by Brian Robbins

It’s easy to see why 2013 is Luigi’s year when it brings games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS. I was certainly excited to finally get my hands on the game and play through it. Poor Luigi has always ridden on the coattails of his more successful older brother Mario, but with this title we almost forget that Mario even exists at all. With a great and entertaining single player portion and a more than adequate multiplayer, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a must-own for any 3DS owner.

The last time we had a Luigi’s Mansion game, it was way back at the launch of the Nintendo Gamecube in late 2001. It was incredibly unique to have a Mario brother not running and smashing on goombas for a change. The setting took place in a very spooky haunted mansion and it was Luigi’s task to get rid of all the ghouls. It’s one of my favorite games of all time and I’m happy they made a sequel.

The main story begins when pieces of the Dark Moon are scattered around Evershade Valley and it’s poor Luigi’s mission to retrieve them. He’s promptly teleported by the appropriately named Professor E. Gadd. The professor will digitize Luigi to various parts of the map and give him quests to find the pieces to restore order to the area. As you progress Luigi will have to encounter 5 different areas with increasingly dangerous spectral beings and there are various Mario franchise character cameos along the way. It’s definitely not a Cohen brother’s plot but it does have a few twists and turns.

 Those who played the original Gamecube smash hit will feel right at home with the gameplay. In the very first mission you’ll receive the now famous Poltergeist 5000, aka a weird vacuum cleaner. With this device you’ll capture ghosts, sort of like in the movie Ghostbusters. By simply holding down the R button on the 3DS you can suck up the spectral beings along with various items in the rooms you explore.

That’s one of the main features in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon: exploration and discovery. The game rewards those who take the time to suck everything up with the Poltergeist 5000. You can discover various things like coins, or even the special ghosts types well known as Boos. They’re hidden throughout the campaign and surprisingly all have varied personalities.

You won’t just have the vacuum cleaner at your disposal, you’ll also get a flashlight very early on. This acts almost like a flash bang, where you can stun the ghosts making them easier to capture. There’s also a special light you’ll receive in the first couple of hours of the game called the Dark-Light device, that you can point at the world discovering hidden secrets like important puzzle solutions. I just wish Luigi had access to more tools and maybe a little bit more customization on what he would carry into missions. After a while the tools felt bland, especially since you acquire them so early in the game.

That being said, the majority of gameplay centers on catching ghosts, and solving puzzles. It doesn’t really veer off from the main aspects of the Gamecube hit. Which in some ways is respectful to the original but also doesn’t add anything to make the game its own as a sequel. At the end of most of the five areas, you’ll of course square off against bosses. These fights test your reflexes along with all your skills as a ghost hunter. They were extremely fun but also uneven. Some of the bosses were incredibly easy and some were rather difficult.

There’s a lot that stayed the same between the two Luigi’s Mansions but what they did add was a multiplayer segment. Like most Nintendo games, the online modes aren’t anything to replay over and over again. You’ll team up with other Luigis as you fight ghosts while progressing through the mansion floors. It was an added feature but I grew bored after just a few runs. You won’t be spending a whole lot of time here.

 Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a great game. Even though it doesn’t really add anything other than a new single player portion and a tacked-on multiplayer I’m still glad I experienced it. After this year, Luigi is slowly becoming one of my favorite video game characters. They added so much to his personality and the game was genuinely funny. Luigi doesn’t want to be there but with this great Nintendo game, you most definitely will want to extend your stay at the mansion. Fulfill all of your various Luigi and Nintendo-related needs at your local Slackers: Luigi plushies and collectible figures, wallets and lanyards, and of course, Luigi’s Mansion:Dark Moon and New Super Luigi U for the Wii U!