Glimpse of the Other

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Spoiler-Free Review of Luigi’s Mansion 2


Even though this 3DS game is a direct sequel, it isn’t necessary to have played the original Luigi’s Mansion on GameCube, as the storyline is completely self-contained.

If you’ve been following Satoru Iwata and co’s Nintendo Direct presentations on 3DS’ eShop, you will know that it certainly is the “Year of Luigi.” Luigi’s Mansion 2 is one of a number of games released in 2013 where Mario’s younger brother steps into the limelight. And does he deliver? Absolutely!

The first thing you’ll notice is the graphics: they are a delight. The 3D effect is beautiful, especially when turned up to maximum, and even more so when viewed on a 3DS XL. The sound effects are brilliant and just perfect, and the music is always atmospheric and catchy.

Gameplay is intuitive and simple to get to grips with, so I’m sure even novice gamers would have no problem learning the ropes. The game is mostly played using the buttons but there are times when you’ll need the stylus, too. The game also makes use of stereoscopic mode where you move the 3DS to look around you, for example. Flipping between the different control methods is seamless and never feels awkward or like a chore. The L and R shoulder buttons control your primary weapon, the Poltergust vaccuum: R to vaccuum up, L to blow items away. The face buttons allow you to run, jump, dodge enemies, and access different functions on the Poltergust, some of which you unlock as you progress through the game. Experiment using the vaccuum on different items around you, as there are lots of hidden goodies to find in each stage.

LM2 controls screencap

The learning curve is smooth. Once you get to the first Boss, you’ll have picked up plenty of tricks along the way, so you’ll be ready to take him on. That’s not to say the Bosses aren’t challenging, however. You’ll need your wits about you to beat them. But most importantly, you’ll have a huge amount of fun doing so. Even when it gets tough, as Boss battles generally do, the game never feels unfair or unbalanced. On the contrary, you’ll feel eager to keep trying until you can overcome all the challenges the game throws at you.

You are graded on how well you did, on things such as the time you took to complete the mission, how many ghosts you captured, how much damage you took and so on. Star rankings increase replay value, and it’s definitely worth your time collecting all the gems (but I won’t spoil it by saying why).

It’s not a major gripe but I did find it annoying that you can’t choose when your mission ends. Once you’ve completed the mission objective, you will be abruptly returned to the central hub area. If there were rooms you wished to explore but didn’t get the chance to yet, you’ll have to replay that level and complete the mission all over again – which can be a bit of a pain on a tricky or lengthy to complete stage.

In some of the later stages, since you can’t save in the middle of a mission and pick up from where you left off, playing in short bursts generally isn’t possible, as some of the later missions can take a while to complete (e.g. thirty minutes or more), especially on your first play through, because you’ll be taking your time simply exploring a new area. You can of course suspend the game and place your 3DS in standby mode, but that means you can’t open other software in the meantime, like Mii Plaza for example, without losing your progress in the game.

I would love to be able to play Luigi’s Mansion 2 on my ten-minute breaks at work but it simply isn’t possible for me. It would’ve been welcome, and incredibly useful, to have a ‘quick save’ feature like in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow on DS which saved your progress even when you weren’t anywhere near a designated Save Room. This meant you could quit the game and pick up from the exact point where you left off when you next loaded the game. For a handheld title to lack such a feature is a big let-down.

Furthermore (as far as I’m aware), you can’t back up your progress because although you get three save files, bizarrely, you can’t copy between them, only delete them. So, a rather pointless feature unless there are three people sharing one copy of the game. I would be happy if someone could prove me wrong on that aspect, however! (I don’t know if this feature matters to many people besides me – but I get a bit obsessive about saving and backing up my games.)

Now, on to the multiplayer feature. This is unlocked as you progress through the single player mode. This feature is very generous, as it gives you the choice of co-op ghost-hunting with nearby friends who have their own copy of the game, or a limited version acquired via Download Play, as well as online, where you can connect to Nintendo Network and play with others worldwide or those on your Friend List.

I can’t comment on all the modes but so far I’ve played the limited version with a friend (in the same room) who doesn’t have his own copy, and it didn’t feel limited or lacking in features at all. I’ve also played online against my brother who lives miles away from me (and has his own copy), as well as with him in the same room, and that took the fun to a whole new level. The connection time was fast, there was no lag and the gameplay was smooth and fluid in both cases.

So, to sum up:

As the hero of this game, Luigi gets a chance to really shine. His reactions and facial expressions are pure comedy genius. This game will have you smiling and unable to tear yourself away. The script is sparkling with humour at every turn. In short, this game is fun, (and very funny), hugely entertaining and easy to get to grips with. It has something for novices and experienced gamers alike.

Despite the few minor issues I mentioned, I can’t recommend this game highly enough. It is an absolute must-buy for every 3DS owner. In fact, I would even say it’s worth buying a 3DS for, because the system has plenty of other quality games that are also well worth your time, so do yourself a favour in the Year of Luigi and grab a piece of the fun. You won’t regret it.

NOTE: I purchased this game from Tesco, and this is an updated version of the review I originally posted on its website.



  1. The game is definitely on my to buy list. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. That seems to be the general consensus from what I have gathered.

    Sadly my L sorta doesn’t work on my 3DS so… that is obnoxious. I’m hoping that if I keep blowing into it and trying to wipe it with my toothbrush, that one day it will work perfectly again. Something tells me that you can’t play this game without an L. Is there a button config in the game to switch around buttons?


    • I feel your pain; I had the same problem with both the L and R buttons in my DS Lite. It was an intermittent issue (and super annoying in Mario Kart) but the buttons somehow fixed themselves eventually?!

      I never looked at the controls before because the existing scheme is so intuitive, but I just now checked, and sadly it’s not possible to change the button config 😦 (I also edited this post to include a screencap of the controls). I think this is a huge oversight, just like not being able to quick save or copy save files.

      I’m probably about halfway through the game and so far I haven’t needed to use the L anywhere near as much as R. It’d be a real shame to miss out on the game because of it, but have you tried an actual vacuum on it? I’m being completely serious here 🙂 In my experience those mini USB vacuum cleaners are utterly useless, but you could try aiming a regular vacuum cleaner pipe on it, or what about a can of compressed air? They usually come with a thin plastic straw which you can attach to the nozzle to fine tune the spray. If none of that works it’s probably worthwhile sending your 3DS off to Nintendo. Good luck!

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