Luigi is stepping out from behind Mario’s shadow once again by starring in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. It has been 11 long years since the original was released for the Gamecube. When I first heard about a return to the franchise, I was cautiously optimistic. I do remember liking the original, but looking back I don’t remember if I really had fun or if I had Stockholm Syndrome because it was a Gamecube launch title and there weren’t a lot of options. Well, now that I’ve sat down and beat the first mansion, I’m really having a good time.
The game is everything I thought it would be. For the most part, you are exploring mansions looking for ghosts and solving puzzles. The puzzles (so far, anyways) have struck a perfect spot where they are tricky enough to keep you entertained and engaged, but not infuriating. The various ghosts are fun to fight too. For those who don’t know, Luigi basically walks around the mansion with a vacuum, Ghostbusters style. Then, when you encounter a ghost, you start an almost-fishing minigame: You have to stun it with your flashbang-like light then suck it up with your vacuum as they try to get away.
To keep it interesting, there are a variety of different ghosts and different ways to capture them, such as one who wears sunglasses that you have to suck away before you can stun it or an invisible Boo that you need to shine the dark light on first.
I also really liked how the first boss battle was handled. Instead of having a standard boss battle where you just have to deplete the boss’s health without dying, the boss battle was another one of the game’s puzzles. There was some thinking involved because you have to solve a couple of things throughout the battle room. But, unlike simply solving a normal puzzle, this one was made more exciting by having a big enemy trying to kill you the whole time.
The story in the game isn’t great so far, but definitely better than most Mario games. There is a magical moon called the Dark Moon that somehow makes ghosts be nice. Then King Boo comes and shatters it. This causes the ghosts to become evil, so Professor E. Gadd summons Luigi to once again man the Poltergust 5000 to capture the ghosts and reassemble the Dark Moon. Where the writing excels is in Luigi himself. His dialog (mainly scared little gulps, actually) is very well-acted and well-placed. I’ll be honest and say there has been a chuckle or two…
I’ve only beat the first of the five mansions so far, haven’t tried any of the other modes, or gone back for collectibles There will be a full review coming up when I’m done experiencing this thing. But tentatively speaking, if you’re a Nintendo fan, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t love this thing.