This bad omen is good news

'Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon' should be a clever sequel filled with paranormal charm

Tim Turi / Game Informer Magazine /

Published Jan 18, 2013 at 04:00AM

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.

'LUIGI'S MANSION: DARK MOON'

Release date: Spring

3DS

Nintendo

ESRB rating: E for Everyone

In the news

Before the 'Bugdroid,' there was the Dandroid ...

A Google employee this week revealed some of the early versions of the Android mascot on his Google+ account, giving users a peek at what could have been.

Dan Morrill, an Android engineer, revealed that at one point in 2007 he and the Android team were getting ready to present Android to other Google employees. The Android team wanted other Google employees to start playing with the software and giving them feedback.

“I had no eye candy for the slides we were putting together,” Morrill said. “Hence these guys.”

Morrill is referring to pictures at the bottom of his post of four robots in the colors of Google with swirly eyes and cone heads.

The engineer said he believes that his drawings were the first proposed Android mascots, and gained a little bit of popularity with the team, who dubbed the bots “Dandroids.” Morrill's mascots stuck around for a bit until the “bugdroid” mascot that would become the official face of Android.

“I figured I'd share them so you can experience a thrill of terror at what might have been,” he said.

— Salvador Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

Top 10

Handheld games

The editors of Game Informer Magazine rank the top handheld games for the month of January:

1. “Sound Shapes” (Vita)

2. “Paper Mario: Sticker Star” (3DS)

3. “LittleBigPlanet PS Vita” (Vita)

4. “Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward” (Vita)

5. “Crashmo” (3DS)

6. “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” (3DS)

7. “New Super Mario Bros. 2” (3DS)

8. “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance” (3DS)

9. “Assassin's Creed: Liberation” (Vita)

10. “Pokemon Black & White 2” (DS)

Game Informer Magazine