Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – Review | Ogre Jungle

luigi's mansion 2 box art

Developer: Next Level Games

Publisher: Nintendo

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Release Date: (NA: March 24th, 2013) (EU & AU: March 28th, 2013)

Genre: Action-Adventure

Players: (Third-person view) Single-player, Multiplayer

Ratings:  (ESRB: E) (PEGI: 7) (ACB: G)


After 12 years of waiting for a sequel to 2001’s Luigi’s Mansion for the Nintendo GameCube, fans have finally been granted their wish. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Or Luigi’s Mansion 2 over in Japan) is a Nintendo 3DS title that has Luigi once again dragged against paranormal foes with nothing but a flashlight and vacuum strapped to his back.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon follows the concepts of the original very heavily while still adding a large amount of new content to the series. Players are also welcomed to a few familiar faces as they battle the undead hordes. A key character that makes a welcomed comeback is the zany professor, E. Gadd, who assists Luigi from his underground bunker.

With the help of Professor E. Gadd’s inventions and Luigi’s… (bravery?) you must traverse multiple haunted mansions and collect the pieces of the shattered Dark Moon. Be prepared for a number of challenging battles and even more challenging puzzles.

Official Game Summary:

Guide clumsy Luigi through massive ghost-infested mansions on an action-packed hunt for the pieces of the Dark Moon. Armed with the ghost-sucking Poltergust 5000 and other new gadgets, you’ll have to capture ghosts, solve puzzles, and battle monster-sized bosses. Can you and Luigi build up the courage to save the day?

Story:  A+

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a charming story to say the least. Much like its predecessor, Dark Moon relies heavily on Luigi being alone in a haunted mansion with little to no conversations with anyone else. Occasionally the game is interrupted by Prof. E. Gadd contacting Luigi on his Dual Scream (Funny little upgrade to the Game Boy Horror) and updating him on his current objective.

The game does a great job at pushing its story forward and an even better job at the random humor injected into the dialogue, cutscenes, and environment. Prof. E. Gadd always has some sort of witty remark to make and Luigi’s reactions throughout the game are priceless. Luigi’s personality really shines throughout the game and it definitely shows that what he has above Mario is character depth. While his brother is just a mindless jumping hero, Luigi shows that he is more of an average Joe. Even though he is obviously terrified, he continues forward because he is the only one who can get the job done. (Which is why Luigi is awesome!)

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has a very well made opening that perfectly explains the situation and an insanely charming ending that gives you a nice bubbly feeling. The plot’s advancement is very well paced and enjoyable as well. I personally have found no faults with the game’s story and actually enjoy it very much.

Luigi's Mansion 2 screenshotGraphics:  A+

The developers for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon completely outdid themselves with the game’s graphics. More specifically, the 3D and lighting are perfect. This is the first title in my 3DS library that I have voluntarily chosen to turn the 3D on without a forced incentive. The increase in-depth not only helps with the gameplay but it also makes the game look downright amazing. Mix this with the spectacular lighting that you can easily see while using your flashlight, and you have a very pretty game.

The game itself is also exceptionally detailed alongside its gorgeous cutscenes, and I have yet to find any sort of graphic issues of any kind. It is not very often that you see such a polished game like this on a handheld, let alone in 3D.

Sound:  A+

I cannot count how many times I have caught myself mindlessly humming the songs from Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Most of the time it seems to be when I am not anywhere near my 3DS, and that is how I know that I thoroughly enjoy the game’s music. The soundtrack for the game is even higher quality than the first game, which had amazing sound as well. The main tune in both games is definitely their sweet spots in the sound department.

Alongside the great music is the equally great sound effects. Everything from the Poltergust 5000’s suction noise to the giggling of a ghost about to scare Luigi perfectly fits into the game. Dark Moon’s memorable music tracks and great choice of sound effects only increase the game’s value.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon screenshot #2Gameplay: B+

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is stocked full of gameplay goodness. With multiple haunted locations to do your ghost busting, a nice number of boss ghosts to battle, puzzles that present a pretty nice challenge, tons of collectibles expertly hidden throughout the game, and finely crafted multiplayer stages, you are not going to run out of things to do. Gameplay is one aspect of the game that Nintendo always does best and Dark Moon is no exception.

