And what better way to kick off the festivities than with a sequel to Luigi's most important gaming adventure to date? Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon may be a 3DS title, but it has clearly been developed to offer an entertaining action-adventure experience to mirror that of original GameCube classic. The end result is a worthy and authentic follow-up, and one of the finest titles we've seen yet on the system.
Having more than one location to explore is a big plus, and it goes a long way towards keeping the experience fresh throughout. Each area presents new challenges — many of which require you to think outside of the box — and you're constantly given varied objectives to complete. This is further complemented by the game's combat sections, which are surprisingly challenging at times. Busting ghosts sounds simple enough: stun them with your Strobulb and then give them a good hoovering. However, some of the pesky ghouls come armed with an array of weapons and defences (such as sunglasses), while others are just incredibly tough. The boss ghost battles are inventive, often requiring you to resort to logic in order to win the day; in this regard, it's a great blast from start to finish and there's never a dull moment.
For those that prefer it, there's the option of gyro controls for aiming up and down, although this will cause you to lose the sweet spot if playing in 3D. Annoyingly, motion control is shoehorned into a few minor parts of the game; when walking across ceiling beams, for example, you have to tilt the system to keep your balance. It's a bit confusing because this isn't made very clear when you first come across it. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between, and they don't impact on your overall enjoyment of the game too much.
In fact, exploration is a key element of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Each location is stuffed full of cash, gems and other collectibles, and only the most eagle-eyed player will spot everything; finding every last coin is by no means mandatory, and you can stroll through the game at a relatively quick pace should you wish. However, those that invest more time into this aspect of the game will likely find the experience much more rewarding.
This is because the game uses an upgrade system. Throughout, Luigi is presented with cash targets, where upon achieving them unlocks a handy upgrade. These bolster your equipment, the most vital being the Poltergust 5000 upgrades that greatly enhance its power. While you can technically complete the game without these upgrades, the system is just another nice inclusion that really motivates you to explore everything.
Polterpup is inspired by some of the single-player stages, and it requires players to use their Dark-Light devices to track down pesky ghost dogs that are hiding inside furniture and objects on each floor. This mode works better in local play, as teamwork is key, and the game's preset phrases for communicating with other players are awfully limited. Finally, Rush mode lives up to its name, as the goal here is to find a hatch (containing a chest) before the timer runs out. The time allocated for this is remarkably short, and it's certainly a lot tougher with a smaller number of players; this last mode is a nice diversion, but it probably won't hold your interest for as long as the others, if only because the experience doesn't really evolve into anything more challenging as you climb the tower.