The Average Gamer

Luigi’s Mansion 2 Preview (3DS)

Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a strange and gripping game of exploration and combat strategy. Not having played the original, I have no basis for comparison but I found the 15 minute demo at a Nintendo showcase very enjoyable.

You play Luigi, who has been sucked through a madman’s TV monitor and into a haunted mansion. The madman in question is Professor E. Gadd (ho, ho, ho) who kindly provides you with a Poltergust 5000 or, as we would know it, a vacuum cleaner. Sure, a vacuum cleaner that straps to your back and has a seemingly endless capacity but a vacuum cleaner nonetheless.

Much of the game involves looking for things that move or sparkle and sucking them into your Poltergust. In 15 minutes I managed to capture 4 cobwebs, $500 worth of money, 3 live rats, 2 tablecloths, a curtain and a whole bunch of ghosts. No word on whether the rats survive in there but I like to think of it as a humane trap.

The real fun lies with the ghosts. You’ll start out with fairly simple ones just requiring you to stun them with your strobe light and then suck them in. Exploring areas that you’re not supposed to will result in staircases folding up or sprite gates clanging down on you and generate more powerful ghosts to capture. The stronger ones will struggle against your mighty suction power and drag you around the room. Be careful not to get dragged into the furniture or you’ll lose your balance and the ghost will escape. Even worse, it will likely turn invisible and pounce on you from behind. That delicious, yet nervous anticipation of their return is something I haven’t felt while playing a game in years. Where most games have you on watch for enemies who will kill you dead and put you through the tedious death-animation-plus-reload sequence, Luigi’s Mansion 2 feels like light entertainment but with an underlying complexity.

As you progress through the mansion the ghosts get smarter, arming themselves with frying pan shields to block your strobe and saucepan helmets to… well, mainly to look cute. You’ll swiftly find that you need to apply some tactics to manage the different types of ghost that share a room. The ghosts themselves are an adorable bit of character design. The look of dismay on their little ghostly faces when you sidestep their attacks is very satisfying.

Since this is a 3DS game, the system’s unique features are present. The 3D is nicely subtle – just adds a bit of depth onto each room, with only the occasional torch beam or ghost attempting to poke you in the eye. One rather pointless hindrance is that you can use tilt sensor to look up or down for coins and other goodies hiding in the rafters. On a handheld with a 3D movement window of approximately 1 inch, why in God’s name would you ask players to tilt the thing around to fully explore a room? It’s all right though, you can use the D-pad to accomplish the same thing.

In only 15 minutes Luigi’s Mansion 2 had me hooked. As long as the variety of ghosts and long-leggity beasties continues, this will be a great game. There are plenty of curtains and tablecloths to hoover up, keeping an explorer like me happy and the cutesy exterior disguise a properly strategic experience. Based on the demo, I would definitely buy this game. If I had a 3DS.

I’m almost tempted.