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E3 2011: Luigi's Mansion 2 hands-on preview

When Nintendo’s E3 press conference entered the 3DS section of new game announcements, a sequel to a mostly forgotten GameCube launch game was pretty low on our list of possibilities. A new F-Zero? Maybe. Another Wave Race? Conceivable. Even another Earthbound seemed more likely than Luigi’s Mansion 2. Yet there it was and just a couple days later we got our hands on the unexpected sequel and were pretty impressed.


The format of our 20 minute long demo was fairly similar to the almost decade old classic. After scaredy-cat Luigi ends up in a haunted mansion, he meets up with Professor E. Gadd, and the odd inventor gives Luigi his repurposed vacuum cleaner, this time the upgraded Poltergust 5000. It’s specially made for sucking up ghosts, which is good because Luigi needs to explore a series of ghost-filled mansions and catch ‘em all, but in a spookier way than Pokemon.

Luigi teleports between Gadd’s lab and the haunting houses using surveillance cameras that digitize and transport Weegee as if he were in Tron. As we took our first steps toward the dimly lit abode, we appreciated how well the team animated Luigi, as each tentative, shaky step communicated how filled with fear the unlikely hero is. When the camera zooms in on Luigi opening a new door, you clearly see a surprising amount of detail in his cartoony design, with graphics easily comparable to the GC original, though that may not sound like much of a complement.

After finding the first of two doors locked, we headed into the open room and tested out the Poltergust’s abilities as the lights flickered. We sucked up coins that were hiding in every nook and cranny of the room, occasionally finding dollar bills as well (we couldn’t get any clarification on what was the functional difference between those two currencies, but you wanted to collect all you can of both). After sucking up and tearing off a sheet covering a treasure chest, we found the all-important key. Just as we thought we’d leave the room safely, surprise, surprise, our first ghost appears on the scene.

After closing off the door, the ghost chased us around while we found our bearings. Soon we recalled that first the offending specter needed to be stunned by the flashlight, so we switched on the strobe with the A button. Once the ghoul was dazed, we turned on the vacuum, inhaling the ghost in a whirlwind. As it struggled, LM2 basically became a fishing game, with Luigi being pulled around by the ghost and us pushing the thumb stick in the opposite direction. After whittling down the ghost’s initial HP of 10 down to zero, we totally engulfed him in the Poltergust 5000, effectively clearing the room.

As we moved through the initial areas it dawned on us just what a good fit Luigi’s Mansion is for Nintendo’s 3D portable. Every room in LM2 is designed for a static camera to pan across the frame as Luigi searches a room. By keeping the camera in place, the 3D can be used to deepen the room and enhance the visuals, which is a less gimmicky approach to the feature. It helps the rooms feel unique as you search every item and surface to find another secret. Speaking of 3DS features, you control where Luigi points the Poltergust while in suck mode by subtly titling the system, and it was one of the better uses of that control scheme that we've seen, mostly thanks to little you have to move the handheld.

After an exhilarating race down a hallway full of haunted armor, we hit a few more rooms and ran into some tougher ghosts. One used pots and pans to block our flashlight, while other ghosts were simply tougher with more HP and took more stunning and inhaling to finish off. Soon enough we reached the demo’s boss, a brainy ghost, and by brainy, we mean he had a giant ghost head.

Like much of the combat in the demo, the final battle came down to timing and figuring out a simple visual puzzle, this time trapping the intermittently-invisible ghost by whichever stack of books he was reading. After a lengthy skirmish involving the lily-livered Luigi getting pulled around the room a half dozen times, the apparition was caught and the demo complete, though we’d have happily continued. Playing through it reminded us of why we enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion in the first place: it has its own distinct flavor within the Mario series, interesting puzzles, cute easter eggs scattered about, and a fun collection of G-rated scares. When Luigi’s Mansion 2 hits 3DS next year, maybe the green one will at last have a marquee franchise of his very own.

Jun 10, 2011

26 comments

  • smallfry22 - November 23, 2011 2:31 a.m.

