Luigi’s Mansion 2 Review

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Luigi’s Mansion 2
Platform: 3DS
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher: Nintendo

The original Luigi’s Mansion was a GameCube launch title, often dismissed as a tech demo showing off the new systems graphical prowess, especially with regard to lighting and shadow effects. Others might have called it, “Mario is Missing 2: Missing at Launch”. Well to be honest, the latter I made up and the former I’ve just read occasionally. In actuality, Luigi’s Mansion was a unique, puzzle/adventure game that while short, was still entertaining and after more than ten years, it has a sequel.

After first completing Luigi’s Mansion about seven years ago, I remember thinking that while it was enjoyable, that there was nothing much that a sequel could build upon. I reiterated such sentiments recently and I’m happy to report that I was wrong because Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a great sequel that has indeed built upon what made the original enjoyable and made the formula work even better.

So what did make Luigi’s Mansion enjoyable? For me it was the initial thrill of playing something different with a familiar character. Then there were Luigi’s hilarious mannerisms as he wobbled through the mansion and shrieked with terror with every ghost sighting. There was the satisfaction that came from catching each ghost, the clever but not too difficult puzzles, the addictive coin collecting and the game looked great too. Luigi’s Mansion 2 has all this and more.

The game begins with King Boo, a character that first appeared in the original, shattering the dark moon which sends all the ghosts working with Professor E. Gadd into a frenzy. Luigi is soon contacted by E. Gadd and sucked into his television which teleports him to Evershade Valley where he is then all but forced to help collect the pieces and make everything nice again. Does any of this matter? Not really, but it is a little better than hearing that Princess Peach has been captured and certainly gives you enough incentive to keep playing.

Unlike the original, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is segmented into missions which seemed at first to be because the game is designed for a handheld, necessitating briefer play sessions. As I played it became clear, it was more for replaying the missions. Each mission is littered with multiple collectables and with Luigi able to use his new Poltergust 5000 to suck up carpets, curtains, sand and pretty much anything not nailed down in pursuit of gold, cash and other secrets. The original could be replayed to get a higher overall ending score and in Luigi’s Mansion 2, the missions can be replayed to improve your score and allow you to grab any collectables you may have missed. It also helps because Luigi’s Mansion 2 is divided into five different locations, most being mansions and all being creepy in the cutest possible way.

The gameplay largely remains the same with only a few modifications to accommodate the absence of a second analogue circle pad. The ghosts now have to be flashed with a strobe from Luigi’s torch rather than have it simply shined on them. The ghosts also now adopt some extra defences such as wearing sunglasses or wielding a sword and shield to block the strobe effects. Whether or not you’ve played the original, the controls take little getting used to, and most things you need to know, are learned in the first location. And this is one of the best things about the game; there is no trial and error, just a smooth lead in and a gradual curve in difficulty that is constantly tested right up to the satisfying finish. And for players wanting more, the game can be expanded further not only by improving your score on each mission, but also through the new multiplayer modes.

One of the most surprising additions to the game was the multiplayer mode. This includes, local, download and online options for up to four players. Unfortunately everyone plays different coloured Luigi’s but this is a small complaint. The multiplayer takes place in the Thrill Tower, Scare Scraper or the Terror Tower depending on your region. This involves a floor by floor ascent where depending on the mode, you’ll be searching for, catching or escaping ghosts and competing with other players for the best score. It is probably best played locally as there are no online chat features, only some d-pad activated pre-sets. But even online, players mostly work well together, instinctively pairing off and working through the floors. There are extra modes to unlock and the challenge can be increased through the number of floors you choose to ascend and a difficulty select, prior to beginning a game. Even without the multiplayer the game is well worth trying, so it really helps that this mode is not included just to fill up space on the back cover.

Despite high praise so far, there are aspects of the game that I find quite irritating. The missions structure is a welcome addition but the game only saves after completing a mission. Most missions are short but it is quite possible for one to go up to thirty minutes, and given this is a handheld title, it is annoying not having the option to suspend play and save within the mission. You can just shut the lid and leave it on, but the times I was in this situation would have meant leaving the 3DS on all day, and I just wanted my progress saved. It also irritating that failing a mission will mean beginning it again from the start, no matter how far you have played. Replaying missions is also not quite as smooth as it could be with the game also replaying the tedious dialogue of E. Gadd , which is made worse by his annoying Animal Crossingesque voice. While some parts are skippable, the dialogue isn’t and the game still treats replayed missions as if they are your first time going in.

Despite all this, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is easily one of the best games I’ve played on 3DS and one of the best Nintendo published titles I’ve played in years. The game balances combat and puzzle solving well, and while the mission flow is generally the same, the different locations make each one interesting. Something else that deserves a mention, is the (mostly) inventive boss fights throughout the game. Next Level Games has done a fantastic job recreating the elements of the first one and enhancing or expanding upon them to make the sequel still feel like something new. Or perhaps it has just been so long that I’ve forgotten. Either way, I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far and I’m sure I will continue to for a while.

4 Stars

April, 2013

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