This is the year of Luigi. You might not find Mario’s brother on the Chinese Zodiac but Nintendo has dubbed 2013 the year of our green clad plumber, so there. Sorry snakes, you’re out. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon hits shelves March 24 (March 28 in the EU) and is the direct follow-up to the 2001 GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion.
This time the series has found its way to handhelds in the form of the Nintendo 3DS. The portable sequel seems to have made more than a just a few enhancements to the previous formula and will arrive at a time when 3DS owners have been crying out for something worth dusting off their devices for. The added dimension should help create a suitably jumpy immersive atmosphere for Luigi’s spooky quest.
It’s been 12 years since the first game but the action continues where the previous title left off. That said, newcomers needn’t have played the first game to get this one. Luigi’s ghost expert acquaintance, Professor E. Gadd, has discovered the Dark Moon that hangs over EverShade valley is creating a calming mood for the ghosts that haunt the location.
Once again, Luigi will step into the darkness with his handy torch and an upgraded version of his trusty vacuum, The Poltergust 5000. Attacks involve stunning the ghoulish enemies with the Strobulb before finishing them off by swallowing them up into the vac, Ghostbusters style. As the fiendish foes struggle away, players will have to reel them in while their health points diminish. It is almost as if Luigi is doing a spot of ghost-fishing.
As the ghouls must be stunned for Luigi to stand a chance at capturing them, they have cunningly decided to do something about it. Yes, the ghosts may be brain dead but it doesn’t mean they don’t know how to block the StroBulb with a well utilised dinner tray or a pair of sunglasses. They can also counter missed attacks with a useful shovel or rolling pin. That isn’t all the player will have to look out for however, as hidden ghosts can sneak up on Luigi. The more viscous ghosts can even engulf or swallow up our hero.
The Poltergust is also equipped with a Dark-Light device. Shining this feature onto certain areas will uncover hidden items, paths and objects that are otherwise invisible. Players can now suck in many other objects and interact with scenery. For example, the Poltergust can swallow up whole kitchen worktops of pots and pans, destroy paths of giant cobwebs and easily scoop a set of curtains from their rails. Using the vacuum in this way will help uncover hidden objects and clues. Luigi can also suck up certain objects to bellow them away as projectile weapons and even fill a balloon with air to lift him upwards to higher levels. Using all the Poltergust’s abilities and features will be crucial to progressing through each area.
The game also contains a variety of ghouls to tangle with along the way. Luigi will encounter standard Greenies, hard-hitting Slammers, pesky Poltergeists, hard to find Hiders, ginormous Gobbers and many others. There will also be bosses and plenty of haunted objects to battle. Luigi will also be getting a hard time from bothersome Boos and the malicious King Boo throughout the game.
Making an entrance this time is the Polterpup. Not your usual Nintendog, this canine spook leaves paw prints for Luigi to follow with the Dark-light device and will hassle our hero for anything gold. Polterpups seem to make reoccurring appearances but not all popping up cast members are troublesome. Toads make an appearance too. Mario and Luigi’s familiar friends have been helping the Professor and will rely on their mustachioed torch-bearer to help them out of a jam or two, or five.
The game’s impressive-looking multiplayer mode ensures players won’t just be bumbling around in the dark of the main single-player story. In this mode, up to four players can tackle the Scarescraper. Players ascend each floor of the tower block wiping out waves of ghosts as they go face-to-face in a battle royale. There are also races where players will rush against each other towards a hidden exit, and a Polterpup challenge that sees combatants tussle to catch the wayward pups. It may be ‘all for one’ most of the time, but the Luigis will have to work together at times to take down challenges and unlock parts of the course. Multiplayer certainly seems to have that familiar Zelda: Four Swords feel about it, which is no bad thing.
In terms of how the game plays, gamers can expect the dual screens to work in different ways. The top one follows the often 2.5D perspective action while the lower touch screen will likely serve as an inventory, menu and map. With its cartoony fairground style horror and satisfying ghost-capturing style, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon looks like one of the more promising titles for the 3DS this year. The five differing settings could easily be expanded upon with downloadable extras and the game looks to get plenty of gamers, young and old, hooked this spring.
With all this fuss being made over Luigi, for once, our green garbed ghost-hunter may actually leave his brother in the dark.