REVIEW: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

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Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Title Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Publisher Nintendo
Developer Next Level Games
Release Date March 24, 2013 (NA), March 28, 2013 (PAL)
Genre Action-Adventure
Platforms Nintendo 3DS
Age Rating ESRB: E, PEGI: 7
Official Website

In 2001, Nintendo launched their newest system, the GameCube, with a game that starred Luigi called Luigi’s Mansion. Once gamers got past the fact that it was not like the platforming games they were used to with Mario, it was received well and was the fifth highest selling game on the console. However, like most things in the GameCube era of Nintendo, it was pushed behind the curtain as Nintendo thrived with tried and true concepts in the Wii/DS era.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Flash forward to E3 2011. Nintendo announced five games that would be coming to the 3DS. These were Mario Kart 7, Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, Kid Icarus: Uprising (our Best of the 3DS last year), and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. The new Luigi’s Mansion would release well after the other games, releasing just about one year after Kid Icarus: Uprising. Why was this? I’m thinking Nintendo would have liked an October release for Halloween but, since that was close to the Wii U launch, they opted to delay the game and wait until the later part of the launch window to release the game so that neither would take from the other’s sales.

Well, that’s enough talking about the history. Let’s start talking about the game.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon begins with the nutty Professor Elvin Gadd as he studies the ghosts in the mansion he works at. Suddenly, the Dark Moon, a large jewel that keeps the ghosts friendly, is broken and stolen by King Boo and causes the ghosts around E. Gadd to start causing trouble. He calls for help from the only person he knows can do the job: Luigi. Reluctantly – and with E. Gadd not taking no for an answer – Luigi takes up the ghost-sucking vacuum once more to help collect the ghosts from five different mansions (well, four mansions and a mine) and repair the Dark Moon.

This is already a better set-up than the previous game (winning a mansion in a contest Luigi didn’t enter). And even after the set-up, the story does very well (comparatively speaking). I’m not too fond of parts of the ending but I’ll get to that later.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Screenshot

Controls are well done with pretty much the same style of play crossing over from the previous game. Flash the light with A, suck with R, and pull back with the control pad. You can also reveal certain hidden objects with Y (you’ll get a Darklight to do that in level 4). And if you have trouble getting something up high, hit the X button to look up or use the gyro controls built into the 3DS to adjust when using either the vacuum or the light.

Speaking of motion controls, there are instances where you will need to utilize the gyro-sensor in the 3DS to help reach certain areas. You’ll also use this when looking into rooms or inspecting images. Though I know that some people on staff had issues with this, I didn’t have too much of a problem with the controls. So, take of that what you will.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Screenshot

Instead of the level set-up in the previous game – where you pretty much sucked up multiple boss ghosts at a time and Toads littered the mansion for you to save – the game is designed with 10-20 minute levels. It’s definitely designed for the portable system in mind.

And each level is doable the first time if you’re mindful of your surroundings. The only time I died was when I wasn’t paying attention to a temperature gauge in one particular boss fight. I made the mental adjustments I needed to and was able to beat the level the next time. Basically, what I’m trying to say is you can beat this game if you don’t suck (or perhaps “unless you refuse to suck”).

There was only one real issue I had with the game. It deals with some animation issues I had with the game. Whenever E. Gadd sends Luigi through the Pixelator to a new level (or back for that matter), the frame rate appears to drop and you get this weird effect of watching a Tim Burton stop-motion movie. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they intended but it’s only a minor issue to me since it creates the interesting effect. As for the rest of the cutscenes, all of them looked fine except for a couple of late game scenes where the frame rate seemed to drop off.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

And other than an end-game spoiler that doesn’t really affect the game, that’s pretty much it. Every fault I could find with this game is easily mended with the abundance of personality found. The music may be repetitive, but it’s amusing to hear Luigi either hum or whistle along with it. The cutscenes can get choppy, but it’s humorous to watch Luigi interact with either the mansion ghosts, the Polterpup, the Toads, or even with E. Gadd. Heck, one of the first scenes has Luigi breaking the fourth wall to tell the audience that he thinks E. Gadd is crazy. That’s hilarious.

And frankly, that’s something that’s missing from the Mario series. Sure, some of the newer games seem to have a lot of heart but it seems like a number of them are just going through the paces. And any personality we get is just that of Mario saying that he’s the greatest. Actually, let me re-phrase that: he speaks in the third person and says “Mario #1.” Mario, I love ya, but [SPOILERS] when Luigi saves the world from King Boo, the last thing I want to hear you say is “Luigi, you saved Mario.” I went through five different buildings in 8 hours, fought King Boo in some weird dimension, and the only thing you can say is “You saved Mario?” Seriously Nintendo, teach Mario how to say things like ‘I’ and ‘me’ for situations like this. [END SPOILERS]

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was very fun to play. And, even though we know that it is a toned down horror game designed to be cutesy, it did legitimately get me to jump out of my chair when I saw King Boo in the later part of the game. I’ll definitely continue playing this, especially if other players continue playing the ScareScraper.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Oh, and before I go, let’s touch upon the multiplayer section known as the ScareScraper. There are four different play settings, from Hunter (take out all the ghosts before time runs out), Rush (find the exit), Polterpup (capture the Polterpups), and Surprise (randomly selects one of the previous settings before each floor). This works very well, though there may be some lag that happens when you play; so be aware of that. But whichever setting you play in, DON’T BE THAT GUY THAT DOES NOTHING AND HAS EVERYONE ELSE DO THE WORK!

And now, I leave you with modified lyrics to Lloyd Price’s 1959 hit, Personality, for the First Brother of Gaming:

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Oh-oh-over and over, he’ll prove himself to you.
Over and over. What more can he do?
Over and over, they all say he’s a fool.
But oh-oh-over and over, he’ll be a fool for you.

‘Cause he’s got Personality.
Walk (with Personality)
Talk (with Personality)
Smile (with Personality)
Dance (with Personality)
Charm (with Personality)
Plus, he’s got a great big heart.

So over and over, he’ll be a fool for you.
Now over and over. What more can he do?

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Review Score

Review copy was purchased by the reviewer.

About Jeff Neuenschwander

Jeff has been a supporter of the website and campaign since the beginning. Joining in for E3 2012, he worked his way up the ranks quickly, making it to the Editing Manager post at the beginning of 2013. Jeff has a wide variety of tastes when it comes to gaming and pretty much likes anything that is quirky, although his favorite genres are Action, Platforming, and RPG. Outside of gaming, Jeff is a musician, being trained as a trombonist for Jazz and Classical music, and holds a degree in Sound Recording.