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If there’s something strange in your 3DS, who you gonna call?

It’s been over a decade since Luigi’s last starring role, but now he’s back and better than ever.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon finds Mario’s overshadowed sibling donning his ghost-inhaling vacuum once more to restore peace to Evershade Valley. When King Boo shatters an artifact known as the Dark Moon, Luigi is called upon by the eccentric Professor E. Gad to eradicate the ghost infestations of several mansions and ultimately piece together the remnants of the Dark Moon.

The plot may be a little thin, but with gameplay this good, you really don’t need a complex storyline.

Dark Moon introduces some dramatic changes from the original Luigi’s Mansion. Instead of one mansion, Luigi must explore five haunted mansions. The game is broken down into missions, instead of one long, continuous journey. This structure breaks up the flow of the game, but at the same time it encourages players to pick up and play for brief periods of time with a clear endpoint in sight.

Luigi also has a new ghost-hunting tool in his arsenal this time around. In addition to his Poltergust 5000–his ghost-busting vacuum–Luigi now has an attachment called a Dark-Light that allows him to see through illusions and discover otherwise invisible objects. With only these two items, one might feel that gameplay would get stale, but each puzzle feels fresh and intelligently crafted.

Luigi is a lovably comedic protagonist, with his consistent feeling of dread, his bumbling demeanor, and how he is always portrayed as the reluctant hero.

Each mansion has its own visual signature and theme, as well. From a giant tree top to an ancient clock tower, each mansion is wonderfully varied and crawling with mystery and intrigue. Hidden objects like coins and helpful clues will encourage players to every inch of these intricately designed mansions. Players will also want to turn up the 3DS’s 3D slider all the way in order to feel fully immersed in the spooky, sprawling environment.

Dark Moon also adds a multiplayer mode. Up to four players can duke it out in a 25-level mansion taking on hordes of ghosts. Where the first-player mode is more concerned with exploration, the multiplayer mode is centered around sucking up as many ghosts as possible. Every fifth level of the mansion throws in a tricky, puzzle-based boss battle, so players will have to hone their ghost-busting skills if they hope to reach the top floor with their health intact. The multiplayer mode never feels forced or tacked-on. It’s a fun, creative addition to an already impressive game.

Even though the implementation of a mission-based structure diminishes the sense of immersion and exploration perfected in the original Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is still a solid game. In fact, it’s one of the most inventive Nintendo games in years. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon faultlessly combines humor, compelling gameplay and splendid animation to create one of the best 3DS games yet.

–Jarred Graham

The Broadside




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