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Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD gives a 3DS classic the treatment it deserves

E. Gadd and Luigi talk in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

I got into Nintendo games during an era that’s considered to be the company’s weakest. In retrospect, the 3DS and Wii U era was poor for Nintendo, serving as a low point between the successes of the Wii and Switch. Despite that, this is when I went all-in on playing almost every new Nintendo game after getting both a 3DS and Wii U. And looking back, Nintendo was still putting out some great games during this era. One such title was Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, a sequel to a GameCube launch title that took the series to portables and added 3D. It was the flagship game in the now infamous “Year of Luigi” and positioned the series for success with Luigi’s Mansion 3.

Ahead of an end-of-generation blowout for Switch, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is getting rereleased as Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD. I’ve been replaying the game on Switch over the past couple of weeks and comparing it to my time with the 3DS version. It’s less robust of a refurbishment than the one Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door received last month, but if you skipped out on the 3DS era of Nintendo and never checked Dark Moon out, then Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is worth your attention — especially now that it’s no longer possible to easily get the original.

Bite-sized ghosts

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD follows Luigi as he recovers pieces of the Dark Moon that gave the 3DS game its namesake. The McGuffin kept ghosts calm, but that peace ended when King Boo shattered it. Professor E. Gadd recruits Luigi (somewhat against his will) to explore the mansion, capture ghosts with an upgraded Poltergust 5000, and recover pieces of the Dark Moon. While the original Luigi’s Mansion was all set in one mansion, this sequel was designed for a handheld platform, so its structure is a lot more segmented.

Luigi sucks up a ghost in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

There are five different mansions to explore across several levels, each of which has its own specific objectives and modifies the look of the mansion in unique ways. This approach is somewhat divisive for Luigi’s Mansion fans as it means the package starts and stops a lot, especially early on. I like it personally, as it allows me to quickly play a level or two, put the game down, and come back later while still making me feel like I made meaningful progress. Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD feels best to play in handheld mode for that reason.

On top of the single-player adventure, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD also features a cooperative multiplayer mode called ScareScraper, which tasks teams with completing objectives and catching ghosts as they make their way up the floors of a tower. It’s a surprisingly entertaining and underrated part of the original.

While we’ve been spoiled with remakes of Super Mario RPG, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door over the past year, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD isn’t quite at that level. It’s more of an HD port using the original assets rather than a full-on remake or remaster, as nebulous as all of those terms are. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was already one of the best-looking games on 3DS, so it’s now possible to appreciate its excellent art and visuals on an HD screen rather than a 240p one. The gorgeous Luigi’s Mansion 3 naturally overshadows it, but this HD port doesn’t look too shabby for something that came out on an underpowered gaming handheld in 2013. It leaves me wishing the original Luigi’s Mansion’s 3DS port got the same treatment.

There are also a couple of small gameplay improvements I appreciate here. It’s as satisfying as ever to stun ghosts and then suck them into the Poltergust 5000. Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD adds HD Rumble and lets players use the right stick to help aim the Poltergust more intricately. We’ve come a long way from Nintendo not letting Dark Moon support the 3DS’ Circle Pad Pro because it “didn’t add anything.” Additionally, the shuttering of the 3DS eShop and its online services means it is significantly harder to play ScareScraper with others on 3DS nowadays. With solid online netcode and online matchmaking, ScareScraper possibly got the most love out of any part of this port.

ScareScraper gameplay from Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

Everything you need to know about Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is right there in the title — it’s an HD refurbishment of a 3DS game deserving of new life on one of Nintendo’s most popular systems ever. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon still holds up if you’re fine with its level-based approach, but it’s ultimately up to you if HD is enough to warrant a revisit.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD launches for Nintendo Switch on June 27.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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