Luigi has always stood in the shadow of his gaming mascot brother Mario. But by stepping back into the shadows for creepy-cutesy Nintendo 3DS title Luigi’s Mansion 2, the skinnier of the two Mario brothers may shine all the brighter. Read on for Tech Digest’s first hands-on impressions with Luigi’s Mansion 2.
A direct sequel to the Gamecube’s Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi’s Mansion 2 on the 3DS sees the “other” Mario brother go pro with his ghost-hunting business go pro with the help of Professor E. Gadd, taking down the ghouls with an array of gadgets across a number of haunted mansions. We took a look at what presumably will be the first level, an eerie haunted mansion in very much the classic Hammer Horror vein.
In many senses, little has changed from the Gamecube original to this portable successor. You’ll still guide Luigi around a series of haunted rooms within a larger building, uncovering each room’s treasures and secrets with a vacuum cleaner-style contraption and flashlight combo which can also be used for bagging ghosts.
However, the devil is in the detail, and it seems Nintendo are pulling out every trick that the 3DS is capable of with Luigi’s Mansion 2.
Firstly, visually it’s easily among the best titles we’ve seen so far for the handheld. Its cartoon creepiness is a charmingly displayed; Luigi is constantly a shivering nervous wreck, animated with great humour, while the locations are highly detailed, cluttered with interactive items that rattle and shake as you suck at them with your vacuum, just as you’d expect given the supernatural surroundings. Likewise, the lighting is superb; from flashes of lightning to the way Luigi’s flashlight glares into the screen, it all looks a treat.
The 3D effects are also among the best we’ve experienced on the handheld for a number of reasons. For the most part, the game is played from a fixed camera perspective, giving each room a unique flavour. As a result, the developers are able to frame shots more excitingly, with prominent items sitting in the foreground as Luigi explores into the screen. And while there is action aplenty, at least half of our 15-minute demo time was played at a more leisurely pace, as we tinkered with pulling sheets off tabletops, shaking down dusty chests of drawers and sucking up leaves in the dishevelled garden. At this slower pace, we were able to keep the screen comfortably in its 3D sweet-spot without succumbing to the flickering that some more demanding titles suffered from (here’s looking at you, Starfox).
That ghost-hunting action is also refined compared to the preceding title. As stated, Luigi sucks up ghosts using a backpack vacuum cleaner device, and in many cases he’ll find himself locked within a room until he takes out the ghoulies hiding inside. In this sequel, Luigi will be able to suck up multiple ghosts at once, which also means that more ghosts can launch themselves at you without you being overwhelmed. Blasting them with a quick flash of the torch (or holding its button down for a blinding flash that will freeze them in their tracks even longer), ghost’s can then be sucked up, and will drag Luigi around a room unless he can reel them in. It’s a bit like fishing for spectres, as you pull in an opposite direction from the spirits.
The design of the different ghosts also often raised a smile. From bruising ghosts that rushed Luigi to sneaky slim ones that crept up behind him, they’re, ironically, full of life. We particularly liked one we found in a kitchen, armed with a platter for a shield and a cooking pot for a helmet that made him a particularly pesky poltergeist.
Levels have a new sense of verticality too thanks to clever use of the accelerometer built into the 3DS. Used when peeping through windows, it can also be used to control the direction of Luigi’s vacuum cleaner suction. As such, each room has plenty of opportunity for uncovering hidden goodies in the rafters, and you’ll easily and happily explore each room far longer than it takes to clear them of ghosts, just to uncover each secret.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 won’t be top of 3DS wishlists this Christmas thanks to big-name launches like Super Mario 3Ds and Mario Kart 3DS, but it should be from what we’ve seen so far. It could well end up being an even better game than either of those better-known franchises. Using more of the 3DS’s tricks effectively in a single title than most of the console’s catalogue put together, ghostbusting with Luigi feels good, and we cant wait to spend more quality time with him in the haunted mansions.
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