For years Luigi has had to play second fiddle to his brother until 2001 when Nintendo released Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube and gave him his own game. Not only that, but rather poetically he had to embark on his own adventure to rescue his brother Mario. Since then, Luigi has been nothing more than a support act – playing football, golf and racing in karts but never again has he had a chance to stand on his own two feet. Until now.
So here we are now – the year is 2013, and it has been twelve years since we last saw Luigi come out of his brother’s shadow. Next Level Games, the developers of Punch-Out!! Wii, have been the ones tasked with bringing Luigi back into the frame and they’ve done it extremely well.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 tasks Luigi (once again) with hunting ghosts around decrepit mansions (somewhat unwillingly) at the request of Professor E. Gadd. The good professor is locked away in his bunker after the “Dark Moon” falls and shatters into pieces. This is problematic because the Dark Moon keeps the ghost population of Evershade Valley in check – and removing the Dark Moon has sent the ghosts back into their evil ways, even pouring a mysterious fog over the valley. Of course, it’s Luigi’s job to find the fragments of the Dark Moon and return Evershade Valley to its former (safer) glory.
The core of Luigi’s Mansion 2 is much the same as the original. Clear out the ghosts in the mansions, solve the puzzles related to the problems plaguing them and collect the pieces of the Dark Moon to restore order. E Gadd’s Poltergust 5000 is back to help Luigi clean up things up and this time it’s got a few new tricks up its hose.
Much like the original game, Luigi’s Poltergust 5000 and/or torch can interact with almost everything in the game world. The vacuum can suck, blow or attach to most objects in the mansions. The torch is used to stun ghosts and activate switches throughout the game. The Dark Light torch, on the other hand, reveals hidden parts of the environments – more often than not revealing answers or solutions to puzzles or even a hidden doorway.
The controls for the Poltergust have be altered somewhat due the Nintendo 3DS only having one analogue stick. On the GameCube game, there was the benefit of being able to move Luigi with one stick and move the Poltergust on the other. Now everything is on the one stick and at times it can be a little trouble as you’ll need to disengage the Poltergust to turn around. The gyroscopic controls are used to move the vacuum up or down; luckily you can use buttons to do this too as moving the screen will break the brilliant 3D effect.
The Poltergust is also able to be charged now – the more it’s charged while sucking up ghosts, the faster their HP will drain. The Poltergust 5000 is also upgradeable along the way by collecting money and treasure throughout the levels so you’ll want to make sure you collect as much as possible. Don’t die either, because you’ll be sent right back to the beginning of a level with all your spoils removed.
The tug of war battles with ghosts are a joy – being able stun a ghost and fight with it is just plain fun. You’ll soon figure out the best way to tackle multiple ghosts and you’ll have to make sure you survive.
In terms of structure – there are five mansions in Luigi’s Mansion and Luigi owns none of them himself this time around. For each of the mansions there are a number of missions you’ll be sent on, returning to the sanctuary of the bunker at the end of each. Each mission varies in terms of length but you never feel like these missions are too long nor do you feel short changed by them either. It does feel different to be pulled away from the tension of the mansions after completing objectives without controlling when you return though. This can be a little jarring but being a portable game, it’s understandable why they chose to go this way. Each mission feels like it serves a purpose, there is little filler here.
All throughout the ghost filled mansions you’ll be using the Poltergust 5000 to sweep and suck ghosts, curtains, ceiling fans and carpet. There are coins, money notes and gold bars hidden everywhere – rare hidden gems can also be found in places you might not think to explore on first glance too. Boos also appear randomly and are hidden throughout the levels. You will never collect everything on the first run through and on the second attempt you’ll have the chance to better your finishing rank by collecting treasure, lowering your completion time and taking less damage.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 also welcomes multiplayer to the fray – both local and online. The Thrill Tower mode is unlocked by playing up to a certain point in the game (which is annoying) but allows up to four differently coloured Luigis to work together through randomised levels of a haunted skyscraper. Hunter mode is basic – the players search for ghosts on a floor together before proceeding to the next floor. Rush mode allows players to rush (yes, we know) to the exit hatch of a floor while defeating ghosts to buy more time to search. It’s simple and strategic but works well. Polterpup mode has you all chasing Polterpups throughout the level.
The multiplayer modes all play the same online or offline and offer a nice side diversion to the main storyline but by no means are they essential. We encountered a lot of drop-outs mid-game which resulted in us having to approach levels by ourselves, which quite frankly, is boring. Other players on our team had some luck following the game’s proper release and could finish levels without a hitch – so your mileage may vary. Voice chat would be great for communication, but is unfortunately omitted.
The games visual presentation is top notch. The game contains a feeling of warmth that’s been lacking in some of Nintendo’s latest games. It’s not just the environmental detail itself, but the animation of Luigi, the ghosts and the mansion contents themselves that give the game character. Each of the mansions is unique and wonderful with all of them having their own unique feeling to them. The user interface is potentially the only low point here – it feels rather bland in comparison with everything else on offer here. The 3D effect brings a diorama like quality to the game, bringing the immaculately detailed mansions to life.
The games soundtrack helps paint a complete picture. The spooky themes, Luigi humming along nervously while he reluctantly explores the mansion does a great job at pulling the player into the atmosphere. Just wait until a familiar character shows up about half way through the game, although no words are spoken the subtleness in Charles Martinet’s performance here speaks louder than actual words. For once when playing the game I’m not hearing Charles but I feel connected to Luigi as a character. Luigi also has a Dual Screen – think of it as a replacement for the Game Boy Horror from the original game. E Gadd does love to talk (a little bit too much, actually) but the ringtone for it is absolutely amazing – many fans will grin when they hear it pop up throughout the game.
It’s quite hard to believe that it took Nintendo ten years to create a proper sequel to Luigi’s Mansion. Even then, they didn’t do it all by themselves either. The team at Next Level Games have managed to craft something that feels like it came out of Nintendo’s EAD developer house, but it didn’t.
A stunning game – not only in visuals but also in gameplay and flow. Luigi is the star here – he’s the heart and soul of a game filled with ghosts. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is the antithesis to every other Mario title that’s been released in recent history. Let us hope we don’t have to wait ten more years for some more time with Luigi.