Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

I’ve never disliked a sequel so badly in my life. For everything the GameCube’s launch title Luigi’s Mansion was, the 3DS follow-up wasn’t.

I’ll retract on that a bit, but not much. The game begins with all of the same setup, charms, and quirks you’ve come to expect from the original game including the Poltergust 5000, Professor E. Gadd, Toad, and more.

In fact, the controls are simplified for the handheld, and much more refined in this way than the original title.

Rather than explore several floors of a single mansion, the game is split into five different worlds, each with missions. This is different than the original game in every way, and oftentimes frustrating, as dying within a given mission means you have to restart over.

The difficulty of some areas is what sucks the fun out of the game. Among my bugaboos are some stupidly difficult bosses early on, including an area with several sister ghosts that can pretty much kill you at will – restarting the mission makes it even more of a chore to continue going back and redoing mundane tasks, which don’t always lend themselves to being obvious as to what to do next.

You’ll waste plenty of time trying to squint to see details on-screen in figuring out what needs done, with some areas seeing you solve the puzzle and still somehow be unaware if you did or not! (This is clearly an issue with an area where you melt the ice off of an elevator, and it still doesn’t work unless you know to sweep up the extra snow alongside it too!)

After solving a puzzle, you’re finally ready to progress through a level before being sharply interrupted by Professor Gad on the “Dual Scream” device (similar to the GameBoy communication device in the original). The long screens of dialog interrupt the game, sucking even more fun out of it.

The same can be said for cutscenes, which occur all over the place and are included, in my opinion, to mask the shortness of some of the game’s levels.

In all, I finally got too frustrated wasting my time with this game. Even if you love the original, it may be a tad of a chore (and bore) to play through. I got about 2/3 through before packing it up after a shooting gimmick boss level.

Not to be outdone, the game features an area with three staircases that legitimately took nearly an hour to complete as you guess which of the three options to take on what feels like 20-some floors of steps.

It’s moves like these that makes me wonder how this game got through Nintendo’s approval process, as I can’t imagine younger gamers wasting the time to go through this headache over and over.

In all the game gets a thumbs-in-the-middle from me. There’s enough here to like, but not enough to make me want to come back and ever play it again… a shame considering how beloved the original is.

Luigi’s Mansion

The GameCube was the first Nintendo console to launch without a dedicated “Mario” title opting instead to make his brother Luigi the star of one of the first games available for the new system launched in 2001 in North America.

The game was unlike any other in the Mario series to date. While Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64 brought us into the third dimension, Luigi’s Mansion had another dimension in mind: the paranormal one that is!

Armed with a vacuum cleaner reminiscent of the Ghostbusters “proton pack” Luigi would aide a creepy yet lovable mad scientist type “Professor E. Gadd” in clearing each room of the haunted mansion of ghosts, all in search of his brother, Mario, who had gone missing.

Yes, Mario was missing from the GameCube and this storyline was built into the launch title!

The humor and subtle details of this title made it an instant classic as Luigi goes from room to room, clearing them of spirits (and boos) while turning the lights on in each and gaining keys to access others. He moves from floor to floor to accomplish this, with four “levels” in total, each ending in a main boss.

I had some gripes with the gameplay in some aspects, as I feel the controls in the 3DS sequel are a bit easier/better to use, however, it wasn’t enough to get in my way of enjoying this game, which itself, has fantastic graphics and sound, really showcasing how underrated the GameCube was while competing with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles.

The game has a long-lasting charm to it, and the usual “scavenger hunt” schemes often seen in Mario games, where players will want to find every hidden item and make it to 100% completion.

The game also has some great surprises in it, of which I won’t ruin here. It’s a game you’ll definitely want to pickup and play; if you do, you’ll understand why it has spawned sequels and also become a part of the Super Mario culture, inspiring items and appearances throughout other Mario-themed games.