The last time Luigi starred in a Nintendo game was back in 2001’s Luigi’s Mansion, which was made for the ancient GameCube. Mario’s cool twin brother really deserves more starring roles. The GameCube offering was good, but the recently released Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is even better.
|LUIGI’S MANSION: DARK MOON
(Nintendo for 3DS)
Replay Value: 9.5
Overall Score: 8.9
Pros: Wonderful game design. Super-nice graphics. Varied online multiplayer rocks.
Cons: Insanely hard at times. You can’t save when you want. Story needs more depth.
LUIGI: BRAVE HERO
Why root for Luigi? He’s the underdog, and face it: Mario is a little overexposed. But the reason I liked Luigi in Dark Moon is that although he gets mocked by his mentor and he’s scared to enter each haunted mansion, he does it.
Luigi fights through his fears and eventually becomes the hero — even though he doesn’t know he’ll be a hero. That’s courage everyone can aspire to in real life.
At the beginning of this artful 3DS game, Luigi meets the wild-eyed, bespectacled Professor E. Gadd. He says that you need to find all the pieces of the Dark Moon to stop the ghosts from taking over with their mischievous haunting.
The nutty professor gives Luigi a vacuum cleaner-like device called the Poltergust 5000. This fun and upgradeable weapon sucks up almost everything in its path, including ghosts big and small.
Using the Poltergust takes some getting used to. To get a ghost, you have to aim the Poltergust at them. This isn’t that intuitive because it involved tilting the 3DS in the direction of the thing you want to eliminate.
Then you switch on a bright light to blind your enemy. You grab them and pull them toward you with the circle pad. They’ll fight like crazy, but they’ll lose steam eventually. Then capture them by pressing the A button. It takes an hour or two to get used to all this, but then you’re a pro.
As, you use the Poltergust 5000, you’ll also admire the game’s creepy graphics. Dark Moon is one great Halloween-like jaunt in 3D. Red spiders come out of vases. Bats fly into rooms through window cracks. Red-eyed mice creep along the floor. And they’ll all take a bite of your health — if you don’t suck them up first.
EVERYTHING IS GAME
While Dark Moon is one of the better 3DS games, this is not an easy game, especially if you want to find everything in a level. Really, the only way to do this is to examine everything every inch of the way. You’ll lift rugs, suck up ancient wallpaper, even gaze into mirrors to find the reflection of a gem tucked secretly in a corner of a windowsill.
The weird thing is, it doesn’t get old. The puzzles are pretty compelling: How exactly do you get inside that aquarium early on to get the goodies? Believe me, it takes some serious thinking.
The variety of ghosts is good, although some repeat as more powerful ghosts — the Greenie becomes the Strong Greenie, for instance. Watch out for the Polterpup. The nasty little dog will steal your stuff, like the valuable gold bone you found.
Sometimes you have to defeat a team of three strong ghosts to move forward. It’s hard because they spew goo that diminishes your health. Treacherous Mansion, the last level, is the most difficult. The paranormal readings there, E. Gadd tells Luigi, are going bonkers.
In certain areas of the mansions, you have to use the 3DS to balance yourself on beams. There’s too much of this. These balancing portions were the only times that I found the game to be less than fun.
But the most maddening part of this ghost-wrangling game is the lack of automatic saves during a level. Mid-level saves don’t happen automatically. And you can’t force the game to save, either. Yes, the dog bone you may have found will revive you if you die. If you haven’t found it and the ghosts get you, you have to start the level all over again. That’s a waste of time.
MULTIPLAYER AND RUSH MODES
Dark Moon also sports a challenging online multiplayer component, a feature you don’t often see in kids’ games. Check out the ScareScraper multiplayer portion after you complete mission A-4 in the game.
You can certainly take on ScareScraper alone. But it’s more fulfilling and less frustrating with some help from your pals. Up to four can ascend floor by floor in an effort to get to the top and beat the big boss called The Brain. At a whopping 300 health points, he has more health than most ghosts.
And there are other ways to play, too. Rush Mode, for instance, asks you to move through each floor before time elapses. You’ll get bonus items and upgrades, too, like Dark-Light Goggles, which let you see things that are invisible to Luigi’s naked eye.
It’s nicely made games like Dark Moon that make you happy you own a 3DS. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of Luigi as the star of the show now that his ghostly game is a real hit.