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Luigi’s Mansion 3DS Review

You’ve got to feel sorry for Luigi a little bit. It was not so long ago that they announced the ‘Year of Luigi’, and all he really got was a sequel to the one game that he actually starred in. Well, the time has come to throw Mario’s younger, less successful little brother another bone with a remake of Luigi’s Mansion on 3DS.

Luigi’s Mansion was originally released in 2001 on the GameCube and starred everyone’s favourite green-clad plumber in an adventure through a spooky haunted mansion where he had to rescue his brother from the ghostly inhabitants. The original game was both developed and published in-house by Nintendo, but the new 3DS remake has been done by Grezzo, a company famous for The Legend of Zelda 3DS ports from a few years ago.

The story of Luigi’s Mansion is that same story that all games starring Luigi seem to have, or at least most of them. Luigi has won a free mansion in a competition that he doesn’t remember entering, so of course, he goes to this place alone like a smart person. When he arrives there, he discovers that not only is the mansion haunted, but Mario has gone missing in the walls within, and now it’s up to you to clear out all of the ghosts and save your brother before he becomes ghost chow.

It’s sort of hard to quantify the genre of Luigi’s Mansion a little bit. It’s not a 3D platformer as there is no particular jumping or climbing involved. It features a lot of puzzle solving and adventure-style gameplay, but most of the time it’s basically like a Ghostbusters simulator as you spend your time hoovering up ghosts. You also spend a lot of your time exploring a mansion which is basically like a dungeon from The Legend of Zelda with a horror theme, so I suppose the best way to describe the genre for this game would be to call it an adventure-dungeon crawler.

The gameplay is pretty simple in Luigi’s Mansion, but that doesn’t mean that the game is necessarily too easy. You move around with the thumbstick and have access to a special ghost hoover that you can use to suck up ghosts. You also have a bunch of special abilities, like spraying different elements out at special ghosts, a camera that can give you hints on how to capture special ones and a torch used to make certain enemies vulnerable.

At first, things start off pretty simply. You explore the available rooms until you find a ghost or a key and then unlock more doors and hunt down more ghosts and keys. Things don’t stay that simple for long, however. Other than the normal enemies that can be simply flashed with your torch and then sucked into your hoover, there are special enemies that usually require you to solve a small puzzle to be able to damage them. To aid you in this, your special camera can be used to read the mind of the ghost and give you a clue to their hidden weakness.

A lot of the time in Luigi’s Mansion, it’s pretty simple to figure out what you need to do to beat the boss ghosts. For instance, the ghost that talks about light and is carrying a candle stick can be taken down by lighting his candles, which he seems pretty scared of for some reason. That isn’t to say that they’re all pushovers, however. One particularly hungry ghost is a right pain in the posterior. You can get him past his passive stage into the fight pretty easily, but afterwards, it becomes a huge flame-filled mind freak.

Between ghost hunts, you return to the hub area where you can look at all the special ghosts you’ve captured, as well as save and go on incursions back out into the creepy house. New for the 3DS version of the game is the ability to take on the ghosts in co-op, which is a nice touch for certain. It makes some of the trickier ghosts a bit easier to handle and provides them with more targets to spread their aggression across.

Some of the other changes for the 3DS version of Luigi’s Mansion are less welcome. For some reason, they decided to include the forced motion controls from the original game’s sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and they’re still completely annoying here too. To control the up and down motion of your various gadgets, you move the 3DS itself up and down using the gyroscope inside the handheld. The problem is that you then have to keep it deathly still if you don’t want to entirely miss the mark on a ghost. If you own the new 3DS or the Circle Pad Pro, you can use the right stick to control these movements instead, but since you can’t turn off the motion controls at all, you’re more than likely going to find this to be more of a pain than it’s worth.

These new motion controls for the game take getting used to, but it can be done. Honestly, it’s just such a shame that there is no way of disabling these controls, because if you’re someone who prefers a normal control method over gimmicky crap, then you’re completely screwed. Of course, it doesn’t help things if you’re the sort of person who hasn’t calibrated the camera tracking in forever either.

Motion controls aside, Luigi’s Mansion at least looks like a good remake. The graphics have had a bit of an upgrade from the GameCube graphics to be more inline with the sort of quality you’d expect from the 3DS. It’s not easy to tell, but it’s possible that they just remade Luigi’s Mansion in the same engine and graphics modes as Dark Moon; either that or they did a very good job of tidying up those decade-plus-old visuals.

Petty annoyances do mar the port somewhat, but that doesn’t make it bad. After a few hours, you’ll probably stop noticing them until they really get in your way. The game is still pretty damn short at about 7 hours long, but with the new co-op mode, you might get some fun out of playing it again with a friend, but it’s doubtful that you’ll want to play the whole thing through a second time, at least not straightaway. The co-op feels much better suited for jump-in sessions instead of entire playthroughs, although since you’ll need to have a friend with their own 3DS and their own copy of the game as well, it’s unlikely that most people who aren’t still in school will be able to pull off the co-op for very long.

Developer: Grezzo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platforms: 3DS

Release Date: 19th October 2018

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