Unfortunately, like most games, it does have a number of weak points. Namely with a few of the big boss battles. (I’ll attempt to withhold Spoilers) One of these bosses, the ice level for those wondering, requires you to use a gameplay mechanic that you are never formally introduced to, and it is actually this very difficult gimmick that gave me my first five deaths in the game back to back. It really would have been forgivable if for the fact that you never use that gameplay mechanic ever again, and this is definitely not the only boss that will get your blood burning.

There is also an issue with the difficulty setting throughout the game. I found that Dark Moon’s difficulty does not raise as you move deeper into the game, but rather it is similar to a roller coaster. You will have a number of segments that increase in difficulty and then suddenly drop down to beginner level. The easily defeated second boss in the game is a prime example of this when you compare him to the challenging first boss of the game. I really felt let down when I managed to beat boss #2 in less that 2 minutes.

If you look past the few boss battle issues and focus on the creative level design and fun game mechanics, Dark Moon is very well made in the gameplay department. Hunting down ghosts with the Poltergust 5000 always feels rewarding.

Controls:  B+

If there is one pet peeve that I have with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon it has to be with the controls. While the developers did a great job shoving so many abilities into so few button options, they never got the attack controls down perfectly.

When Luigi uses either his Poltergust 5000 suction/exhaust attack, or either of his flashlight skills, he is able to aim them up and down.  However, a major flaw with these controls is that Luigi is unable to change the direction he is pointing while using these skills. This means that you have to continually turn your attacks off and on if you need to quickly change to different directions. This is a huge issue with the controls since many ghosts purposely attack Luigi from the back while he is focused on another enemy, which leads to undeserved damage. I know they had very few buttons to utilize on the 3DS but this really should have been fixed.

Other than the attack issue, Luigi walks and runs around quite smoothly. Having the exhaust and suction abilities set to different shoulder buttons also makes the Poltergust 5000 pretty simple to use along with the A and Y buttons controlling the flashlight/strobe light and dark light. The X and B buttons will allow Luigi to point his attacks up and down while being used. The X button is also used to interact with the environment. (The D-pad makes Luigi perform his trademark yells)

All in all, it is a pretty nice control scheme, but the lack of changing attack directions kills it in many situations.

Enjoyment Level: A

Luigi's Mansion 2 official art

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. The game has a good amount of content, a ton of replayability, and a very fun multiplayer experience. I have no plans on putting the game down anytime soon if that answers this Enjoyment Level question.

Two things that did slightly bother about Dark Moon was how different the atmosphere and ghost designs were from its GameCube predecessor. The first Luigi’s Mansion had our green clad hero exploring one large haunted house for the entire game, and this caused it to really have the haunted house air about it. Rather than switching between mansions with different themes, the first game had Luigi trapped within the stereotypical haunted house you would expect from a horror movie, and it worked great. The second installment of the series just seems to be missing that horror game feeling. Though it is good to see them trying to do new things with the series.

Along with the change in atmosphere, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon goes a completely different path with their ghost designs. While Dark Moon is filled with brightly colored childish spirits that have very little human appearance, even the bosses nowhere near human looking, the original Luigi’s Mansion had ghosts that resembled humans. It increased this more lifelike design by allowing players to learn about them by inspecting their rooms. This added a whole new layer of depth and enjoyment to the game that just seems to be lacking in the sequel.

I personally believe the first Luigi’s Mansion is the better of the two games but Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is an incredible game in its own right. It moved away from its predecessor and tried to take a new spin on the story by adding different gameplay elements and multiple stages. It is more than worth multiple playthroughs, and that is just what I plan on doing.

Overall Score:  A

Have you already grabbed a copy of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon? Please leave a comment with your opinion of the game down below. Thanks for reading and best of luck with the ghost hunting!


Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Jonathan Parsons

English teacher and freelance writer Jonathan Parsons is a longtime gamer working abroad in Japan. He spends his free time swimming through the Akita winter snow to his car and playing classic PC and Famicom games.

Tagged: ,