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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.

TranscriptEdit

I think mature video games and me are having a bit of a time out. It's not them, it's me; the sound of gunfire was starting to feel like the text message ringtone of my life and the message was always "Ow, I'm dead" or some variation of such.

I started playing Defiance, but I found it's unvarying shooter action, erection-whitheringly dull to play for more than an hour or so. If there's one thing that reliably gets on my tits, it's clumsy made-up swear words. Hey, lady with the Chippendale writing desk for a forehead, you seem fine with using English words all the rest of the time, what have you got against saying "shit"? It's a nice convenient syllable ideal for spontaneous expression of dissatisfaction and particularly handy for describing MMO shooters based on Syfy original series no-one watches! What the fuck is "shtako" supposed to mean? It's a fucking six-lane pile-up of the vocal cords.

And I don't think I can face this Injustice thing right now either, 'cos I haven't yet drunk enough lighter fluid to have entirely forgotten about Mortal Kombat vs. D.C. Universe. I felt like playing a game where the main character is less physically fit than me for once.

Well, turns out Nintendo was happy to oblige with Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon on the 3DS. The original was a GameCube launch title somewhat maligned, but it seems no Nintendo property can escape being sequelised forever. I think I see how the Nintendo flowchart works. Question 1: Are you an entirely original property? If yes, sod off! Question 2: Has your franchise gone unacknowledged for a long time, or are you Pokémon? If yes, welcome aboard the uncomfortably sharp edges of the good ship 3DS! Hope your audience likes having sore palms (masturbation joke in there somwhere)!

Thanks for reminding me of the GameCube though, this is what gets me of Nintendo hardware of late. The GameCube had a lovely controller actually designed to be held by human hands controversially. But since then, all their controllers and handhelds have been harsh rectangles and prolonged use of the 3DS always leaves my hands looking like I've tried to wear a pair of sandwich toasters as mittens. Not that I want two videos in a row to start with me widdling all over Nintendo hardware. I mean at least they still make games machines rather than dedicated social media interfaces that run on money!

But yes, the game. Let's not waste too much time establishing things. Luigi gets called in to suck up a bunch of ghosts because he sucked up a bunch of ghosts before and they couldn't be bothered to retailor the vacuum cleaner harness.

Of the two, Luigi is the Mario Brother I would much rather have unblock my S-bend. As the principal face of the company, Mario has long been in character lockdown, incapable of showing any expression or action that might alienate a potential customer. They're afraid to show that Mario doesn't like peas in case they lose the entire pea-loving demographic.

But being less important, Luigi is the Mario Brother permitted to have an actual personality, albeit a varying one. In Mario Galaxy, he's earnest but accident-prone. In Super Paper Mario, he's the most amazing human being who ever lived. And of course in Luigi's Mansion, he was a coward whose every individual body part jiggled like a tit on a walrus. In Dark Moon, he's more a put-upon everyman and what I like is that he constantly conveys personality in a thousand sublte ways, from the way he adjusts his backpack for comfort to his nervous humming along to the background music. You see, there's far more to Luigi than some well-maintained facial hair, lovely as it would be to imagine gently brushing my skin under romantic firelight.

In contrast to other games in which Luigi is basically just Mario suffering some kind of identity crisis, this Luigi cannot jump and can barely run. He's got a vacuum cleaner and a flashlight and so for once must employ those technical skills that must have served the family plumbing business well, before whatever catastrophic toilet accident stranded the two brothers in this bizarre mushroom-obsessed dimension. Essentially, this is a game of running down the list of options until you provoke a reaction like an uncalled electrician looking for the busted fuse:

  • Step 1: Push it
  • Step 2: Shine a light on it
  • Step 3: Shine the other light on it
  • Step 4: Give it a suck
  • If it responds, continue sucking
  • Dig in your heels and suck it until your moustache stands on end, you beautiful man

It makes for a reactive explorable world with a solid core mechanic that ramps up naturally as the ghosts keep on growing in number and strength. When you latch on to a ghost's backside, you must be alert to when to suck with all your might and when to ease off to allow yourself to dodge other ghosts who might be trying to double-team you unexpectantly in the rear. Gosh, it's getting awfully hot in here!

In accordance with the Nintendo policy that's served them very well so far, the plot is basically a retread of the first one, but the gameplay has evolved in good directions. A more appropriate title might have been Luigi's MansionS (to follow the Alien sequel naming convention) since there are several, each with a handful of missions.

If I have a problem with this, it's my own obsessive instinct to meticulously search every room of the house in every mission in case those curtains in room 3A will disgorge money again or in case the optional ghosts are hanging about there. Incidentally, it was disappointing to discover that finding all the optional ghosts in the mansion only unlocks a secret time trial level. I thought it was going to be some 'this is how you get the true ending scenario', but oh boy another chance to look around the same place I went to five times, nudging every fucking potplant. All my Christmases have come at once.

Even the constant streams of money that the game throws at you for poking the skirting boards lack a purpose once you've gotten the paltry five upgrades. I could think of a lot of things I would have spent the money on. For example, in situations where I am tasked to escort little frightened Toadstool people who run around squawking like geese at a peepshow, getting in front of my suck-pump while I'm trying to inhale cum- I mean ghosts, and getting their heads caught in the pipe, I wish I could have bought then some fucking Ritalin! But then I'm not Luigi who interacts with the Toads with touching, almost fatherly concern, a far cry from Old Mister "Let's condem Yoshi to a bottomless pit for the sake of a double jump" Mario!

So yes, after all that, I quite liked Luigi's Mansion 2. See, Nintendo? If you'd stopped cocking about with your hardware gimmicks and concentrated on making games with character and polished core mechanics, then I wouldn't have to keep hitting you!

I even had fun with the co-op random dungeon mode which has the best kind of co-op gameplay, in that you can play it entirely by yourself. Okay, I did play a quick online game, but I found the gameplay turned quite antagonistic quite fast with four multicoloured Luigis all fighting over who gets to suck one ghost, which was disturbing 'cos I thought I was having that recurring dream again!

AddendaEdit

Brother from another mother: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Yeah give Luigi shit for being scared but I bet you've never had to wring ectoplasm out of your facial hair

And now to go inhale some spirits of a different kind

ScreenshotsEdit

Zero Punctuation - 294 - Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon 01

How the Nintendo flowchart works

Zero Punctuation - 294 - Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon 02

They're afraid to show that Mario doesn't like peas in case they lose the entire pea-loving demographic

Zero Punctuation - 294 - Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon 03

Some 'this is how you get the true ending scenario'

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017

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