Some Thoughts on Luigi’s Mansion 2; What the Game Needs to be Successful

Out of all the upcoming 3DS games in 2012, I have to admit that Luigi’s Mansion 2 is one of the ones I’m most looking forward to.  I mean, Kid Icarus is nice (but an untested concept), Smash Bros is good but possibly not the best fit for a handheld game, and Paper Mario 3DS seems like it’s staying a little too close to the Nintendo 64 original stylistically, and perhaps is a more ‘wait and see’ type game.  But Luigi’s Mansion 2 interests me, because the original was one of my favourite Gamecube games.  And while it seems like the sequel will easily be even better than the original, there are a few things I think it should do in order to be a great game and overcome the original’s shortcomings.

1. Have more variety

And it immediately seems like it’ll accomplish this by having multiple themed mansions to explore.  Unfortunately though, this seems to highlight a bit of a problem with the original game, and heck, much of the Mario game library on the Gamecube… the localised areas they were set in by definition didn’t allow a great deal of variety.

In fact, you have to give Luigi’s Mansion 1 its due here, it did an incredible job of keeping the setting varied despite an extremely limited scope.  Yes it may have been small in compared to some real mansions, but most in the real world end up having multiple of every type of room, like say, ten bedrooms, five bathrooms, three or so lounge/sitting room type areas and multiple kitchens.  Luigi’s Mansion dodged that, even if it did have to make the mansion’s rooms seem awfully contrived at various times.  And you have to admit, the game did seem a tiny bit over the top as far as all the different rooms went.  Does anyone really have the varied types of rooms the original game had?  I can see people having a toy room, artists studio, armoury and billiards room, but I don’t think you’ll find many realistic houses having ALL of them at once.  Not to mention, the fortune tellers room, mirror room, secret shrine and safari room that don’t really seem to have much place in any traditional mansion.  People complain the game’s too short, but come on, there probably aren’t enough room types on the planet that could justify another four areas.

That’s why the idea of having multiple mansions with their own themes works so well, and why I’m not really too worried about each mansion being shorter than the one from the original game.

Here’s hoping for some more varied levels.  We already seem to have an egyptian style tomb with mummy like enemies and what seems to be an ice cave, so maybe we can also get a haunted town?  Or a haunted factory?  Maybe if they were going to mock survival horror more, a haunted boat/ship, considering the setting of Resident Evil Revelations.  Not to mention some of the classic horror locations not yet mentioned, like a creepy run down hotel or an abandoned hospital/mental asylum.

2. More variety in gameplay

Sadly, this is where the original game didn’t quite live up to expectations.  It was fun while it lasted, but I’d say the gameplay definitely got a bit samey as you got closer to the final boss, and you’d pretty much seen and done everything ‘new’ by the start of area 4. There were no elements or power ups, and after you’d conquered the blackout it felt like the game was practically done with you just clearing out the last few rooms left.

Ideally, the sequel needs more variety.  Not sure what that would entail (does the core gameplay of sucking up ghosts with the Poltergust have enough depth for a longer game?  Can the exploration/puzzle solving be taken much further?), but it needs to have the sort of variety found in other Mario games, where every new area introduces a new gimmick and where you’re still learning new things right up to the final boss.

Not that the final area was bad, I thought many of the final portrait ghosts you encountered were some of the best designed, most interesting characters in the game (and ones like Sir Weston, Vincent van Gore and King Boo are often cited as some of the more interesting ‘bosses’). But Luigi’s Mansion 2 can do even better.

3. Interesting enemies and bosses

You know how I mentioned how great the last few portrait ghosts were in Luigi’s Mansion?  Well I’d go even further and say that the characters were a definite strong point of the whole experience.  Not only did all the ghosts have a decent amount of character and more backstory than most other characters in the Mario series as a whole, I always felt they made the game stand out from most other Mario games.  You almost wonder what their backstories and previous lives were like before they became ghosts, and more to the point, they actually look like they actually were once alive unlike most other ghosts in the series.

That’s currently a problem I have with Luigi’s Mansion 2, at least from the various screenshots I’ve seen.  The generic ghosts lack the charm of the older ones, and the boss/portrait ghosts don’t even seem to look remotely human this time around, and hence don’t seem as interesting.  This is the one we’ve seen so far, who pretty much looks like an undead Toad:

I’m sorry, but he just seems so uninteresting as far as design goes. Sure, the original had some non human ghosts as well, like the guard dog Spooky, Boolossus, King Boo and Bogmire, but they had far more memorable designs than the guy above has. Maybe it’ll turn out he’s got an interesting backstory to explain the weird design, like how he was corrupted by his delusions and turned to dark magic, hence the strange designs that doesn’t seem too far from that of the normal ghosts.  Maybe it’ll turn out he created them like Van Gore did in the original.  But as of now, he seems boring.  More to the point, I kind of dread they’ll just go the generic ‘giant mook as boss’ route so many other Mario games went and take away much of the reason people liked Luigi’s Mansion in the first place.  I don’t just want ‘giant ghost’ in the same way Big Bob-omb is a giant Bob-omb and Big Bully is a giant Bully.

Considering having multiple mansions and areas that aren’t standard mansions as explorable areas is a feature of this game, I really hope they come up with some interesting portrait ghosts to go with them.

4. Atmospheric, excellent quality music

Another thing I think the original Luigi’s Mansion did fantastically was the music.  It was a bit more subtle and atmospheric than your standard upbeat Mario fare, and it really kept the game exciting to play. Heck, the music probably scared more people than the actual ghosts or ‘horror’ elements did…

Listen to the themes played in dark rooms or outside the mansion.  They not only fit the locations perfectly, but they really do keep you on guard at all times:

They’re just so different and arguably so much more interesting than your standard Mario music.  It’s why ever since Luigi’s Mansion, I’ve never particularly loved much of the music in standard Mario game haunted house levels because of how they seem almost too cheery for the area in question.  Not that I hate the music in Ghostly Galaxy, it’s just it doesn’t seem fitting:

Thankfully, Luigi’s Mansion 2 really looks to deliver here.  We haven’t heard much of the game’s music, but the stuff in gameplay videos seems to be low key enough as to keep the creepy mood going, and the trailer theme is excellent:

Here’s hoping the rest of the game’s music is at least the same quality, because a game like this really deserves the very best in background music.

In conclusion, I’m hoping for great music, more variety in levels, interesting ghosts and some more variety in the core gameplay and game mechanics, and those things would make the game into a definite classic.  What do you think Luigi’s Mansion 2 needs to be successful?

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