Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Preview
Developer: Next Level Games
Release Date: TBA 2013 Genre: Action-adventure
I have a dream that gamers will one day live in a world where Luigi will not be judged by the colour of his overalls, but by the content of his character. Sadly, on the basis of what I saw at Nintendo’s booth at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, that dream has yet to come to fruition.
For you see my brothers and sisters, Luigi is being kept down by the man. Who’s the man you ask? The bigwigs at Nintendo? The man in the White House? The monsters who decided to stick one solitary 3DS in an uninviting cranny away from the public eye? No. The man is everywhere. And the man saved the princess, flew into space and rode a green dinosaur.
Back in 2001 – benefiting from the spotlight of being a GameCube launch title – Luigi finally got his chance to stick it to the man in his debut solo game, Luigi’s Mansion. But oh no, the man ruined that too by becoming the centre of attention for the entire plot!
So who could blame Luigi if he just decided to give up? Hell, I wouldn’t, because in the end he’s just going to lose. Big time.
It doesn’t matter if Luigi stars in something that’s cool, and awesome, and pure, like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon; the man’s just going to call him a skinny washed up loser and crush his soul.
The harsh reality is that only we can make a difference in sticking it to the man, because Luigi’s done his part. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is endearing, intelligent and deserves more than the bitter prospect of wandering the halls of gaming obscurity, destined to be ignored by the man loving public once again.
Glad To See Gadd
For his second solo outing, Luigi is reunited with the eccentric scientist Professor Elvin Gadd. Gadd needs Luigi’s help in clearing up not one, but numerous mansions in dire need of a domestic exorcism. Naturally, there’s only one piece of apparatus that’s fit for sucking up the ghouls and ghosts that haunt the dusty dwells of these homes from hell, the latest brainchild of the cooky codger, Gadd: the Poltergust 5000.
Unfortunately, the silly old scientist had misplaced his latest and greatest invention in the demo I sampled, so I went about guiding Luigi to recapture the suckable saviour, armed with nothing more than a communication device (cutely modeled on the Nintendo DS) and a flashlight. Without further ado, Gadd teleports Luigi to the front of the mansion using his new pixel-transporter, spewing Luigi out of a CCTV camera conveniently located within the mansion’s grounds.
Luckily, our big-nosed, gaunt ghost buster is as courageous as ever, and noticeably more animated. From his varied facial expressions, walk, and new waddling run, Luigi’s movements and exaggerated animations give the green grafter a delightfully charming quality. Watching him scurry around after a mischievous key-stealing mouse, celebrate his shiny prize after apprehending it, and shakily enter the cursed mansion, quickly creates an emotional attachment with Nintendo’s much overlooked Italian.
The impressive presentation values reinforces the loveable link you’ll find yourself forming with Luigi. The game looks stunning, with vivid colours, convincing lighting effects, detailed, decked out rooms and interactive environments all strengthening the feeling that Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a high quality product, befitting of the Nintendo brand.
But what’s new exactly? Well, there’s no denying that Luigi’s handheld outing feels like more of the same, but with enough noticeable added suction to keep things fresh – so to speak.
Luigi’s progression from room to room is a much more puzzling and thoughtful affair this time around, with enjoyable brainteasers required to find hidden keys or unlock new areas. You’ll be tasked with pulling back rugs to discover switches, hoovering up lots of shiny loot, spinning around fans to lower chandeliers, opening up drawers to discover keys and scampering after the cheeky ghosts who are determined to spook our spaghetti loving friend.
The main premise of the game is unchanged from what fans will remember from the GameCube version, with ghosts becoming stunned by the beam of Luigi’s new flashlight (a phosphor bulb is used to provide a quick debilitating flash). Once the ghosts’ hearts are revealed, it’s time to turn on the vac and capture the translucent tearaways in the Poltergust’s imprisoning cyclone of air, which is done by holding down the R shoulder button to suck (the L shoulder button blows) and tapping the A button at the appropriate moment to drain the ghosts’ stamina.
The ghosts will furiously attempt to break the binds of the Poltergust’s powerful suction stream, dragging and pulling Luigi across the room in attempt to break free. The skill comes in holding on to the bucking ghosts without being interrupted – as if you were riding a mechanical bull; just do your best to hold on tight. When you’ve got three of the floating nasties trying to shake off your Poltergust’s pull, holding on for dear life is easier said then done.
The bottom screen of the 3DS is used to display the map, with a zoom slider available should you wish to carefully view a particular area. It’s a handy, simple feature, as locked doors and objectives are available to view at a quick, convenient glance.
Due to the fact the 3DS is single-stick inclined, Luigi’s flashlight and vacuum cannot not be controlled independently, which admittedly feels a bit off putting at first (the hoover can be moved up and down using B and X to grab coins, however). Nevertheless, you won’t be cranking back on a second stick when reeling in a ghost in Dark Moon, so the adaptation period is relatively swift and you definitely won’t find yourself begrudging the 3DS’ single stick design.
How good is the 3D effect? Sadly, I was unable to get a full appreciation of the game’s 3D effect, due to my six foot frame and the console being locked to an annoyingly low column. I did attempt to improvise with a squatting stance, and the 3D that I did sample (until my back gave in) was very striking, giving the rooms and beautiful visuals a real sense of wonder and magic thanks to the added sense of depth.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon should be firmly affixed to the wish list of every 3DS owner. The game is shaping up to be as equally as compelling as a certain older brother’s latest offerings, with brilliant visuals, great gameplay and clever mechanics. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is set to be a welcomed return for Nintendo’s unregarded understudy. But let’s just hope that this time around, Luigi can finally stick it to the man.