This past weekend at the SXSW Gaming Expo I got a chance to go hands-on with the upcoming 3DS game Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. The game arrives in stores in just a few weeks but since Nintendo isn’t likely to release a demo of this marquee 3DS title it was one of the few chances the public may get to try the game without purchasing it.
It looks just like you would imagine. Luigi equipped with the Poltergust, sucking up ghosts after you reveal where their hidden. The portion of the game I played tasked Luigi with retrieving four stolen keys to open a door and of course the thieves responsible for stealing these keys were ghosts. Each ghoul goes a different direction leading you to various environmental puzzles.
Pressing B makes Luigi run faster (as he walks very slow normally) and pressing A flashes a light to spook ghosts out of hiding. Holding A down will create a larger burst of light. Once your light stuns a ghost you can hold down either shoulder button (L or R) to suck the ghost into your Poltergust.
During my time playing the game I was only able to retrieve two of these stolen keys. There are numerous hidden pathways in each room that are fairly obvious since the game prompts you to press the X button to check to see if a particular item is suspicious. One bathroom in this mansion had a toilet that would lead me to a hidden room once Luigi sat down on the toilet. There are countless ghosts surrounding Luigi, trying to scare the crap out of him yet he can’t even sit down on a toilet without being thrown into another environmental puzzle. Poor guy.
Overall the game was charming, had nice subtle music and followed the established Luigi’s Mansion formula well. The only issue I had with the game, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one, is the lack of Circle Pad Pro support.
Since the 3DS only has one circle pad built into it Luigi must move his vacuum by tilting the entire 3DS device. Luigi’s vacuum will only pull into it what is directly in front of it unless you tilt the device in whatever direction you need. This is similar to the camera control or first person arrow shooting in Ocarina of Time 3D.
The problem with this is it causes the game to constantly break the 3D effect, giving your eyes unnecessary strain. A simple solution would be to have the game support the Circle Pad Pro, an accessory that Nintendo wanted all of us to think we needed when they released it one year ago. But now a full year has gone by and the list of games that support the accessory is tiny and games like Luigi’s Mansion that would benefit from its inclusion don’t support it.
This motion control isn’t too annoying, steering the 3DS towards Luigi’s enemies isn’t hard and is usually enjoyable. You can move the vacuum to some extent with the face buttons on the 3DS but for some people that won’t be good enough. But the obvious decision would have been to include Circle Pad Pro support for those of us that enjoy a consistent 3D effect.
It is a disappointing decision by Nintendo and Next Level Games. If there is any one drawback that I can see being mentioned again and again with Luigi’s Mansion it is the lack of Circle Pad Pro support. The game so desperately needs a second analog stick and without it most users will likely choose to play with the 3D effect off altogether.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon will be available in stores and the eShop on March 24th. Despite some control issues the game appears to be a charming and comical follow-up to the GameCube classic. I’d like to think Nintendo will patch in Circle Pad Pro support in the future but I’m not going to hold my breath for that.