Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review – Back From The Dead

Despite kicking off Nintendo’s fourth-generation console with a starring role in Luigi’s Mansion on GameCube, Luigi’s sequel always felt a little relegated. He was downgraded to the handheld platform, but it wasn’t because he delivered a bad game. The video game formerly known as Dark Moon has always maintained a positive reputation, but after the success of Luigi’s Mansion 3 on Switch, it felt like part two missed its time to shine. Thankfully, Nintendo and Next Level Games have brought it to console, and while it’s not without its formerly-a-3DS-game quirks, there’s no reason to skip this entry in the trilogy.

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Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD looks good, but compared to recent Nintendo Switch upgrades like Metroid Prime and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the visuals are lacking. The game has been smoothed out and looks sharp, but this is not an overhaul job. The lighting and effects are perfunctory, but the animation (which has always been a Luigi’s Mansion highlight) remains exceptional. Watching Luigi cower and shake as he sneaks around and gets surprised by ghosts is always entertaining and effective.

Walking around and sucking up ghosts, cobwebs, and money is a simple joy, even if I never was fully comfortable with the controls. Exploring is also frequently clever and charming. Stairways turn into ramps, hallways turn into conveyor belts, and rooms shift and grow unexpectedly. Each of the houses feels like you’re entering a new Haunted Mansion Disney ride, and I appreciate that they each have their own distinct style and themes.

Where the game reminds most of its previous platform is in its momentum – or lack thereof. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was designed to be played in short stints, so you are frequently “pixelated” out of a mansion before you’ve fully explored it. I often wanted to do more before leaving or just stay in the building to pursue the next big goal, but that choice isn’t up to the player.

Also, as cute as Polterpup is, I didn’t enjoy the missions where I had to track him down. Each of the Mansions is labyrinthian by design, and trying to sprint through them in a winding path to find the dog just isn’t as enjoyable as taking a leisurely stroll, solving puzzles, and jumping in the air when a ghost appears out of nowhere.

The online multiplayer ScareScraper mode returns but must be unlocked through regular play, which is annoying. I understand encouraging the player to learn the ropes before jumping online, but it’s an unnecessary hurdle when trying to rope in friends. Outside of that frustration, however, the mode is fun, and your progress feeds into your upgrades across the game as a whole. It makes you feel like you are working toward a singular goal no matter where you’re hunting ghosts. Working together as different Luigis in various Mansions is fast-paced and just the right amount of intense. Typically, I feel no shame in ignoring modes like this in comparable games, but I am glad I spent time with it here.

I am a big 3DS fan, but I am grateful to have Luigi’s Mansion 2 on the Switch. Dropping the Dark Moon subtitle and giving it a number also feels like a specific choice to make sure this game is fully recognized as part of the Luigi’s Mansion canon, which it fully deserves to be. This HD version is not a radical reinvention of the handheld game, but it’s a well-executed port of an experience that always deserved a little more.

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