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'Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon': The other brother

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Entertainment,Ryan Vogt

"Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon," along with "Paper Mario: Sticker Star" and "Kirby's Return to Dreamland," is part of Nintendo's Pleasant Play line. Pleasant Play doesn't exist, but if it did, it would denote games that you play not because you look forward to them all day, but because it's the time of night that you play video games, and they're what you're currently playing. They're not bad, they're not great, they don't pack a whole lot of surprises, but they're made well, with enough respect for the player's time to keep you going.

Such is "Dark Moon," the sequel to "Luigi's Mansion," which launched alongside the Nintendo GameCube in November 2001. "Luigi's Mansion," the first game since 1992's "Mario Is Missing" to star the brother who wears green, had Luigi exploring a haunted house. Armed with a vacuum cleaner strapped to his back, Luigi would stun ghosts with his flashlight and "reel" them into his vacuum cleaner, kinda like fishing, or "Ghostbusters." The attraction wasn't so much the gameplay as it was the GameCube's graphical abilities, like creating real-time shadows when Luigi shined his flashlight around.

With visual feats like this now commonplace, "Dark Moon" must sink or swim on how fun it is. The good news is, the folks behind the game reach deep into their bag of tricks to give the player variety. "Dark Moon" takes place in a series of mansions, instead of one, there's much greater emphasis on puzzle solving this time around, and Luigi even, sort of, gets the ability to fly. The bad news is that "Dark Moon" relies way too much on a mechanic that wasn't interesting way back in the first "Luigi's Mansion," either: applying the vacuum cleaner to each and every thing in the world to see whether coins might be hidden inside it. "Dark Moon" involves a ton of backtracking through areas you've already visited, and constantly checking for coins, which buy you crucial upgrades to your vacuum and flashlight, is the very definition of filler.

'Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon'
» System: 3DS
» Price: $39.99
» Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Still, "Dark Moon" remains steadfastly pleasant. The animation is top-notch, jokes abound, the 3DS' namesake depth of field looks great, and the surprisingly good boss fights will have you hoping the next one comes soon. Not great, but not bad for a scaredy-cat like Luigi.

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