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Luigi’s Mansion:  Dark Moon – 3DS

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – 3DS

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark MoonPlatform:  3DS

Release Date (NA):  March 24th, 2013

Developer:  Next Level Games

Publisher:  Nintendo

Genre:  Action / Adventure

Nerd Rating:  8 out of 10


Be sure to check out The Watchman’s take on Dark Moon and my review of the first Luigi’s Mansion!

Believe it or not, I picked this game up back on its launch date but until a few days ago never got more than a few minutes into it.  Due to my affinity for the first Luigi’s Mansion and reading through The Watchman’s review, I finally resigned myself to hours of handheld play and dove in.

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark MoonFor those who’ve spent a lot of time with the first gameDark Moon will seem to get off to a slow start.  Once you push through all of the talking and progress beyond the basic introductory levels to obtain necessary items, it’s extremely rewarding.  Instead of the single mansion where the entire first game takes place, Dark Moon expands the length by leaps and bounds with the search for Dark Moon fragments occurring in multiple locations throughout the Ever Shade Valley.

Those familiar with the first installment will catch on to the control scheme fairly quick.  For newcomers, the strange method of capturing ghosts will feel awkward at first but the game is paced well enough to allow one to master the controls before the really hard stuff starts happening.  Though unorthodox, it’s actually a well thought out scheme.  The 3DS unit’s motion sensors play a noticeable role in gameplay as well, allowing Luigi to peep through windows or holes in the wall and do things like walk across a narrow board while tilting the handheld to balance.

In lieu of the one long adventure from before, Luigi must undergo a set of missions set forth by Professor E. Gadd.  Early missions consist of finding the Poltergust 5000 or Strobulb and eliminating a few ghosts here and there.  Once completed, the Professor brings Luigi back to the bunker, talks forever, and then sends him back out.  Previous areas of the overall level can be visited again (except for boss battles) but in general the levels are structured so that the player uncovers new areas and gains access to previously locked rooms.  After all the missions in one setting are finished, Luigi moves on to a whole new location in Ever Shade Valley, separate from the previous one.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark MoonThroughout the missions Luigi can also collect treasure along the way and seek out gems.  All treasure as well as other accomplishments are tallied at the end of each mission and the player is given a rank based on performance, including how quickly the mission was completed.  Boos are also hidden in each mission and when the player captures all Boos in a level a special “infiltration mission” can be unlocked.  Several new items are found early in the game and throughout later levels special items can be used with the help of the Poltergust, such as the balloon which the player can inflate and deflate to navigate Luigi vertically.  The strange permanent elements from the first entry are thankfully absent.

The RPG elements of Luigi’s Mansion are toned down a little for Dark Moon but there are still plenty of puzzles to solve.  When it comes to finding gems, collecting treasure, and exploring unseen or hard to reach areas of certain stages there’s plenty of problem solving involved.  To fully enjoy Dark Moon one must be observant and creative with Luigi’s arsenal, especially the Dark Light.  Boss fights often require elaborate Rube-Goldberg type machinations and it isn’t always easy to pinpoint exactly how these big baddies can be defeated right away.  Most of these challenges are quite fun to figure out, however others are a little too hard.

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark Moon

Dark Moon retains a somewhat “open world” format within each set of levels.  Experimentation is highly encouraged, and part of what makes it so intriguing is how interactive some element of the environment are while others that appear more important are just for show.  Everything from the original GameCube title has been amped up a notch to good effect.  Having discrete missions help break up a long journey into identifiable pieces and the change of scenery from level to level lets Luigi do things that wouldn’t make much sense in the dusty old mansion.

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark Moon

A couple of things that other critics as well as myself have taken issue with is the lack of checkpoints and the unreasonably difficult sections that pop up from time to time.  While the episodic nature ensures that large amounts of progress are never lost, the missions do get longer as the game wears on.  Should Luigi be defeated, the mission must be started over.  Searching objects and fiddling around with other parts of the environment must all be done again to collect lost treasure.  Anything gained must be re-attained and this can be a disheartening and tedious activity.  Fortunately restorative hearts are abundant and make themselves even more available when Luigi’s health begins dropping.  It would be nice if there were one or two checkpoints per mission.

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark Moon

Dying isn’t really a huge problem when it comes to most of the game, but for whatever reason there are a few insanely challenging sections that pop up now and again.  Most of these involve ghosts with some sort of weaponry or shielding that prevents them from being stunned in the usual way by the Strobulb.  Death and defeat can usually be avoided if a little care is taken but sometimes the ghosts are just too fast or the area is difficult to move around in (the greenhouse room in the first mission of the Haunted Towers comes to mind).  Losing a few battles against bosses while trying to discover their weakness is inevitable, but E. Gadd is courteous enough to start the player off only a room or two away.

Luigi's Mansion:  Dark Moon

Luigi’s Mansion was, and still is, a great game and Dark Moon has managed to improve on what was already incredible.  Here’s more proof of Nintendo releasing many of their best offerings of the past few years for the DS / 3DS instead of focusing on the Wii U, but that’s a whole different story.  The 3DS is quickly becoming a must-have platform in its own right, if not for the 3D screen then for the accomplished library it boasts.  I hope our next adventure with Luigi happens on the big screen!

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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  1. This was the game that finally made me go and pickup a 3DS and I’m glad I did. I feel it doesn’t quite have the same charm that the first one did though, although it is a solid title in its own right.

    • Agreed. The atmosphere of the original is lost with so much of the 2nd game taking place outside of the mansion, though I’d probably argue that the first game was a bit short in the first place.

      I am glad Nintendo kept it going, even if it did take them 12 years. I wish they’d spend their time putting out games like this for the Wii U!


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