The nervous humming. The twitch of a curtain. A flurry of panic as a ghost appears. 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 chockfull of comedic moments that matches genuine thrills with knockabout playfulness worthy of a top-tier Disney feature.
The fundamental gameplay hasn’t changed drastically since the original Nintendo 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 around 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 mission design.
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, 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. The game constantly urges you to peep into every corner, look under every bed and peer through every crack in the wall. And it 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 and his beautifully animated nerves make him the perfect reluctant hero.
The Luigi’s Mansion gameplay format has made the journey to handheld relatively intact. The controls have been adjusted to account for a single analog stick and although they are not perfect things along become frustrating 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.