Luigi's Mansion 2 screenshot
Luigi's Mansion 2 screenshot

Being the less recognised half of a duo is tough. What do you do when your brother suffers from a mega case of short-man syndrome and an insatiable thirst for the spotlight? Naturally, you back away into sheepishness, left to snatch at any leftover scraps of fame. There's a reason why it's Luigi's Mansion and not Mario's, after all. If it were up to the red guy, he'd strut in, chest puffed out like a pigeon and the job would be done in 15-minutes. Game over. May as well trade it in, mate.

Luckily, that's not the case. The game's basic setup is simple: the Dark Moon has shattered, releasing hordes of ghosts to run wild, and the barmy Professor E. Gadd has called in Luigi to help. Armed with a Poltergust, a Strobostrobe and a Darklight – a modded Dyson for capturing ghosts, a flashbang bulb for stunning them, and a UV ray for discovering hidden illusions – it's Luigi's job to venture into each mansion, collect the Moon shards, piece it back together and restore order to Evershade Valley.

As an exclusively Luigi affair, the game is packed full of the bashful appeal that's synonymous with the less-seen brother. Each of Luigi's little characteristics adds another neat touch to the game's personality. The way he hums along to the soundtrack to distract himself from being scared; the way he calls out to see if anyone is lurking in the shadows. Meticulous attention to great animation and character details brings the game to life.

This is true of the mansions, too. Each has its own neat idiosyncrasies, mixing fresh and clichéd ideas but never succumbing to over-familiarity. The first is a classic haunted house while the second is more eccentric, with a huge tree growing through the centre. Later locations edge away from the aforementioned haunted house vibe, but are still firmly grounded within Mansion 2's aesthetic. Everything looks gorgeous, with the cartoony design acting as a great fit for the 3DS' limited hardware, while the lighting effects accentuate the spooky atmosphere. The 3D effect is also impressive, although retaining that 'sweet spot' can be difficult when battling a handful of spectral nuisances.

Plodding around dirty houses with a vacuum cleaner might sound laborious, but it's far from it. Luigi's Mansion 2 is more objective-based than its predecessor, and each stage has you trekking after an item or chasing down a target ghost. Despite being less free-form, it's still wonderful to play. The objectives provide strict aims, but you're free to explore each mansion as you please. Investigating every nook and cranny almost always reveals something interesting, funny or rewarding. The amount of stuff hidden just out of sight, just out of reach, means that you feel more like a detective than a cleaner. I was still stumbling across hidden rooms on my third retread of some of the initial missions; credit to the brilliant design of each mansion.

Luigi's Mansion 2 screenshot

To catch ghosts, you stun them with your strobe and then suck them up with the Poltergust until the health bar hits zero. This is a case of pulling against the spook, like a supernatural tug-of-war. Fighting Greenies, the basic foe fodder, never becomes that challenging, but as more complex types are introduced you're pushed to be more tactical, and combat develops into something much greater than the sum of its parts. Later ghosts are extra devilish, popping in and out of visibility, forcing you to utilise the Darklight to reveal them. This switching back and forth between torches adds yet more depth, with the risk and reward factor of flashing a quick burst on one ghost, or charging a more powerful ray to stun multiple spooks for a larger prize. The detailed environment becomes integral to combat, too, and you have to keep an eye on any beds, bookshelves, and even a grand piano, in order to hunt down your targets. Being surrounded by multiple types of ghost, each doing their thing, and managing to slickly pick them off one-by-one, dodging all damage heading your way, is deeply satisfying.

The controls are surprisingly well adapted to the 3DS, too, and there were only a couple of times where the lack of a second stick felt like it was hindering progress; occurring in sections where a trio of particularly tough ghosts get in your way. It's frustrating to have to restart the entire mission again if you die, but for the most part Luigi's Mansion 2 is one of the handheld's best and most intuitive examples of single-stick controls.

Each mansion is a trove of collectibles and hidden cubbyholes; a hive of things to fight, secrets to find and puzzles to solve. This is a 15-hour long game, but you could easily extend well beyond that if you want to discover every hidden gem, catch every Boo mini-boss, or improve your star rating for each stage. A time-trial ghost hunt is unlocked for each mansion once you catch a Boo in every level, and although the bonus stages add nothing more to the narrative, you'll want to find every Boo because snooping around is constantly rewarding. Once combat and exploration gel together, rummaging around becomes second nature, and the addictive routine of checking rooms from top to bottom restrains you from rushing through and missing the game's hidden treasures. That the game manages to entice you into its world with such simple mechanics is proof of the creativity on show here.

The ghost hunt extends online in a trio of co-op Thrill Tower modes. Hunter sees you chasing spooks against the clock, Rush is an intense search for a hidden hatch before the half-minute limit runs out, and Polterpup has you tracking down undead pooches. The latter of the three modes is the most fun, but the others still provide interim enjoyment. Each implement competitive elements, awarding bonuses to the best ghost hunter and so forth, adding something more engrossing than each mode's basic objective and providing an incentive to be the best on the team instead of slacking behind.

Luigi's Mansion 2 screenshot

There's also an assumption that you've become pretty savvy with your tools, especially in Rush where you have to quickly coordinate with your fellow Luigis and find the hidden hatch or it's game over. Teamwork is essential here, whereas you can mostly get away with being a lone wolf in the other modes, wandering off to try catch the most ghosts to snag those all important end-of-level bonuses. Single cart download play also features, which is an absolute boon if you've got friends who haven't yet bothered to buy a copy.

