Bustin' Makes Luigi Feel Good
It was once unheard of to not see a Mario title release with a new Nintendo hardware launch. Now, we're basically accustomed to that with the Wii and Nintendo 3DS. Still, it was a shame that a traditional Mario title was nowhere to be found at the GameCube's launch in 2001. Instead, Nintendo opted to give Mario's then-often overlooked thinner brother Luigi some time in the spotlight. The game was Luigi's Mansion, something incredibly atypical as not just a Mario spin-off, but as a game in general. Sucking up ghosts was the name of the game (well, actually the name of the game was Luigi's Mansion, but you know what I mean), and the title received cult classic status among fans. More than a decade later and part of the Year of Luigi promotion, Luigi has returned to his ghost-busting ways with Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. The game was developed by Next Level Games, whose past successes with Nintendo include Mario Strikers: Charged and Punch-Out!!, both for Wii. Dark Moon is not only an excellent Nintendo 3DS exclusive, but it's also a superior game to its predecessor.
Evershade Valley is where Professor E. Gadd has been investigating ghosts. While the Dark Moon proudly shines in the night sky, the ghosts behave themselves well. However, when King Boo somehow returns from his painting imprisonment, he shatters the Dark Moon into six pieces which are strewn through the valley. The ghosts turn from kind, gentle, and rambunctious to wild, sinister, and unruly. With no one else to turn to, Professor E. Gadd summons a relaxing Luigi and tasks him with restoring the six pieces of the Dark Moon to bring back order to Evershade Valley.
Careful, Luigi. You don't want to end up
IN one of those graves!
|Luigi should have brought a parka or something.|
|A Toad in need is a Toad indeed.|
Luigi takes clearing the table to
a whole 'nother level.
These suits of armor won't hold any prejudice
in slicing up unsuspecting plumbers!
Sometimes ghosts will hide behind objects, requiring you to figure out how to get behind them or make them drop the object they are hiding behind. There are also a myriad of ghost types: some that hide inside objects, popping out only to throw hazards at Luigi; some look like they've been using steroids all of their lives; and some spew slippery goo at Luigi to not only trip him up but damage him.
Sucking up more than one ghost simultaneously
is usually the best way of doing things.
Playing through the solo mode of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon will last most players anywhere between 10-15 hours for an initial run-through. Nonetheless, finding and obtaining all of the gems, capturing every Boo, and earning a three-star rank on each mission will make the game last even longer. Perhaps my biggest quip with the single-player experience is how a lot of missions don't encourage bite-sized play. A good portion of the missions take upwards of a half-hour for a first-time player with no opportunity to save one's progress. Still, it's a small quibble with an awesome game.
What will also make Dark Moon last longer is something that Unlike the original Luigi's Mansion on GameCube lacked-- its own multiplayer mode, known as The Scarescraper (har-har). This mode unlocks after the majority of the first mansion has been completed in single-player. There are three different multiplayer match types: Hunter, Rush, and Polterpup. Hunter has you vacuuming up all specters in every room to clear the floor and move onto the next. Rush has you racing against the clock to find the exit to the floor. Along the way you can pick up little timers to extend how many seconds you have to work with. Finally, Polterpup pits the player or players against a swarm of Polterpup ghosts. You must seek them out from their hiding spots and capture them before time runs out.
Team up with friends or total strangers
in the Scarescraper!
As each room is cleared, a Red Coin Challenge occurs. Four red coins will pop up at random locations on the floor. If all four are collected within the strict time limit, then a roulette determines which player gets a bonus prize for the next floor. This can be goggles that let you see invisible objects or even an upgrade to the suction power of your Poltergust 5000. Getting more red coins means your chances of being the player to win the prize increases.
Dark Moon is a delight to look at and listen to. Like Luigi's Mansion was a technical showcase for the GameCube, Dark Moon is technical showcase for the Nintendo 3DS. The lighting is just fabulous, the character animations are fantastic with how well the move to their hilarious expressions, and the game runs at a steady frame-rate for the most part. The sound is also well done, with Charles Martinet doing a splendid job as Luigi, and music that is infectious and infinitely hum-able.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon continues the Nintendo 3DS's reign as a competent platform for games for 2013. It outclasses its predecessor in nearly every category, from design, to story, to structure, to secrets, etc. The addition of multiplayer adds even more replay value to an already packed game. Bustin' definitely doesn't just make Luigi feel good-- it makes almost everyone who will play Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon feel good too!
[SPC Says: 9.25/10]