Mario's little brother, Luigi, has bad luck with shadows. When he's not standing in his older brother's, he's jumping at the sight of his own in haunted houses.
“Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" continues the green ghostbuster's GameCube quest on the 3DS. Over a decade has passed since the first paranormal incident, and the sequel features even more environmental variety, ghost types, and gizmos to keep gamers' favorite underdog busy.
The core of “Luigi's Mansion" remains intact. Players explore haunted mansions while inspecting items in the environment to scare up money, keys and ghosts.
Once a specter appears, the player stuns it with his or her flashlight and wrangles it with Luigi's fancy vacuum. Sucking up ghosts and unlocking doors lets you explore more of the spooky mansion.
“Dark Moon" deviates from its GameCube predecessor on multiple fronts. Instead of exploring one vast mansion, Luigi and Professor E. Gadd manage things from the safety of their bunker.
Gameplay is segmented into a series of missions, making the portable title better suited for shorter play sessions. E. Gadd can even warp Luigi to a mansion remotely. I saw five spots on the world map, though the final number is unconfirmed.
The first mansion I visit is Gloomy Manor. After acquainting myself with the basics, I tackle a number of quests, oftentimes being introduced a new gameplay mechanic along the way. Luigi can now charge his flashlight to unleash a wide beam burst, stunning more ghosts at once.
He can also unlock special passages by acquiring specific light bulbs and scan for hidden doors and other anomalies with another.
My favorite new ghost-busting mechanic involves the cleansing power of fire. Several missions task Luigi with clearing the mansion of pesky spiders and their unsightly cobwebs.
Smaller webs can be sucked up with the vacuum, but larger ones must be burned.
Luigi can suck up large spider eggs, light them on fire with candles in the environment, and then set doorway-blocking webs ablaze.
Gloomy Manor concludes with a clever, multistage boss battle against a huge possessed spider. This satisfying fight forces players to put all their new skills to the test in classic Nintendo fashion.
I also got a glimpse of the second mansion, Haunted Towers. This second phantom-infested estate is overgrown with carnivorous plants and greedy flowers that drop their goodies after a full flashlight charge.
A group of ghosts carrying shovels attack Luigi in a greenroom, blocking their eyes from his flashlight with the gardening tool.
Two hungry flytrap-like plants require the timid hero to clear the way with only his vacuum and some prickly fruit. The first mission concludes with Luigi putting his plumbing skills to work by reactivating a hydroelectric generator, but an obese ghost creaks its way down the pipes before Luigi can reunite with E. Gadd.
The ghost-capturing gameplay works well on the hardware and the colorful graphics look sharp on the 3DS' screen. “Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" is shaping up to be a charming reason to own a 3DS.