Luigi’s Mansion 2 was one of the few surprise software announcements from Nintendo at this year’s E3, so I had to make sure I got a play session with the game. The original was an excellent showcase of the GameCube’s graphical and dual-analog capabilities and pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons, but how does the 3DS sequel compare? Follow me inside one of Luigi’s mansions to find out.

Unlike Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3D, I only got a chance to play part of one level of Luigi’s Mansion 2. That’s okay, though – it was still enough to get the basics across.

LM3D 6.jpgLuigi will once again be teaming up with the wizened Professor E. Gadd to vacuum up all the ghosts haunting the various mansions (yes, that’s plural you’re reading). You start off the demo in E. Gadd’s lab and he prepares to send you to one of the haunted houses via some kind of digitization process that wasn’t really explained. Once you reach the vicinity, you climb up a hill towards the front door. That’s where the real demo begins.

Nintendo’s really nailed the atmosphere in this one. Everything from the weather effects to the lighting to the sounds and music fits the whole “haunting” vibe to a T. And the mansion itself: I can’t say it creeps me out or anything – haunted houses don’t really do it for me – but it’s as iconic and well-executed as the one from the original. Flowing fountains, heaps of books and other objects scattered about the floor, cobwebs, broken fixtures, and the like – it’s all here, and it all looks great on the 3DS, even in 3D.

LM3D 7.jpgThe premise is essentially identical to the original: head around these eerie halls in search of ghosts and money. (Apparently in Luigi Land the two go together hand in hand.) You use your Poltergust 3000 vacuum (patent pending) to suck both up. Its suction can grab coins and paper bills from faraway and hard-to-reach spots. But wait – didn’t you have to use the second analog stick in the original game to aim your vacuum? This time, aiming is primarily controlled via the gyroscope’s tilt function, but you can also point up quickly at the press of a button. Just like in Mario 3D, you’ll have to hold down a button if you want to run faster – no biggie really, but one would think that with something like the Circle Pad it wouldn’t be necessary.

Ghosts are a little more complicated – before you can suck them up, you have to stun them with a flash of light. In the original Luigi’s Mansion, you accomplished this by catching them in your flashlight’s beam when they had their guard down. Now you’ll need to work a little harder – use your flashlight’s strobe effect, which you have to charge with the A button, to turn a ghost solid, giving you your opening to let the Poltergust go wild! At that point it’s a simple – or in some cases, not so simple – matter of chasing the ghost around the room as it tries to escape and draining its life until it can’t struggle any longer.

LM3D 11.jpgSome spirits put up more of a fight than others. The typical greenish ghosts were easy, but a meaner red bully-like version was a bit more aggressive. If one of them gives you too much trouble, you’ll get the chance to zap them with a bolt of electricity at intervals to put them in their place. Of course, there are also elite boss ghosts that require diligent attention to their unique patterns and behaviors. They weren’t quite as prominently featured in this demo, but I imagine they’ll get more of a spotlight in the final game, which won’t have the same time limit constraints.

Beyond that – the mansion is your playground. Explore whatever rooms you like, but be aware that some will be locked, forcing you to hunt down keys. Keeping a close eye on your surroundings is key (heh, get it?) if you want to progress. Every environmental feature, from a tablecloth to a mirror to a small decorative table in the corner of the room, could be the trigger for the next puzzle or a hiding place for ghosts. This game actually does somewhat take advantage of the 3D feature in terms of gameplay, since most of these fixtures get displayed in 3D, making them easier to spot.

It’s this attention to the 3D effect that makes this game stand out from the rest of the 3DS lineup. Sure, we see Ocarina of Time in a whole new way once you add the depth of the 3D screen (why, yes, I did get a chance to play it on the show floor! expect my impressions soon), and some people may benefit from it in Super Mario 3D (I’m not one of them), but this is the first Nintendo-built game where it really feels like it counts for something. Sure, it’s not the Ye Olde Moste Groundbreaking feature ever, and I’m certainly not gonna say this is the most impressive 3DS game on the floor or anything, but it’s a step in the right direction.

So, in the end, we get a worthy sequel to one of the best original IP launch titles for any Nintendo console that continues and in some ways even improves on its predecessor. And it’s on a handheld – a 3D capable handheld at that. What more could you ask for? For it to be released tomorrow, of course.

As with all my other hands-on impressions articles, feel free to shoot me an email at alex@zeldadungeon.net or leave a comment with any questions or concerns and I’ll try to address them as best I can. Be advised that there’s a lot less for me to say about this one than for Super Mario 3D or Skyward Sword since as a sequel this game’s not nearly as different or new in comparison and therefore it doesn’t show off quite as much. As I said, though – I’ll definitely do my best.

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