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Press Start Spotlight: Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Release Date: April 30, 2013

I have been waiting over ten years for this game. Avid Luigi’s Mansion fans never quite gave up hope for a well-deserved sequel to finally come to fruition. Some of us even daydreamed about using the Wii Remote controls to fight ghoulish phantoms, but it turns out the next game was never meant to be on that console. Nintendo has decided to put Luigi’s brand-new haunted house expedition right in the palm of your hands – by bringing it to the 3DS.

I was elated to discover how much content Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is brimming with. There’s a whopping five different mansions to delve into this time around. Meticulously investigating every nook and cranny of each one to uncover the surplus of secrets and treasure can take hours. And then after that, you’re allowed to go back to each mission in an attempt to improve your score. The campaign’s longevity and replay value considerably enhance the game’s vitality.

Of course, we wouldn’t necessarily want the game to be so lengthy if we had to wade through it with second-rate controls. Thankfully, Dark Moon hits the nail on the head when it comes to a workable control scheme. Luigi’s movements using the Circle Pad are all fluid and responsive. The true control marvel present here, however, lies in the utilization of the handheld’s built-in motion sensor. Tilting the 3DS system to aim your vacuum nozzle is an idea that’s both interesting and surprisingly effective.

The audio quality of Dark Moon is also nothing to sneeze at. The catchy background music is worthy of being hummed along to (proven by a certain lead protagonist doing just that). All the ghostly grunts, gasps and guffaws suit the general playfulness of the game’s tone. The fact that it’s been over a decade since the release of its GameCube predecessor shows in the monumental graphical improvements as well. Nowadays, Luigi’s expressions and animations are much more lively and highly-detailed, making him into a very relatable and charmingly comical hero. And yes, the 3D is still an option for adding depth, but even without this feature, the game is gorgeous, especially for a handheld title.

However, I do need to take off my rose-colored glasses for a moment and realize that the game’s definitely not flawless. My biggest gripe has to be the fact that you’re only allowed to save your progress after you finish each mission. There’s nothing more frustrating than making it 90 percent of the way to completion only to get bested by eerie specters and have to start all over again. It wasn’t enough to ruin everything, but it certainly discouraged me at times. Maybe I just need to brush up on my skills?

I’ve always seen myself as a Nintendo fan at heart. However, there are times where I lose the impulse to always be a cheerleader for them, especially when looking at the disheartening lack of blockbuster titles for Wii U. However, games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon always manage to invigorate my devotion. There certainly was a long hiatus before Nintendo finally stuck the younger Mario Bro back into some spooky scenery, but rest assured, this game proves it was worth the wait.