Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Luigi sleeping in a chair
Screenshot by Destructoid

Review: Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD

Closed concept.

As someone who has always preferred Luigi to his inferior sibling, Luigi’s Mansion was a priority purchase when the GameCube launched back in 2001. I still have a lot of affection for it, as one should.

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By the time Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon rolled around in 2013, I had given up hope that we’d ever see a sequel. I was extremely excited at its announcement, and even more so when I learned that Next Level Games, fresh from their work on the excellent Punch-Out and Super Mario Strikers Charged games on Wii, were handling its development.

And since I’m not fond of playing on a handheld, since I haven’t left my house in the time since the release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, I was happy to see it was getting ported to Switch. As it turns out, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is a great way to experience all the things I loved about the game, as well as all the things I didn’t.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Combat
Screenshot by Destructoid

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD (Switch)
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: June 27, 2024
MSRP: $
59.99

Following Luigi’s successful flip of a decrepit mansion, his friend and tormentor Professor E. Gadd has been working in harmony with all the ghosts he helped evict. Suddenly, an extremely obvious antagonist shows up and shatters a floating moon crystal, which causes the ghosts to flip out and take up arms against their employer. Luigi, being the only hero E. Gadd has in his rolodex, is called back into action to find out what’s going on.

A more accurate name for the game might be “Luigi’s Mansions” since there are five of them. Actually, even that is pretty inaccurate since some of them aren’t really mansions. Also, I feel that if we focus on the number of mansions, that’s kind of misleading since they’re not just microcosms of the Luigi’s Mansion formula, which was something of a key hunt crossed with actual janitorial work.

Luigi is equipped with an upgraded Poltergust, which is ghost-busting equipment based on your Mother’s recollection of how the Ghostbusters equipment worked. That is to say, it is literally a vacuum cleaner strapped to Luigi’s back. The original Luigi’s Mansion was essentially a room-by-room elimination of boss ghosts, each of which usually had a micro-puzzle that you needed to solve in order to suck them up. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is mostly comprised of smaller enemy ghosts that you hit with a flashbulb before capturing them.

In some ways, this is a disappointment. There was a lot of charm in Luigi’s Mansion’s cast of ghosts, and seeing them pressed onto a portrait at the end of each chapter was satisfying. On the other hand, this allows Luigi’s Mansion 2 to feel more action-based and less like maintenance work, and it does manage to add its own charm elsewhere.

To be more specific, the animations are incredible. To be even more specific than that, Luigi’s animations are a delight. The game is rife with cutscenes, and each one really captures the protagonist’s personality. Luigi is borderline heroic, but mostly, he has trouble setting boundaries and has been coerced into helping out. It’s less that he’s constantly terrified like he was in the original game and more that he’s put upon. He doesn’t want to be there, but he just can’t say “no” and E. Gadd is taking advantage of this while having little care for Luigi’s well-being.

What I mean to say is that it’s fun to watch the universe beat the crap out of Luigi. Many of his interactions with the environment wind up making him look foolish, and the physical humor is extremely varied. The people handling the animation seemingly had a lot of fun with development, since there’s a lot of it that doesn’t repeat. There isn’t one animation for Luigi throwing a secret switch and being flung into the next room, there’s a different one each time. It’s not necessary, but considering that the cartoonish charm is doing a lot of heavy lifting for the game’s deficiencies, it’s extremely important.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD saving toad
Screenshot by Destructoid

I mentioned that the mansions don’t really follow the previous Luigi’s Mansion formula, and that’s one of Luigi’s Mansion 2’s biggest problems. I want to be clear: altering the formula isn’t the problem here. It’s how they chose to do it.

Rather than being a series of explorable mansions, you’re instead presented with a series of chapters where you drop into the mansion, work your way to an objective, and then are pulled back by E. Gadd. You’re then treated to an expositional monologue from E. Gadd (which is often amusing) and then sent back in to follow a different route to a different objective. All of these routes are largely linear, and while there is a degree of exploration, it’s mostly probing the margins to find the things that will spit treasure on you.

The start and stop of the chapter-based design is bad enough, but the focus on linear progression takes a lot of agency from you. The original also had chapters, but you were largely free to roam around to find the encounters that were open to you or aggressively hump the furniture to find keys and such. The repetition got tiresome about two-thirds into the game, but the alternative offered by Luigi’s Mansion 2 is somehow even drier.

The framework could have worked if it was in service of variety. If each chapter provided some sort of dynamic setpiece moment unique to that chapter, I would understand the decision, but many of the chapters feel mostly the same.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Carrying a bucket.
Screenshot by Destructoid

That isn’t to say that Luigi’s Mansion 2 isn’t fun. In fact, moment to moment, it’s enjoyable. The puzzle design, in particular, is fantastic. It’s accessible but still requires strong observational skills. It won’t offer unwelcome hints when you’re spinning your wheels trying to figure out a solution, which makes the whole experience feel more rewarding than it would if it constantly held your hand.

While I miss the more complex ghosts of the original game, the generic fight sequences of Luigi’s Mansion 2 are also, on the whole, enjoyable. While some enemies, such as one that scares Luigi to break his hold on other ghosts, can be sometimes annoying, it provides a fair difficulty curve throughout. Moreover, catching multiple ghosts in your suction stream is satisfying in a way that makes you feel good about your skills.

This is demonstrated well in the multiplayer Scarescraper mode. There are a few variations of this, but they’re all relatively simple. However, partnering up with other players to explore randomly generated floors is an enjoyable distraction. I just wish that they implemented split-screen.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Scarescraper Mode
Screenshot by Destructoid

In terms of what Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD does offer over the original release, it’s mostly just cosmetic. While it doesn’t look as good as Luigi’s Mansion 3 and could have benefited from better lighting effects, the models and textures are noticeably improved. It was already a great-looking game on 3DS, and it still looks like the same game, but the improvements are easily visible.

On the other hand, certain scenes were obviously framed to make use of the handheld’s stereoscopic 3D, and their impact is lost without it. Not a big deal, but it can be seen as a step back.

It would be extremely difficult not to be charmed by the graphics and animation in Luigi’s Mansion 2, as the passion behind them is practically tangible. Even the central focus of puzzle solving and ghost-catching are fun on their own. However, I cannot possibly overstate how much of the joy gets sucked out by its strict adherence to a completely linear chapter progression. It’s like a hospital painted in vibrant colors. It does a lot to brighten things up, but you can only do so much to counterbalance the sterility.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

7
Good
Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.


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Zoey Handley
Staff Writer - Zoey is a gaming gadabout. She got her start blogging with the community in 2018 and hit the front page soon after. Normally found exploring indie experiments and retro libraries, she does her best to remain chronically uncool.