Luigi’s Mansion 2 Review; A Title that Outshines Its Predecessor in Every Way
Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a brilliant game. Yeah, that’s pretty much the entire gist of the review and the one message you should care for right off the bat, so there’s no real question whether it’s a game you should buy in future.
But let me explain why it’s a great game in more detail via this review. Basically, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is better than the first game in every way. It’s better on a technical level, it’s better on a gameplay/design level, and it’s so much better on a replay value/difficulty level that the original can’t even begin to compare to it. Let’s start with the technical side and the graphics and music first…
Graphically, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is one of the best games on the 3DS. Every mansion looks absolutely fantastic and is packed to the literal rafters with detail, the ghosts are all generally well designed and it looks so clear and non blurry that the game could quite easily stand on a home console with only minimal changes.
Above: This is running on a handheld system. My god game graphics have come a long way since the Game Boy…
This is even more noticeable in the Secret Mine, where the snow effects and general feel are so outstanding in their quality that you end up forgetting that this is a game that’s running on a handheld games system. Seriously, if you still don’t think the graphics are amazing immediately, go and play through the last few mansions since they are some of the best examples ever of what the 3DS is capable of graphics tech wise.
P.S. There’s also quite a few neat background things. Like how you can see King Boo fly past you in the background in numerous missions…
Amazing. That’s literally the only way to describe the music in this game. Every track fits perfectly, you’ve got all kinds of creepy remixes and unique pieces of music for the most minor areas and sections, and generally it’s at least as good as the original. Have a listen to some samples:
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in how brilliant the soundtrack is. Every mansion has its own fantastic remix of the main theme that fits the feel perfectly (and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout):
Above: Haunted Towers, the Old Clockworks and the Secret Mine music are all great remixes of the same general theme.
What’s more impressive is how many unique pieces of music they came up with for this title. I mean, how many tracks did the original have? About ten? This one on the other hand has an original remix or piece of music for literally every possible situation from you being outside/inside, playing a jukebox or a piano being played in the distance. And every single one of these themes fits the mood perfectly.
Definitely one of the best Nintendo soundtracks of recent years.
As for how Luigi’s Mansion 2 stacks up gameplay wise, it stacks up fantastically and is literally one of the most entertaining games on the 3DS so far.
Yes it’s a bit different from how it was in the first Luigi’s Mansion (you don’t use two analogue sticks to change your view/movement independantly and the ghost busting is very different to before), but it’s arguably much better as a result. For instance, in the original game, the ghost catching process could get extremely annoying. Oh look, I didn’t pull back in exactly the right direction and he got away. Oh yay, I’ve got to whittle down all 100 of the enemy’s health bit by bit. But here all the core ghost busting has been improved. No longer do you fly away from the ghost whenever you make the most minor slip up, it’s forgiving enough that you have to actually not try or get hit to lose your grip. You also have this power meter you can charge up that lets you give the ghost a deadly electric shock whenever it reaches its limit and you press A, which wears it down even quicker. And best of all, dodging enemy attacks while trying to suck in enemies is actually doable now, you can hit B to leap out the way of incoming attacks and projectiles. Much better than the somewhat archaic method used in the first title.
Above: Catching ghosts is much, much better in Luigi’s Mansion 2.
The other controls are well done and easy to get the hang of too. The Slide Pad is obviously used to move (with B as a run button), A is used to activate the Strobe Light, Y for the Dark Light, R to suck things in, L to spit them out and X to interact with the environment (or look up if not near anything). These controls work well enough that the game feels like its entirely based on your skill rather than any fault of the game, and when you fail it feels entirely fair too.
The basic structure of the game works great. You’ve got various mansions to explore, each is split into ten-thirty minute missions with ghosts to catch and puzzles to solve (sort of equivalent to an ‘area’ in the original) and the basic structure has you wandering from place to place while interacting with things in the environment. The level design here is absolutely top notch, each room and hallway has a whole ton of things to do and find, as well a good ton of objects to interact with via the Strobe Light, Dark Light and Poltergust 5000. And believe you me, the puzzles and gimmicks here are amazing. You have to carry balls of spider web and light them on fire, bring objects from room to room to do things like water plants, light a rocket fuse or weigh down switches with buckets of water. These get even more complex later when things like portals/teleportation or conveyer belts get thrown into the mix, and are an absolute highlight of the game. This is what the next Zelda game’s puzzles should be like.
Above: The puzzles in this game are great fun and extremely well designed.
But don’t think combat is only an aside here or that skill isn’t involved. Ghosts now have far better intelligence and teamwork skills than in the original, and can use things like armour, weapons or disguises to aid their attempts at brutally maiming poor Luigi. Ghosts now come in packs larger than any seen in the original. And outside of battle, you’ve also got to do things like ride balloons with the Poltergust, cross narrow swaying tightropes with gyro controls and shoot flaming rocks and bombs at distant targets to take ’em down. This may be a more puzzle based game than before, but this is also at least twice as heavy on the action and combat.
