A lot of people forget that the original Luigi’s Mansion on Gamecube wasn’t heralded as a premiere Nintendo experience when it first came out. Many knocked it for being too short and repetitive, which caused me to avoid it completely. Despite that, the game’s legacy grew with time to the point where we now have Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS more than a decade later. Was it worth the wait?
This time around, Luigi and Professor E. Gadd must retrieve the broken fragments of the Dark Moon. Without it, the ghosts of Evershade Valley will continue to uncontrollably run amuck. This adventure will take you across a number of different locations, unlike the original, which took place in one big mansion. Each location has a number of different missions, which you must complete in sequence.
As you traverse each location, you’ll run into a number of encounters with ghosts, which you must suck into your Poltergust 3000. While the combat may not feel as fresh to someone whose played the original, I came into it as a newcomer enjoying it quite a bit. The gameplay mechanic of stunning ghosts with your flashlight and sucking them in with the vacuum starts out simple enough, but the game smartly builds on that idea throughout with intelligent enemy designs that make you use it in different and clever ways. This is far from a twitch game, but the mix of action and problem-solving is engaging throughout.
Gathering the pieces and capturing the ghosts won’t be easy, as each of the areas is in disarray. You’ll be frequently challenged to find the switch, pull the lever, or solve the puzzle inherent to any given room in order to proceed. While most of these puzzles are also clever in nature, the game doesn’t have any sort of hint system if you get stuck. I got stuck a lot – especially early on as I was coming to grips with everything – and many of my play sessions ended with me wandering aimlessly until I turned off my 3DS. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible at spatial puzzles, but this isn’t the type of game that should just leave you hanging.
Over time, I would get a better grasp of what the game was looking for and getting stuck happened less frequently. Also, having a guide handy helps, even if it’s a less than ideal scenario. Once you get into its rhythm, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon becomes a charming and enjoyable title that meets the high standards people expect from a Nintendo title.