The nervous humming, the twitch of a curtain, a flurry of panic as a ghost appears, and then the mad cap pursuit that ensues. Luigi is back.
Nintendo’s franchises are often likened to cartoons, but it’s the revived Luigi’s Mansion that feels the closest yet. It’s a game chock-full of comedic moments matching genuine thrills with a knock-about playfulness that is worthy of a top-tier Disney feature.
The fundamental gameplay hasn’t changed drastically since the original GameCube launch title. It remains a room by room exploration game made from a recipe that blends adventuring, simple puzzle solving and ghost busting mayhem. This time round there are five mansions to explore, each featuring multiple missions and diversions. The new locations mainly serve as window dressing, but they do help to cover for the overall lack of variety in the mission to mission gameplay.
Not that the game ever gets boring, far from it, Luigi’s Mansion 2 retains the ability to surprise right to the end with moments of imagination and inventiveness that are certain to bring about a smile. The boss battles are a particular highlight, being perfectly pitched to require a combination of raw ghost taming skill with environmental manipulation.
Each mission is nicely paced, lasting a portable friendly 15-30 minutes and there are various hidden collectables to find that encourage repeat trips. It’s a game that constantly urges you to peep into every corner, look under every bed and peer through every crack in the wall. And one that usually rewards you for doing so.
After a glut of Mario games it’s also nice to spend some more time with the other plumber. Luigi is an adorable leading man, his beautifully animated nerves making him the perfect reluctant hero and a refreshing change from his princess saving brother.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 has made the journey to handheld relatively intact. The controls have been subtly adjusted to account for a single analog stick, it’s not perfect by any stretch but only really frustrates during the most chaotic of moments.
The 3D effect is also well used, giving solidity to the environments and depth to the ghostly spectres. And as with the first game, the sound design is truly excellent.
Add in a simple but fun multiplayer component and Luigi’s Mansion 2 is another game to add to an increasingly impressive list of top-tier 3DS titles.