little something extra.
There is one particular thing to mention in this category as well. While Luigi is adventuring through the mansion solving puzzles, Professor E. Gadd will contact him through a Nintendo DS (surprised he didn’t get a 3DS) and the Luigi’s Mansion theme song will play until the player answers the call. The problem is that this will happen multiple times per mission and can get on the annoying side. He will always call before he pulls Luigi back through the pixelator or after a major ghost fight. He also calls to add new objectives during the mission, so basically he is always contacting Luigi.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a quite a fun game and full of puzzles and hidden treasures to find. It is a gorgeous game and very well designed and even has a bit of challenge. The variety of puzzles to solve and finding secret passageways and treasures really adds that something extra to make the game incredibly enjoyable. I would recommend this game to fans of puzzle/adventure games and those that are fans of the original game.
+ Stellar 3D graphics and immersive environments
+ Challenging, thoughtful puzzles with a variety of ghosts
+ Missions & mansions are deep and contain many hidden secrets and treasures
- A nagging Professor E. Gadd
- Limiting online multi-player mode
- Locking flashlight/dark light controls