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Review: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

by April 16, 2013

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon sums up Luigi’s string of luck.

While his brother Mario gets to go to sunny beaches and outer space Luigi gets to go to haunted houses.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon starts off after the events from the first Luigi’s Mansion. Professor E. Gadd is continuing his research with ghost and non ghost alike living contently under one roof until the Dark Moon is shattered. Without the Dark Moon all the ghosts go haywire. What was a peaceful coexistence becomes a house of horrors and there’s only one person who can save the day…

Luigi, a man who screams at fear.

Luigi, a man who screams at fear.

Mari……err I mean, Luigi!

While Luigi is thought of as the more “fragile” of the Mario Brothers he sure knows how to handle paranormal events.

The game starts with Luigi having to enter Professor E. Gadd’s home to retrieve the Poltergust 5000, with it Luigi will be able to solve puzzles and catch all the wayward ghosts he comes across.

The gameplay in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon revolves around the Poltergust 5000 and the controls are pretty straightforward. You press the right bumper to activate the vacuum and the left bumper to activate the blower.

In order to get the jump on a ghost you’ll need to stun it first with a flash, that’s done by pressing A and then you use the vacuum to capture the ghost. Later on in the game you’ll also need to use a dark light beam to find hidden objects which will be activated by pressing Y.

Luigi’s default speed is slow and he tiptoes around the map, thankfully you have the option of pressing B as you move to make him run. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is also a game that only allows you to control the game with the thumbpad instead of the thumbpad or D pad.

Next Level Games does a great job of giving the player a gentle learning curve while fighting ghosts so that no ghost ever feels impossible to defeat

Combat in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is done well. There are ghosts of all sizes, shapes, and most importantly speeds. Like I said above, in order to catch a ghost you need to first hit it with the flash to daze it then use the vacuum to capture it. Early on this will work on all the ghosts, as you play longer you’ll see that the ghosts come prepared by wearing things that protect them from your flash. When you come across a protected ghost you’ll need to learn how to break down his defenses before he can be weakened and captured.

Next Level Games does a great job of giving the player a gentle learning curve while fighting ghosts so that no ghost ever feels impossible to defeat, you’re constantly building your skills as you progress in the game allowing you to be confident in whatever comes your way.

The puzzles in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon are all in the reasonable category where, for the most part, after studying the levels and your abilities you’ll know what to do. That being said there were a few times I had to take extra time to find the next part of a level, some of the hints are obscure and don’t exactly fit. Some may find no problems making it to the next area of the game and some may stumble, for the most part retracing your steps and trying your latest skill on anything that can move usually provides results.

Rainbows help fight off the spookiness.

Rainbows help fight off the spookiness.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is on a handheld and that means it’s more of a pick up and play style of game. The game is broken down into mission based gameplay with Professor E. Gadd sending Luigi out to perform a certain task and then whisks him back to his headquarters. This style of gameplay makes Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon always feel fresh and never wears out it’s welcome even if a particular stage or area is running long.

It’ll take you about 8-12 hours to beat the single player portion of the game depending on how well you dispatch ghosts and solve the puzzles. Players can extend the single player campaign by finding all of the hidden ghosts and collectables in the game which are collected in Professor E. Gadd’s vault, accessible from the main menu. Players can complete their bestiary by finding all the ghosts, try to find every Boo in the game, and collect all the gems. You can also see what unlockables you’ve obtained in the game from E. Gadd’s vault.

When you’re done with single player there’s also a very robust multiplayer to tackle.

From the main menu you have the option to enter the ScareScraper, the building which houses all the multiplayer modes.

  • Hunter: Hunt ghosts online, clearing floors to gain the best time.
  • Rush: Escape the mansion before your time expires.
  • Polterpup: Capture every Polterpup on a level.

The nice thing is that besides being able to be played online and locally these game modes can be played using download play. That means if only one person has Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon but wants to play with someone who doesn’t they’re able to send a downloadable version of the multiplayer so they can play together. It’s a great feature and nice to see it supported here.

The game looks gorgeous with everything being detailed and never muddy. The game also runs flawlessly with no slowdowns even when there’s a lot of commotion happening on the screen.

Despite his condition Polterpup's is a happy pet.

Despite his condition Polterpup is a happy pet.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon’s sound fits perfectly. The subtle creaks and groans all fit the haunted atmosphere but the real star is Luigi and his interactions. Luigi’s never been a stronger character when it comes to communicating to the player. His reactions to everything happening in the house are priceless and players can use the D pad to have Luigi speak certain things in his trademark way.

The music in the game fits it well. You’ll hear familiar songs that have been twisted with more of a haunted vibe. Nothing in the game is scary but it does fit the mood. The way the music follows the story’s pace is very well done and always feels like it’s framing the gameplay rather than detracting from it.

Why it may be helpful for people with anxiety

  • Looks great
  • Controls are perfect for pick up and play
  • Spooky but never scary
  • Overall lighthearted feeling throughout the game
  • Ability to replay stages for collectables
  • Enjoyable multiplayer
  • A lot of content between the single and multiplayer adventures

Why it may be unhelpful for people with anxiety

  • Portions of the game do get tense with Luigi sneaking around
  • Some may get stuck from time to time because of some obscure clues in how to advance

Why you should be playing this

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a great addition to the 3DS library because it never tries to do too much, Luigi’s Mansion laid out a great groundwork and Dark Moon built off of that.

There’s a spookiness in the game but it always feels light, mostly due to Luigi’s presence in the game. It never feels like a haunted house story, it feels like a Luigi story that involves a haunted house. Luigi’s mannerisms and dialogue help solidify the game. Slowing making your way though a mansion could feel slow and tedious but with Luigi hemming and hawing about it while also trying to keep himself calm the time playing it flies by.

Once you’re done with the single player portion you can still come back and hunt or be hunted in multiplayer. Actual enjoyable multiplayer too, not just tacked on to pad the title like we see in a lot of games these days.

Overall Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon isn’t just a great handheld game, it’s a great game overall.

This review was based on the 3DS version that was provided by the reviewer.

Release Date

Mar 24, 2013

Digital or Retail





Next Level Games



AwardsBest of it's genreConsistently good games from developer

Looks amazing, controls very well despite single analogue control, Luigi's personality really shines throughout the entire game, sounds are great, a lot of content between single and multiplayer.


Backtracking, how to progress in later levels not as clear as they should be.

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Jason Moquin
Oh this is where I get to say something about myself like I was captain of the debate team or that I was once king of Prussia. Well games, let's throw games in there, and I like sports, and comics, and animated things, mostly Japanese giant robots, oh and pasta, big fan of pasta. You know all shapes taste different? Each one has a distinctive bite and holds the sauce differently. A lot of people are like "PASTA IS PASTA" and I say "STOP YELLING AT ME".
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