Bosses are great too. Not going to spoil too much, but wow, the first boss in this game is impressive enough that it arguably required more skill and logical thinking to solve than any of the ‘final’ bosses from most other recent Nintendo games. And the later ones always keep it interesting with new game mechanics and clever ideas.
Above: This one boss is arguably better than 90% of Nintendo bosses in recent years.
This game’s extra mansions are the biggest and best addition though. Remember how in the first game it seemed like the rooms sometimes blended in to each other or how they were a bit too ‘realistic’ at the expense of gameplay variety? That’s not the case here. Haunted Towers has you messing with plants, Old Clockworks with gears and technology and the Secret Mine with dangerous caverns and icy floors. These ‘mansions’ may be less ‘down to earth’ than the first game’s one, but by darn they are far more impressive and interesting to explore. And the last one is the best of all…
Above: It looks the part too.
As far as gameplay goes, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a fantastic game that is better than the original in near enough every way. Like what a sequel SHOULD be.
Difficulty and game length is the next point to mention, and it’s definitely a marked improvement over the first game. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is both far more difficult and far longer than the first game to its benefit.
Length wise, the additional mansions are the main bonus here. Basically, you have five mansions to explore, each with between 3 and 7 missions a piece. With these missions each taking between 5 and 20 minutes depending on your skill and each ‘mansion’ arguably being the same size as the single house from the original game, you can bet your life this won’t be over in a couple of hours.
Above: If you don’t believe my game length claims, just look at how big the maps are on the bottom screen and how many floors each place has.
And as for difficulty, I was not joking when I said this game was significantly tougher. For one thing, the types of puzzles and ideas you have to figure out in this game are way, way more complex than in the original title. Think you’re just going to be racing from room to room in a fairly straight line while catching a few ghosts? Think again, these mansions are basically enormous mazes filled with twisting passageways and rooms that all seem to lead to different places. Indeed, if you don’t have a walkthrough with you, it’s entirely possible to either get stuck at a puzzle or just plain lost in the various houses you end up exploring.
Above: It’s quite easy to get lost in the Secret Mine.
Oh, and don’t you think combat is easier here either. Yeah, sucking in ghosts may be simpler now you don’t have to ‘reel’ them in so much and can generally keep hold of most ghosts you’re sucking in with the Poltergust for longer, but these ghosts tend to have multiple attacks, clever defensive strategies and come in (sometimes rather large) groups that surround you from all sides! Think dealing with Van Gore’s minions from the original was a challenge? Just wait until you try dealing with the more… ‘natural’ ghosts of Evershade Valley!
Above: They may look a bit cute, but these guys are ten times more vicious than the ghosts from the original.
The bosses are no cakewalk either. Remember how before Boolossus was the only remotely difficult fight in Luigi’s Mansion and how the vast majority of portrait ghosts were fairly simple for ‘bosses’? Well that’s all changed. The spider boss in mansion 1 has three difficult ways you have to attack it and learns from your past behaviour, the clock face boss has you swarmed with enemies in a cramped location and the later bosses after that are even tougher. And the mini bosses? Way more aggressive than the portrait ghosts in the original. Poltergeist? Not bad. Three Sisters? Arguably harder than every non boss portrait ghost in the original bar perhaps Sir Weston and the Toy Soldiers (because of how they can swarm you from all sides). And the later ones like the ‘Ancient Poltergeist’ are not particularly easy either, even if I did take ’em out within a minute or less.
So don’t worry about this being an easy or short game, because it really isn’t. And while some will say the lack of portrait ghosts causes it to lose personality, the honest to God truth is that the mini bosses and bosses you do see there are way, way more brutal and clever than any of the humanoid ones from the original.
Much, much better than the first Luigi’s Mansion. Yeah that’s not exactly a difficult thing to beat replay value wise (especially if you live outside of Europe and got the crappy version of the Hidden Mansion as your only reward), but this game really does outdo it in so many ways in regards to getting you to reply missions over and over.
For one thing, each mission has a Boo to catch. Kind of like how each room in the original game had one, except now it’s far more interesting given the lack of a Boo radar and the fact you actually have to find it in a hidden (Spirit Ball affected) object in one room of many instead of just interacting with random furniture. And if you get all of them? You unlock a secret mission that has you speed run through much of the mansion while catching even more ghosts! No more worthless diamonds here!
Above: The one easy to find/catch Boo in the game.
But that’s not the only thing that’s interesting. Each mansion also has about 10 gem stones you have to collect, which again require you to search the area far and wide and explore even the most optional rooms. I’m not sure what they’re used for yet, but they probably have some effect on the gameplay somewhere down the line.
