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Review: Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon
There are so many things to say about this game, but I’ll try not to go into too much detail. Before going into my thoughts, I’d like to set the stage on the story. As Luigi, you’re just minding your own business while enjoying late night TV. The peace is not to last as you’re dragged away to help Professor E. Gadd round up the broken pieces of the Dark Moon, which keeps the ghosts in the area friendly, that were scattered across the region. Now that the Dark Moon is no longer in the sky, the ghosts have turned into their usual mischief maker selves. Poor Luigi has been voluntold to find the pieces using a very interesting vacuum cleaner turned ghost capture device.
The most enjoyable part is where levels can suck you into the game in short increments. Each region hosts several levels in a Super Mario World type format. The first region, Gloomy Manor, is world A and each stage gets a title and number so A-1, A-2, etc. For the most part I was averaging 10-25 minutes per level depending on the difficulty of the puzzles. Of course, in the first region there were much longer ones as I got adjusted to the style of the puzzles.
That is probably my biggest issue with this game. The first region is where you learn the basics of all the tools available to you. While you get a basic explanation, there’s no real tutorial. So there were areas where I got stuck and levels that took me multiple tries and over 30 minutes. You unlock a new region by defeating a boss of that one and collecting the Dark Moon piece that they were harboring.
Most of the time, I enjoyed the save style. Basically the game saves after every completed level; perfect for tracking your progress. The downside is that if you get stuck or just want to come back later you can’t. You’ll have to start the whole level all over again. This style does have its advantages so you don’t have to start over, anyways, after forgetting where you were in a puzzle. On the other hand it also makes it difficult if you get stuck on a level and don’t want to play the whole thing all over again.
As a rule, I generally don’t put as much time into those games where replays just give you a better score. Yet in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, I was tempted to do just that. You get scored on each level based on ghosts captured, time taken, damage received, and money collected. The levels screen marks your best attempt with a little medallion featuring 1-3 stars and colored either in bronze, silver, or gold. I was consistently tempted to go back and do better on the levels I sucked at.
Now each level you have a specific task to complete which may occur in multiple stages. Some parts of this seem to drag out a bit, like they’re intentionally making it more difficult than it needs to be. Generally, I found that it extended the experience. As you complete levels in each region you’ll unlock more portions of it, but may also backtrack as you find new tools. In the first region, the Gloomy Manor, getting the Dark Light Device attachment allows you to enter a ghost dimension, back in one of the initial areas of the region, where something like a timed mini-game occurs. You’ll find these in random places across the game and they usually give you money, and sometimes even gems.
I will admit I never actually collected all of the gems in a region so I’m not quite sure what that does. I assume it’s something awesome. The same can be said for the multiplayer – I was so taken in by the single player mode that I didn’t really get to it. I do remember playing it at E3 and that was amusing, but assume my impressions and opinions are based on just SP.
Besides the first region where you’re being introduced to the game, I found the following portions of it much easier to navigate. Not to say I didn’t still get stuck on some puzzles but I was able to move forward at a much better pace once I understood the style and the tools at my control.
Before I finish I must add a list of random things that amused me: Luigi’s actions such as humming along with the creepy music (apparently forgetting he is scared), the lame Luigi victory dances, the fact that keys are the size of people. There are some hilarious instances of looking through a hole in the wall and finding ghosts in another room being silly (pillow fight!). Finding a toad! He’s like that cute pet you don’t want to actually touch you…
The locales are very different and do well to not just be a creepy haunted mansion. Yes, Pete, it is more than just a Ghost Busters look-a-like. The puzzles are a huge element and I found them quite fun, especially the Eerie Staircase. One thing that clashes with the system is the 3D portion. In game elements make lots of use of the motion and gyro sensors. While the depth of the environments and the ghosts look all kinds of neat in 3D, the need to constantly be moving the device around in play makes it hard to keep the 3D feature turned on.
Pro tip: explore areas you’ve already visited even if a level is further along and doesn’t require it. Changes to the environment and new tools means you may find all kinds of interesting things.
Amusing character reactions in Luigi
Puzzles a mix of easy and difficult
The game is pretty lengthy
It’s just fun, especially with headphones to block ambient noise
No real tutorials – lots of “figure it out yourself”
Game looks good with 3D but game mechanics make it hard to use regularly
The Final Word
While there are a few little things that I didn’t classify because depending on your playing preferences they may be good or bad (like backtracking), overall this game is well worth the cost. You get to play in multiple regions with several levels in each. The game throws different puzzles at you so it’s not the exact same thing over and over again. Enemy variations aren’t as numerous, but do occur and you’ll find the battle just about as fun as the puzzles. You can play in small increments of a level (or two) or blast through whole regions. The game is just fun to play. It says something that I become so involved at one point that I didn’t even realize my 3DS battery was nearly dead.