Sunday, November 4, 2018

Luigi's Mansion (3DS) Review

I might have missed out on posting this on Halloween, but that's quite alright! Luigi's Mansion was a fun game to revisit when I did several years ago with the GameCube original version. How does it hold up on the Nintendo 3DS? Well, come see for yourself with the SuperPhillip Central review.

Bustin' doesn't make me feel too good

In 2001, my mom and I waited outside Toys 'R Us on a dreary, rainy morning to stand in line for the Nintendo GameCube. Upon being let inside after about three hours of waiting, we were let in, and I grabbed slips for three games--back when you took slips up to customer service to exchange for the actual games... and, y'know, when Toys 'R Us was still a thing in business. Nevertheless, we picked up three games: one of these was Luigi's Mansion. Now, it's 17 years later (dang, that makes me feel really old!), and now the gigantic mansion that I explored back in 2001 is available for tiptoeing through in the palm of my hand with this Nintendo 3DS remake of the game.

The premise of Luigi's Mansion has our green clad hero winning a mansion from a contest that suspiciously enough he never entered. His brother Mario went ahead to check the place out, but has yet to return. Thus, with the help of Professor E. Gadd, Luigi equips a trusty and dusty Poltergust ghost-busting device to enter into the mansion--reluctantly, of course--and find out what happened to his brother. It's the same story and setup as it ever was way back in 2001.

Luigi's Mansion has you patrolling the halls and rooms of the mysterious mansion, solving puzzles and battling ghosts to receive keys that open up new rooms throughout the mansion. Every once in a while you'll take on a major boss battle which unlocks access to an entirely new wing of the mansion, such as the second floor or attic, for instance. While navigating through the innards and outdoors of the mansion, an optional but rewarding objective to keep in mind is to find as much money as possible. The amount you earn from defeating portrait ghosts, discovering treasure, and sucking up coins from various objects sprinkled throughout the environments go a long way to determining what type of ending to the game you get.

In fact, that brings me to one of the new features of the 3DS remake of Luigi's Mansion--achievements. These add some longevity and replay value to an otherwise relatively short adventure. (I'm talking about a four hour playtime for one's first go through the mansion.) These achievements reveal themselves in tiers, starting with the Beginner difficulty. Complete all of the relatively simple achievements in this category, and the next batch opens up to try. Though if you've already finished off some of the achievements in future categories, then those are automatically checked off ahead of time. Achievements give players different ways to go about playing Luigi's Mansion in ways they might not have thought of before. For instance, it could be a less than three-hour speed run through the game or not having Luigi's HP fall below 50 at any time throughout his ghastly adventure.

There are other new touches and additions to Luigi's Mansion on the Nintendo 3DS compared to the GameCube original. For one, there is now a Gallery where you can take on any defeated portrait ghost you've already battled in the main game. These are essentially time trials to attempt to get as great a time as possible while also gunning for fast captures of ghosts--for this gives you a better frame around each portrait ghost you capture.

For those unaware, portrait ghosts are special ghosts within Luigi's Mansion that take different tricks to capture, much less make vulnerable in order to suck them up. An early portrait ghost requires you to blow the nearby curtain open, so the broken window it reveals sends a gust of wind at the ghost, causing her to become vulnerable when she gets up to close the curtain once more.

The Gallery mode can be played with a second player who simply needs a Nintendo 3DS to join up with you. The process takes a little while for Download Play to connect both players, but it makes taking down ghosts and bosses all the easier. Though, it doesn't necessarily make it more fun, as the connection between systems lends itself to a lot of lag. Still, it's a nice option to have. If both players have a copy of the game, both can play the main campaign cooperatively with one another. I did not get to try out co-op in this form, as the cost of buying two copies of the same game didn't really entice too terribly much.

No doubt you're wondering how Luigi's Mansion on the 3DS plays on the system compared to the GameCube. After all, the 3DS system lacks the analog triggers and second stick of the GameCube controller. Despite having a multitude of control options available, I never found one that really impressed me. In fact, most of the time it was quite the opposite.

While fighting ghosts, I found myself also fighting with the controls. Sure, with the New Nintendo 3DS XL I was playing with, I could move with the Circle Pad while aiming with the analog nub, but it's just that--a nub. It's no substitute for a second stick. Seeing the nub wasn't getting me anywhere fast (except incredibly frustrated), I turned to the D-Pad for aiming. Of course, having both the Circle Pad for movement and the D-Pad for aiming on the same side of the 3DS meant I couldn't use and do both at the same time. Well, unless I wanted to go old school Monster Hunter and do "the claw", but I'm SO over doing that.

The B button is used to sidestep when Luigi is facing the target he wants to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, most of the time I found that Luigi when using his vacuum would use the suction power on everything but my intended target. This is in part of the perspective of the camera, which is a serious pain when trying to judge depth and where enemies are in relation to Luigi. Even the 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS does not help here. Instead, it merely causes all of the colors to bleed over on to dark parts of the screen for a "ghosting" effect, and not even the kind that Luigi can suck up with his Poltergust.

While the controls and camera positioning leave a lot to be desired, the presentation of Luigi's Mansion is a combination of improvement and being a downgrade. In some parts of the visuals, things are better off, such as the more detailed models and textures within the environments. On the other hand, several of the cooler visual effects of the GameCube original are less pronounced in the 3DS version, and most evident are the dust particle and lighting effects.

Luigi's Mansion on the 3DS is by no means a game I regret purchasing, but at the same time, I would have rather seen it as an appetizer for Switch owners to play as we get ready for Luigi's Mansion 3. Not because I'm starving for games on the Switch, but just because Nintendo's hybrid has more options with regards to controls. I'm certain I wouldn't have had anywhere near as much of a headache with Luigi's Mansion on the Switch compared to the 3DS. Regardless, I should be talking about what is and not what should have been. Luigi's Mansion's remake downgrades more than it improves, but the base game is still a solid one. By virtue on being on the Nintendo 3DS, though, Luigi's Mansion's remake never stood a ghost of a chance of being truly fantastic.

[SPC Says: C]

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