To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD review: a ghoulishly great time gobbling up ghosts

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD review: a ghoulishly great time gobbling up ghosts

It's great to be back in the mansion

In Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD, Luigi is a Stan without his Ollie. While Mario is off gallivanting through the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond, poor old Luigi is wrangled into playing ghost hunter, a one-man show whose every move is mimicry of 1920s silent film. Watching Luigi throughout each cutscene is pure joy. Whenever E. Gadd is waffling on about ghosts and ghouls, Luigi is a quivering bag of bones, and when he’s challenged to venture into the dark and dusty mansions, he’s insistently shaking his head, being ignored by his surrogate Ollie.

The comparison to Laurel and Hardy is never more apparent than in the Luigi’s Mansion series. As our hero is basically silent for his whole adventure, we read his emotions in his movements, brilliantly revamped and upscaled to a more modern standard. Gone are the blocky and fuzzy models from 2013’s original release for the Nintendo 3DS, and now Luigi is here in HD, his every mood captured wonderfully.

His comical walk is over-pronounced like watching Shaggy creep down a technicolour corridor seeking out a masked evil, Luigi’s run is a comical turn, with his head thrown back and his feet scampering faster than he can think. Mario could never be this funny. It’s all in the lanky elasticity of his younger brother, but then everything in the Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD universe is funny. The ghosts in particular.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD
Luigi's Mansion 2 HD

There’s this lovely tactic where you can peek through into upcoming rooms through slats or holes in the wall and watch what the ghosts are doing. It’s usually something you’d expect to see in a Looney Tunes short. It’s all over-the-top expression and harebrained antics that will often make you giggle, or at least smirk to yourself. It’s the unruly chaos we’ve seen in Hollywood over the years, done with comedic timing and perfect animation. Of course, the point is to actually catch the ghosts, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s rewind and tell you why you’re here.

Luigi did such a good job capturing ghosts in his first outing that E. Gadd, the wacky scientist, is back to ask the plumber for more help. The dark moon has broken into pieces and the usually reliable ghosts have started acting up. It’s determined that the only way to bring them under control is to rebuild the moon by collecting pieces strewn across several mansions.

Despite his hesitancy, Luigi agrees and gets sent out to the first mansion where you will complete certain tasks; it starts small, like exploring areas or finding ghosts who are hiding key items that will open new rooms in the mansion. However, after a time the missions will begin to mix and match what you’re used to and, of course, plenty of ghosts will be thrown in for you to catch.

Much like in the other installments of Luigi’s Mansion, you’ll suck up the ghosts in a vacuum cleaner, holding the opposite direction to which the ghost is moving and pressing the ‘A’ button when the time is right. This is done after flashing them with a bright light to stun them, sometimes the ghost goes in right away, and other times you have to complete a small task like removing its sunglasses or avoiding an attack before you can begin the act of capturing.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD
Luigi's Mansion 2 HD

In true Mario Bros style, each collection of levels ends with a ‘boss fight’ though they’re more of a puzzle box here. After all, Luigi can’t actually jump in this series, usually having to move around obstacles rather than leap over them. This means you can’t just bop a ghost on the head either, so you’ll be tasked with thinking outside the box to take down certain enemies. It’s a refreshing change of pace, for a game over 10 years old, and because each mansion adds in new gameplay elements, the bosses get tougher.

Without spoiling too many of the features for new players, it’s worth noting that much of the gameplay here switches between light puzzling and battling it out with ghosts that are reluctant to live in a vacuum cleaner. There are aspects of changing the way you view objects in the space around Luigi using a tool Gadd gives you, and you’ll slowly upgrade your vacuum by collecting money, making it more powerful, and unlocking new features for busting ghosts.

Of course, there are secrets to be found. The traditional, and best ghost, Boo, pops up in hidden places, plus you can find shiny gems all over the mansions, all of which are added to a collection you can view back in the bunker where E. Gadd sits on his behind doing very little to help the green Mario brother.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD
Luigi's Mansion 2 HD

The characters are a key part of the game. Professor E. Gadd is the madcap scientist who seems to think everything is easy; Polterpup will save Luigi’s life if you collect a golden bone during the level; and even Toad makes an appearance further cementing the links between the games. As with Luigi, they all add a layer of comedy because, at its core, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is a comedy adventure relying on slapstick and word play to engage the player in the world.

You could question why we needed Luigi’s Mansion 2 to be remastered and to that, I answer, why not? When I was playing the HD version I went back to watch some videos of the original and honestly, it doesn’t look too bad. Of course, it’s locked into the 3DS so this release brings it to many more players, plus the jump from the smaller handheld to the Switch is a delight. The revamped visuals are crisp and bursting with the Nintendo colour palette that always seems so satisfying.

If you’re a Mario completist or have played either of the other two Luigi’s Mansion games, you’re likely going to be buying this no matter what I say. If you’re on the fence, I can only put forward my experience which was filled with joy. Mario (and Luigi) games have an inherent knack for unleashing joy; they are bright, colourful, funny, and inventive. Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD doesn’t change the game from its forebear, it simply adds layers of sugary frosting to an already delicious cake.

The mansions are bursting with character, with each being designed around certain themes. They’re delightfully spooky in that camp cartoon way. The different ghosts have personalities that you’ll learn over time, like the green ones being more playful and the big red ones acting all grumpy and angry. It’s a testament to how much work Nintendo puts into making every aspect of their games feel, for lack of a better word, fun. You’re here to have fun, and you will because why wouldn’t you? It’s Luigi stuck in a mansion full of ghosts!

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD
Luigi's Mansion 2 HD

I will say, the closed-off areas within each level feel a bit archaic by today’s open-world standards that we’ve been spoiled with, but it’s such a minor quibble and harks back to the underpowered 3DS. There are points where I wanted to just waddle off and explore but Gadd kept calling me on the in-game telephone (which is actually a Nintendo DS) telling me what I was doing wrong.

Thankfully, you can go back into any level and just mess around, looking for hidden paths or features you missed the first time around. There’s also a four-player mode if you’re looking to play with friends and clear a huge tower of ghosts. Sadly I couldn’t make the online multiplayer session, but it’s something I’ll dabble with upon release as it takes away the ‘rules’ of the single-player campaign.

During many points of the campaign, E. Gadd makes a comment about how Luigi needs to step up and become the hero he was meant to be. There’s a sense of sadness in Luigi’s form as this is uttered. Sure, his brother gets all the glory, but Luigi is clearing out huge collections of ghosts, getting knocked back on his butt by rambunctious ghouls, and facing his fears. I’d argue that he’s a great hero, and his adventures here are equally as brilliant as any Mario has had over the years.

Pros: Gorgeous overhauled visuals, often hilarious, great puzzles and mechanics

Cons: The levels can be restrictive

For fans of: Mario, Princess Peach: Showtime! and Luigi’s Mansion 3

9/10: Excellent

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is available now on Nintendo Switch (version tested). Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Nintendo

Topics: Mario, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch