Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon ha all the hallmarks of classic Nintendo game design, which makes it all the more surprising that the game has been made by an external development team. What really makes Dark Moon not just great but truly lovable, though, is the care and attention that has gone into every aspect. Luigi, for instance, is a beautifully realised character, half-paralysed by fear and twitching at every noise.
His whimpers and nervous humming play a great part in creating the game’s atmosphere. The same goes for every ghost, each one showing the same sort of personality that you used to see in the spooks portrayed in a classic Disney or Warner Bros. cartoon.
The locations are bursting with atmospheric detail, and the music and sound effects all play their part. Dark Moon even does the impossible by making 3D seem like an essential part of the experience. You can play the game perfectly well with the slider turned down, but these creepy rooms and fleeting spirits deserve to be seen on a screen with depth.
On top of the lengthy single-player mode, Dark Moon throws in a four-player multiplayer mode that's playable online and through local Wi-Fi or download play. The action takes place in a randomised Thrill Tower, with ghost-hunting, pup-chasing and find-the-exit modes. It’s fun in short doses, but no match for the main adventure, or the competitive Luigi’s Ghost Mansion game found in NintendoLand on the Wii U.
People like to say that handheld gaming consoles are dying, but Dark Moon shows that there’s always room for Nintendo’s games and Nintendo’s budgets in the field. Dark Moon is as fully-realised as any big home console game, and simply a joy to play and explore. If you have a 3DS then buy it, and if you haven’t then this is one more good reason to rectify that mistake.
Luigi’s Mansion 2 doesn’t just revamp its Gamecube prequel for the 3DS, but explores the undiscovered potential in the original idea. The result is a brilliant ghost-busting bonanza, with superbly spooky locations, inventive gameplay and beautiful 3D presentation. Luigi should be proud: he’s the star of a genuine 3DS must-have, and one of the finest games that Nintendo has put out in recent years.
Read more: Best games of 2013