According to Nintendo, 2013 is "The Year of Luigi" - although, realistically, Mario's lanky brother is still playing second fiddle in most of his upcoming exploits, including Mario Golf: World Tour and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team.
Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon is where Luigi really needs to shine if he's going to live up to his billing. And shine he does - generally in the direction of nasty ghosty things and the like.
This sequel to the GameCube original is not only essential 3DS gaming, but it's - dare I say it - the sort of game worth purchasing an entire console for. Here is undeniable proof, if any was needed, that the video game industry will always need a bit of Nintendo magic.Boo Radical
Luigi is back with his trusty Poltergust vacuum cleaner and flickering torch, as the eccentric Professor E. Gadd sends him off to explore various spooky mansions and forceably remove the other-Earthly beings from every nook and cranny.
The main course involves entering rooms, tracking down the ghosts that are hiding in the cupboards, chandeliers, and ceilings, and then flicking the switch on your hoover and sucking them up.
Battling against ghosts is still as awesome as it was the first time around. Once you've got them in your sights it's all about holding back on the stick and watching as Luigi is dragged around the room, struggling over furniture and leaping through the air every now and again to avoid attack from other ghosts.
The action feels wonderfully fluid, and always exciting. Later into the game you'll be surrounded by multiple enemies at once which you'll need to deal with strategically, and the boss battles are also clever and entertaining ordeals.
It helps that Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon is brimming with content. The main game will take you a good 15 hours to complete, and there's plenty of replay value, from finding and capturing the special Boo characters to achieving top ranks and discovering the secret puzzle areas.
The Dark Maaarioooo of the Moon
But a good portion of Luigi's Mansion 2 actually centres around solving puzzles, finding keys, and completing missions. Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon's puzzles are phenomenal at times, with some real head-scratchers that regularly take centre stage over the ghost-hunting.
You're armed with the Dark-Light device which allows you to see hidden items and invisible ghosts, and you can use your flashlight as a sort of flashbang, which has various uses. This means you're constantly mixing it up, rather than doing the same old actions over and over again.
Many of the missions have you retracing your steps through each mansion, but it rarely feels like dull backtracking, as each time you make your way through familiar territory there are subtle (and not so subtle) differences here and there.
But what really makes Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon great is its unrelenting personality. We saw glimpses of this in the original game, but Luigi's presence really comes to the fore here.
From the way that he "do do dos" along with the game's soundtrack, to the various animations he has that signify him jumping out of his skin, it's impossible not to fall in love with the game's overall mood and presentation. This is a title packed with Nintendo love, and you will find a place in your heart for it.
Be a Man, sion
Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon is very close to being the perfect Nintendo 3DS game - nay, the perfect Nintendo game - but slight niggles here and there are impossible to ignore.
For one, it desperately needs Circle Pad Pro support. This is a game screaming out for dual-stick controls, and while you can play most of the game perfectly fine, later battles become incredibly difficult to handle with the current setup.
Fortunately, by this time you've pretty much mastered the art of single-sticking the action, moving along the walls and flipping between ghosts every few seconds. But why there's no Circle Pad Pro support is anyone's guess.
The multiplayer is also a bit of a disappointment. Players band together to clear out ghosts together, both locally and online. It's not bad, but it's far too unfocused and all over the place to even touch on the brilliance of the main campaign.
But please don't let these minor issues put you off, as Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon borders on Nintendo 3DS perfection. This is the game that 3DS owners have been waiting for, and you owe it to yourself to give Luigi a chance.
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