But they really, really should. Luigi's Mansion 2 is a joy, showcasing a love for characterisation and wonderful attention to detail that gives the game an inimitable personality. It never outstretches the limitations of the 3DS, but continuously proves the system's lofty capabilities. Its few minor missteps don't manage to detract from what is one of the best games on the handheld. If Luigi was a cockier guy, he'd be bragging like Mario, but we all know that's not his style, and we're luckier for it.

Completed single-player on normal difficulty in 15 hours. Played multiplayer for around 2/3 hours.

9 / 10

  • Great control scheme
  • Brimming with character
  • Loads of stuff to find
  • Abrupt level endings, lack of checkpoints

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13 Comments

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munkee's Avatar

munkee

@pblive

I would love to see Wave Race return on the 3DS. I used to spend hours on that, not even racing. Just riding the tides.

@Jam_Sponge

Castlevania is well worth your time as well :) I'm wondering if MercurySteam might get Nintendo approaching them with the Metroid license after this.

@MJTH

I'm wondering if the 3DS is going to be competition for the Nextbox/PS4 ;P
Posted 13:45 on 22 March 2013
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH@ Endless

I think of this game helps to speak volumes of how well Nintendo can turn around a console. When comparing the point the Wii U is at right now, with where the 3DS was at, at this point in it's life, people thought it would be dead by now, or at least killed off by the vita. 2 years later, it's probably one of the freshest console on the market at the moment.

Having said that nextbox and PS4 will be much stiffer competition for Wii U in a sense.
Posted 13:09 on 22 March 2013
Jam_Sponge's Avatar

Jam_Sponge

First Nintendo game in ages I've been really excited about. Torn between this and Castlevania, now! Time to find that flipping 3DS...
Posted 13:06 on 22 March 2013
EverTheOptimist's Avatar

EverTheOptimist@ Endless

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought this was for the Wii U!
Posted 12:57 on 22 March 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ Endless

Luigi's mansion was a launch Gamecube title, not Wii.

The Gamecube had, in my opinion, one of the strongest launch line-ups of all time; Luigi's Mansion, Star Wars Rogue Leader, Super Monkey Ball and Wave Race.
Posted 12:51 on 22 March 2013
Endless's Avatar

Endless

I clicked on this review from the home page slider and if the review hadn't mentioned it was on the 3DS I probably would have never known. My initial reaction was: "Oh cool, a decent first party Wii U title to finally show us what it can do" So i'm not sure if this speaks volumes as to how good the 3DS has become and yet the average non-follower-of-3ds has become unaware and jaded of it's progress, or how much is expected of the Wii U and badly it is progressing :| Someone really needs to teach Nintendo how to market things, at least from my perspective.

Either way I actually really liked the first Luigi's mansion. Being one of the few titles on the Wii that was worth playing in it's first year, it's one of two memorable moments, Twilight princess was the other, I have from being an early adopter of the Wii. So assuming Luigi's mansion 2 it's everything and an improvement on the original it should be excellent :)

Also, having more personality than Mario wouldn't exactly be a tough act now would it, lets be fair; Aside from "ah haaaa!" and "oooooohhhh" and the odd wink he's pretty much a zombie :P I always preferred Luigi! :)
Posted 12:47 on 22 March 2013
munkee's Avatar

munkee@ samwrite

Yeah, I can imagine that happening. Those wily ghosts ;)
Posted 20:32 on 21 March 2013
samwrite's Avatar

samwrite@ munkee

Hey munkee. I have an XL. The sweet spot issue wasn't hugely prevalent, and only really became noticeable when you're tugging against ghosts left right and centre. For the most part, the 3D looks great.
Posted 20:05 on 21 March 2013
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH

Of course. Of all the games I was on the fence on last year, this was the one I told my self not to buy. Just like kid icuras I'll miss out another great game until much later.

Oh well, at least I know I have games that can pick so day and know I'll have a good time with. Nice review :)
Posted 19:42 on 21 March 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

My next 3DS game for sure.
Posted 19:25 on 21 March 2013
munkee's Avatar

munkee

Good stuff. I've been in two minds about this for a while and its good to see positive reviews coming in. 3DS seems to be hitting all the right notes at the moment.

I'll probably finish off the excellent Castlevania this weekend and pick up Luigis Mansion next week :)

Out of interest
Quote:
The 3D effect is also impressive, although retaining that 'sweet spot' can be difficult when battling a handful of spectral nuisances.
Was this on a standard 3DS, or XL. I sold my standard not long after release because of this sweet spot issue. But, I rarely have an issue on my XL.
Posted 19:24 on 21 March 2013
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good review. Damn! I won't be able to get this for a long time yet. Setting up my own business etc is taking my time plus money.
Posted 19:08 on 21 March 2013
Woodfella's Avatar

Woodfella

Hooray, this is tip top news. Was really hoping this would be good.

Cracking review.
Posted 18:35 on 21 March 2013

Game Stats

Luigi's Mansion 2
9
Out of 10
Luigi's Mansion 2
  • Great control scheme
  • Brimming with character
  • Loads of stuff to find
  • Abrupt level endings, lack of checkpoints
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/03/2013
Platform: 3DS
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer
Rating: PEGI 7+
Site Rank: 1,233 167
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