'Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon' Review Round-Up

By Trevor Ruben , Updated Mar 21, 2013 09:08 PM EDT
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The Year of Luigi is off to a fantastically good start, reviewers agree, as the "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" reviews roll on out. Positive consensus on the game is largely universal, with praise coming in for all aspects of the game, but of course no game is perfect, and it's in the mission structure and multiplayer modes that some reviewers have found missteps in Luigi's sequel.

The game itself feature's Mario's tepid brother, once again tip-toeing his way through the dark corridors of lively and active environments at the beck and call of Professor E. Gadd. This time around Gadd sends him through five distinct "mansions" instead of one.

Like his brother, Luigi's reasons for his adventure are put aside in favor of a pure gameplay experience. In this case that experience involves hunting down of ghosts with his Poltergust vacuum, stunning with his flashlight and finishing them off in a ride-the-bull power struggle of ghost versus machine. Otherwise, players are scouring the environments for objectives and collectibles. 

The Star and the Setting

"The first thing you'll notice is how pretty Dark Moon looks on the 3DS-and how well it takes advantage of the system's one-of-a-kind aspects," writes Ray Carsillo of EGM. "The gloom and doom of a haunted valley doesn't usually afford the most vibrant color scheme, but this just makes the bright green of Luigi's clothes and the rainbow array of colors that represents your ghastly foes pop even more on the tiny screen. Also, the lighting effects are superb; entire rooms flash when lightning strikes, and blowing out candles with the Poltergust can completely change the ambiance of any given area. Dark Moon also takes full advantage of the system's 3D capabilities by having several puzzles play off the depth perception created by the top screen. As for the bottom screen, a Zelda-like map and list of objectives are displayed to help keep Luigi on point through this 10 to 15-hour adventure."

Alright, sorry about the length of that insert, but Carsillo really does a good job of saying a lot of things needed said. Perhaps the only thing more than the popping, inviting environments, from a visual standpoint, is Luigi himself, who proves a humorous and enticing star player.

"Luigi, so often the lesser appreciated Mario brother, is a star," writes Tom Hoggins of The Telegraph. "Luigi tip-toes through the fusty wrecks in a constant state of terror, tripping through doors, nervously humming along to the game's infectious score. That Luigi barely strings two sentences together is a testament to the animation work Next Level has done here, connecting you to the timid plumber through action and empathy. He's no wimp, sticking to the task at hand even though he's scared out of his wits."

This sentiment is echoed through nearly every review. Luigi may even have his brother beat as a central character, and the animations are to thank.

"His overblown reactions are consistently worth a chuckle. However, it's the subtler moments, like when he tries to calm his nerves by humming along to the game's background music, that deliver the biggest laughs," writes Henry Gilbert of GamesRadar.

"Combat" and Mission Structure

When Mario jumps and bounds, Luigi tip-toes and sucks... ghosts. He doesn't suck, in fact it's the odd style of combat Luigi engages in that gives "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" a unique feel, and while some reviewers couldn't get enough of it. Hoggins writes:

"Wrangling the ghosts is great fun, with them dragging you around the room in a swirl of dust, crashing into furniture as they try to escape the vacuum. It works because there's a real sense of weight to the struggle, the ghosts giving off enough resistance to make it feel like a fight"

...though some reviewers found it wasn't quite suited to the 3DS's limited controls...

"'Dark Moon' is just another entry on the ever-growing list of 3DS titles that could benefit from the use of a second analog stick, as you can't easily turn Luigi in one direction while moving in another. And it grows more frustrating, as you face tougher and tougher ghosts-and the pull against them is what allows you to suck them into the Poltergust," writes Carsillo.

Control issues aside, the mission structure split some reviewers as well, and it comes down to how one approaches the experience and what his or her expectations are in terms of combat/exploration balance.

 "This (much longer) sequel is re-tooled as a puzzler, Luigi using his vacuum to manipulate the environment; sucking in switches to yank open secret passages, blowing on cranks to operate mechanical contraptions," writes Hoggins.

Hoggins seemed to revel in the exploration and objective-based gameplay as a common supplement to the combat, though Joystiq's reviewer found the game started to drag near the end:

"Unfortunately, as entertaining as it is to wrangle ghosts and explore Dark Moon's creepy environments, the game's mission structure begins to drag after a while," writes Richard Mitchell. "The mission structure makes sense for a portable game, splitting it into discrete chunks that can each be played in 30 minutes or so, but it also leads to repetition. You retread the same corridors and rooms over and over again"

Multiplayer

Again, enjoying certain aspects of any game is about expectations and preferences. Some don't care much for added-on multiplayer, while others love to dive on in. It seems that's the case with "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon," making the "Scarescraper" multiplayer modes a love-it or hate-it affair. The cooperative mode throws up to four online or local players into a hotel-sized mansion, climbing floors as they complete timed objectives together.

"The well-executed ghost-catching mechanics translate wonderfully to a cooperative environment. In the basic "Hunter" mode, players exercise the skills they've learned in the main campaign to slay ghosts, and occasionally super difficult bosses, in tandem. The basic Structure of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is surprisingly well suited to cooperatively capturing ghosts while supporting and reviving teammates," so says Griffin McElroy of Polygon

Mr. Gilbert didn't seem to care all that much whether it worked or not:

"Then there's the fairly basic multiplayer, which is worth a try if you can get up to four 3DS owners in the same room, but it's a mostly forgettable."

All-in-all...

For every one negative comment in this article, there are probably about a dozen positive comments to negate it, save the multiplayer modes, which comes down to whether you really want to dive in. Everyone loves Luigi, everyone loves the environments and the atmosphere, and most got along quite well with the structure and combat of the games.

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