The big addition however is the star ranking system. Yes, whereas before you just a single grade at the end of the game to say how well you did, here you get a grade of between 1 and 3 stars for every single mission in the game! And with about twenty or third missions and extremely tough requirements for the best rating (you need to be fast, take no damage and collect a ton of cash all in one go), it’s yet another additional feature that WILL keep you coming back over and over again.
Above: Getting 3 stars on all missions is hard. As is finding all the gems. Heck, the fact this screen exists shows how much more replay value this game has compared to the first.
Oh, and there’s always the other nice ‘bonus’ in that you can return to earlier missions with all the equipment, items and powers you get later. It’s not some massive add on (as far as I know hidden rooms are quite rare in this game), but it does give you quite a few rewards if you can go back to the earlier Gloomy Mansion missions and use things like the Poltergust and Dark Light right off the bat.
The multiplayer is the other big thing here. Think you’ve seen and done it all because you’ve beaten all the missions and got everything? Think again, you’ve got the terrifying ScareScraper ahead of you!
Above: The ScareScraper, destroyer of many a Luigi’s Mansion 2 player or team…
First thing to keep in mind here is that the ScareScraper has a TON of options and game modes, as well as its own unique content and unlockables. You’ve got three different modes (Hunter, Rush and Polterpup), all of which offer their own challenges. You’ve then got options for anywhere between 5 and an infinite number of floors (the latter you need to unlock for each mode), a mode which mixes them all… and it’s entirely playable through both downloadable play and over the internet against friends and random strangers. Did I mention the floor plans are entirely randomised? Yeah, this mode has almost infinite replayability.
In addition to this, it’s also damn hard to boot. Think you can stroll through Hunter mode even on normal? Ha ha, you’ve got another think coming, even beating 10 floors on normal can be a challenge with the enemies it throws at you! And then every five or so floors gives you a brand new boss with about 3-600 health and an infinitely spawning army of minions to deal with. And these guys only show up in multiplayer and have to be ‘collected’, so you then have to play over and over just to find and take down extremely difficult monsters you’ll never see elsewhere. Then you’ve got other difficulties, like the near suicidal ‘Expert’ mode which can literally knock you dead in round 1. Oh wait, I forgot about the other modes too. Rush mode will destroy you through lack of time alone.
Above: Oh he looks easy. Then you see his 600 HP and army of minions…
With the ScareScraper, rankings, Boos, secret missions and gems, Luigi’s Mansion 2 has a ton of replay value to the point it makes the original look like a complete joke.
Some Minor Issues
There are however a few things the game does do wrong. What’s the first of these? Gyro controls.
Now usually, these are entirely irrelevant. Sure, you CAN aim the Poltergust 5000 with them, but the standard non gyro control scheme for this works so well you’ll never want to.
But the narrow rail crossing sections… are not that fun. They’re slow, they’re tedious, they’re used far more than this gameplay mechanic ever should have been used and quite honestly, I don’t think they’re that good in general. Still, just remember that you need to tilt the 3DS away from the direction Luigi is leaning to keep him on the narrow pole/wire, and you’ll get by them eventually.
Above: Many a player’s hell.
The other problem is this game is one of the most minor issues known to man, and it’s only really one if you’re revisiting older mansions to find Boos or other secrets. Basically, some rooms are locked off in these to keep you on the ‘normal’ path. What’s stranger is that this is extremely inconsistent, there’s no ‘practical’ way to know what rooms and paths you can explore and what ones you can’t in any mission. For example, in Gloomy Manor the basement lift is always locked outside of the boss mission… but the doors you reveal with the Dark Light and rooms behind webs aren’t. So wandering through the kitchen and dining room in mission 2? No problem. Going into the ‘secret’ passage accessed via the garden prior to mission 3 or 4? Fine. But then apparently going through the door IN the secret passage is impossible. Why? No clue, the game designers just decided that you couldn’t go there for some arbitary reason. It’s not a big deal (the level of ‘linearity’ in this game is generally on par with the original), but it might bug a few people used to being able to explore earlier/later areas at their leisure.
None the less, both of these are just minor issues in the greater scheme of things, and neither make Luigi’s Mansion 2 anything other than a fantastic game in general.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a fantastic game, as both a Luigi’s Mansion sequel and a 3DS title as a whole. If you liked the original game, you should be ready to buy this no questions asked. But even if you didn’t, or don’t normally buy these types of games, I will recommend you go out and purchase it right now, it’s that brilliant.
Luigi’s Mansion 2, as one of the best games on the 3DS as of this time, gets a score of…
Replay Value/Game Length
100% (even more so compared to original)
Note: This review was written based on the European/PAL version of Luigi’s Mansion 2, hence some things may not be 100% identical in the US one. This also explains why the game’s called Luigi’s Mansion 2 rather than Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.