    This looks like a ton of fun, I for one can't wait
  • EnragedTortoise1 - June 13, 2011 2:26 p.m.

    I know it's kind of insulting to Luigi for him to be portrayed as kind of a pussy in this, but still. It's Luigi's Mansion 2. I. Can't. Wait.
  • Strangleme - June 13, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    I am so looking forward to this. I loved the first Luigi's mansion.
  • Yeager1122 - June 12, 2011 4:45 p.m.

    This is great another good game to buy for the 3ds.
  • Spybreak8 - June 12, 2011 4:22 a.m.

    Yeah I missed the outing of the first game since I decided on getting an Xbox over Gamecube but I'm interested in playing the sequel on 3DS.
  • shawksta - June 12, 2011 4 a.m.

    I just realized, The Mario bros. are starring in their own games for the 3DS, shown fully at the same time Henry highligh this shit!
  • 510BrotherPanda - June 12, 2011 3:04 a.m.

    I really enjoyed the gameplay and lighting effects of the first one, but I still HATE HATE HATE Nintendo for keeping Luigi's characterization like this... also, why isn't this game going to be on the Wii U instead? The lighting effects and ornate mansions would probably benefit much, much more than with just the 3D. Sorry Henry, I'm an avid Luigi supporter; screw Mario and his princess-saving addiction. reCAPTCHA: spirit resoper Hmm, it KNOWS this is a ghost article???
  • Aletheon - June 12, 2011 12:58 a.m.

    I loved the original Luigi's Mansion. This title already looks like a huge improvement. I can't wait!
  • ThatGuyFromTV - June 12, 2011 12:13 a.m.

    I figured out what was bothering me about this game; the font on the numbers for HP doesn't seem to fit Luigi's Mansion. Being a huge nitpicker here, but this is annoying the hell out of me, please change the font to something more like the original. Make it thinner or look more frail or something, I dunno.
  • shawksta - June 12, 2011 12:09 a.m.

    You dont know how happy i got when weegee appeared with his vac in that augmened reality movie and then having reggie confirm it, finally weegee is given a second chance!
  • shawksta - June 12, 2011 12:06 a.m.

    Wow, just today I was pondering on why you havnt posted this hands on yet. I cant wait for this however some ghost models seem lazy, specifically that green one but we'll see if they edit him or if i can get used to him. That big head ghost seems great, I hope ghosts that work like the portrait ghosts from the original appear, thats what made it special. This games gonna be awesome! @chrisat928 Nobody said it was bad, it just got allot of negative feelings because it popped up out of nowhere as a gamcube lauch title instead of a mario game like the N64
  • sirdilznik - June 11, 2011 10:58 p.m.

    This announcement made me all kinds of happy. The first Mansion was always supposed to be in 3D but the technology was just not viable at that time. This time they can do it in 3D.
  • MySistersMenstruationTastesFunny - June 11, 2011 10:25 p.m.

    Yeah, it was my #2 on GCN right behind Tales of Symphonia.
  • hughesta - June 11, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    Luigi's Mansion was always good. One of the best Gamecube games, and in my top ten all time list.
  • chrisat928 - June 11, 2011 8:45 p.m.

    Wait... People are now saying Luigi's Mansion was good?
  • losthero15 - June 11, 2011 8:43 p.m.

    I'm hoping that some of the newer ghost from the main mario series jump over to this game, like the ghosts with boxing gloves from new super mario bros wii, and the rock ghost boss(I don't remember his name) from galaxy 1
  • Zanthis - June 11, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    I am so excited. I loved the first and this seems to be an improvement. Thanks Nintendo
  • geneticallyalteredsupergiraffeejaculatinggrenades - June 11, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    I enjoyed the first game, and I'm loking forward to this one.
  • The_Tingler - June 11, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    Oh, and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wYi8B9PXDY
  • The_Tingler - June 11, 2011 7:17 p.m.

    Even more important Henry: does he whistle, getting more nervous as his health goes down? That was the thing I loved the most about the first game. I must admit I'm disappointed the catchy music seems different and just not as catchy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4NacgK1De4

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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