Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Preview From Comic-Con 2012 -- Bustin' Makes Me Feel GoodBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Jul 12, 2012
Mario’s oft-ignored brother Luigi is back in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, a puzzle-platformer for the Nintendo 3DS. Even though he’s the less-famous brother, it’s obvious Nintendo has spared no expense in creating a first-rate 3DS game for Luigi. I played a brief demo at Comic-Con 2012 and fell in deep, spiritual love with this title. It’s pretty hot.
I was first struck with the characterization of Luigi. Unlike the unflappable Mario, Luigi is not a heroic character. He’s a coward, who shivers and quakes at the slightest sign of the supernatural, so it’s good that he spends a lot of time in haunted mansions. Luigi’s animations are all but perfect, his face and posture comically expressing his unwillingness to face his fears, and his reluctant gait is a testament to cowardice.
The game also does an amazing job of creating a total environment for Luigi to explore. With the 3D dial on the 3DS turned up, it’s like looking into a tiny shoebox diorama, like a cartoon happening in the palm of your hand. And unlike many 3DS games, the pace is slow enough that you can really enjoy the delightfully detailed settings. This might be the best use of 3D in game I’ve seen yet.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is clearly a deep game. While you could run through it relatively quickly, patience and exploration are rewarded at every turn. Each room is packed with objects to interact with. If you shake a cabinet, coins come out. Interact with suits of armor, and they might spin their helmets around. Carpets can be pushed aside to reveal trap doors. Surprises hide behind blowing drapes. There’s a lot of cool stuff in the mansion.
Gameplay wise, Dark Moon is mainly a puzzle game. Luigi, armed with a vacuum cleaner/flashlight, must work his way through haunted homes and suck up ghosts along the way. The puzzles are clever -- hard enough to be challenging, but not to the point of frustration. Example: Luigi must a find a key to open a door. A quick look around the mansion reveals no clue where it is,.but if you interact with each object you come across, eventually you’ll notice the tapestry in the corner of one room. Suck it into your vacuum cleaner to reveal a chest that contains the key. Progress!
Even not being able to solve a puzzle is rewarded in a sense, in that you’ll probably end up finding 15 other hidden things you weren’t looking for while questing after the key. The game even uses the 3DS motion sensor to allow you to physically look around by lifting your 3DS up and down to reveal secrets you'd otherwise miss.
Some puzzles require you to check both the floor and the ceiling if you want to make it through this mansion.
The game’s combat is pretty impressive as well. Much like the original Luigi’s Mansion, you freeze ghosts with your flashlight, and then suck them into your Poltergust 3000. It takes timing and skill, but not so much that ghost battles become an exercise in frustration.
Dark Moon will feature several different haunted mansions when it’s released this fall for the 3DS. It might not have the name recognition of a Mario game, but when people have a chance to check out this artfully made game, I predict it will become a must have title for the console.