Luigi’s Mansion 2 looks to Metroid and Zelda for its handheld debut

Luigi’s Mansion 2 (AKA Dark Moon in North America) is the game 3DS was born to play, or so Nintendo would have us believe. As revealed in an Iwata Asks session with original Luigi’s Mansion director Hideki Konno, the handheld owes a debt to his prototype for a stereoscopic LCD add-on for GameCube, which was paired with a 3D version of his spook-hunting game.

Entering the first of five new mansions, Ghastly Manor, it’s easy to see the attraction of marrying this series with 3D. The game is viewed in cross section, and pushing up the 3DS’s depth slider sees rooms sink back into the murk, offering the sense of peeking into a peculiarly Gothic dollhouse. Combined with subtle gyroscope use to gently tilt the rooms, it rekindles 3DS’s initial capacity to wow.

This is a smart handheld update in many ways. The loss of GameCube’s second analogue stick – used to aim Luigi’s torch – has been counteracted by giving combat an arcade-like punch. Luigi now exposes spectres’ vulnerable hearts with a strobe light; the longer you charge, the wider the area of attack, drumming up nice risk/reward tension during busier encounters. And while reeling in ghosts with the Poltergust 5000 is still a tug of war, there’s a new Tension gauge in play, which enhances the first game’s trick of yanking in the opposite direction to a spook to get a burst of power and a better reward.

Ghost encounters become fast and furious for it, though some players might miss the more cerebral encounters with the first game’s portrait ghosts. But while there are fewer standout characters, the general foot soldiers have been injected with as much life as ghosts can have. Some hide in the furniture, giving themselves away with a drawer-rattling giggle. Others negate Luigi’s strobe with sunglasses that must be sucked from their faces. Some even build makeshift armour from pots and pans, and stripping them bare litters the floor with culinary debris that can become lodged in the Poltergust’s nozzle. In short, combat is two parts punching to one part punchline.

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