Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an adventure game developed and published by Nintendo. It released on the 3DS in 2013. I played it on the 3DS in 2019.
Despite the creepy setting, Luigi’s Mansion has more in common with Metroid and Zelda than it does with survival horror. Luigi explores a ridiculously large mansion, with progression marked by learning new abilities. You solve puzzles, catch a family of ghosts, and rake in tons of cash hidden in every crevice. The first one on the Gamecube was such an odd game that it felt too good to happen again.
Until it did. And now miracle of miracles, a third one is in the pipeline!
Dark Moon makes trade-offs with its first iteration, both for better and for worse. It certainly offers plenty of new features to enjoy, but it also poses new problems of its own.
Let’s start with the improvements. Instead of just one mansion, Dark Moon includes five different environments to explore. It widens the game’s scope and makes an impressive amount of variety (I particularly loved the clock factory and the frozen mine shaft). Each room is more detailed than the first game as well; with the 3D effect turned on, they look like intricate dioramas. If anyone needed a justification for the 3DS’s gimmick, look no further than Dark Moon. It enhanced the experience to the degree that I feel sorry for anyone that played it in 2D.
The difficulty was also ramped up a bit. There were a wider variety of ghost types, each with their own strategy to defeat. Putting different types together made me continually change my approach. I pushed the 3DS’s circle pad to its limit with dodging their attacks and getting the right angle to suck up as many ghosts as possible.
Now let’s talk about my biggest problem with the game: instead of freely wandering these buildings, you’re kept on a leash with a mission system. While you’re given a little freedom to find collectibles, as soon as you complete the main objective, you’re booted back to the lab, similar to Super Mario 64‘s Power Stars. And it usually happens just as you solve a big puzzle or unlock a new area, the time when you want to go exploring the most.
Professor E. Gadd (the man sending you on these missions) is even more annoying in this game than the last one. He calls Luigi several times during a mission to explain mechanics. You know those silly movie theater PSAs about turning off your cell phone? It kind of breaks the immersion? Yeah Luigi needs to take that advice and put his DS on silent. How exactly can he make calls with it in the first place?
At the end of the day, however, I can’t help but like this little game. Luigi is so expressive — the way he holds the door for the Toads, or how he whistles and pretends he doesn’t know what E. Gadd is talking about when he says, “Someone better go and put those ghosts down!” I almost caught myself talking to Luigi, he felt that much like a living character.
It’s little details like those that make Luigi’s Mansion such an endearing series. Dark Moon is certainly a worthy successor and a great stop-gap before the Switch game releases.