Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD Review

There was a long gap between the release of the original Luigi’s Mansion and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. When the sequel did come out, gamers were mostly happy with what they got but there was always a sense that it was held back by some egregious design choices. To its credit, Dark Moon did establish many innovations that would make their way onto Luigi’s Mansion 3, but many gamers missed it since it was stuck on the 3DS… until now.

HD remasters of 3DS games on modern consoles aren’t so absurd these days. As ingenious as the two-screen gimmick was, it turns out most games are still enjoyable and most cases preferable as a single-screen experience. Ghost Trick, Alliance Alive, and Monster Hunter Stories showed that most dual-screen games can be converted to one without compromising the experience.

Nintendo’s remasters can be hit or miss. Sometimes they go above and beyond with the likes of Metroid Prime Remastered or Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Other times Nintendo delivers straight ports or emulation like Pikmin 1+2 or Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It can be just an HD upgrade with some tweaks like The Wind Waker HD or a deluxe edition that includes everything like Mario Kart 8 or Pikmin 3 Deluxe. How much effort was put into a Dark Moon remaster? Find out in our Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD review!

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD
Developer: Next Level Games, Tantalus
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Nintendo 3DS (as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon)
Release Date: June 27, 2024
Price: $59.99

King Boo is back and this time he’s gone too far when he destroyed the Dark Moon crystal of Evershade Valley. This is a huge problem for Professor E. Gadd, the visiting scientist who was studying the paranormal entities in the area because, without the Dark Moon, the spirits become insanely hostile.

Since Luigi was an effective ghostbuster the first time around, the Professor kidnaps him using a quantum demoleculizer teleportation device and forces him to use dangerous equipment in condemned buildings.

Compounded with the threat of paranormal spirits trying to kill him, Luigi is forced to take a hazardous job where he doesn’t even get to keep any of the cash he finds on site. The Professor steals all the earnings to maintain the equipment and ecto-storage system.

Honestly, who wouldn’t want Luigi to help them out of this sticky situation? The Professor is as feeble and infirm as the 46th President but with floppier feet and more charisma. He is the only character with any dialogue in the entire game since Luigi only mutters simple stock phrases and exclamations like Mario characters tend to.

Once the Professor equips the cowardly Luigi with the Poltergust equipment, he is set loose in the first mansion, but hold your horse, because the Professor has to interject whenever Luigi does anything.

Getting all the pieces to the Dark Moon would be a lot faster and smoother if the Professor would stop calling to explain what needs to be done. Worse yet, he still interrupts the game to teleport Luigi back to the base due to the contentious mission-based structure.

The core gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD, is the same as it was on 3DS. Luigi is sent to a mansion where he has to complete a simple goal and he busts some ghouls and solves a few puzzles along the way.

After about three or four missions, it’s time to fight the boss of the mansion and collect a piece of the Dark Moon. Every mission has a side objective where Luigi can hunt down a Boo which is different from busting ghosts.

Luigi is a lean mean sucking and blowing machine. Every mansion he goes to he leaves the place sparkling clean from his Poltergust’s intense suction, that even the ghosts feel it.

The controls rely on a twin-stick shooter layout where the right stick aims the Poltergust and the left stick moves Luigi. There is no jumping and the triggers and shoulder buttons are mapped to functions like the blacklight, suction, blowing, and the strobe flash.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD foundation is built from adventure games. Luigi will have to solve environmental puzzles to find keys to unlock doors which leads him to areas with new gimmicks.

It is a satisfying premise that works and feels like a kid-friendly survival horror game. The only problem is that there is no way to fully explore any of the mansions since they’re mission-based and every mission has specific parameters which later the layout and locks off some areas.

The mission structure sucked on 3DS and they still suck in HD. The stop-and-go pacing while playing feels like the times you had to sit through a commercial break when watching a really good movie on TV.

This HD version misses the mark by not having a way to fully explore a mansion after beating the boss to collect stray gems or Boos without having to replay a mission and complete the same objectives.

Combat with phantoms and spirits is simple yet satisfying thanks to the care put into the sound design and animation. When Luigi hooks onto a class V full-roaming vapor, it yanks him around like a pitbull dragging a white woman, trying to chomp at a toddler. The music goes full Tom and Jerry as Luigi can reel in multiple ectoplasmic manifestations like a seabass.

Busting ghosts isn’t always as simple as stunning them with a strobe bulb and hoovering them into the Poltergust 5000. Paranormal events become more sophisticated and threatening, elevating to class VI entities who may use tools or possess lower life forms. Sometimes ghosts shield themselves with eye protection or will use objects to block strobe flashes and in some cases anchor themselves to prevent suction.

In the heat of an exorcism with multiple aggressive phantoms that use tools or weapons, gameplay becomes tense and exciting. Luigi will have to solve these issues on the fly since the ghosts’ visibility is constantly shifting and the only way out of a room is either complete exorcism or in a body bag.

The experience of gradually opening up a mansion and cleansing it while stealing heaps of cash and getting into puzzle-like battles with the departed is what makes the Luigi’s Mansion games compelling and that stands true with Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD. The mission format artificially lengthens what is already a reasonably long adventure game because it forces players to retrace areas by restarting in the same area.

If Luigi clears out the safes and sucks up some treasure in a hidden area, those nooks and crannies stay cleared across all missions for the area. Activating a mechanism in an early mission will affect the same mansion in a later mission.

Details like this show that Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD was very close to having a cohesive setting where Luigi would feel connected, but being booted to the Professor’s lab when activating a switch and then returning to the starting area is tedious.

What is most frustrating is that this could have all been addressed in this HD remake. In the past, Nintendo has often addressed criticism in rereleases and typically these adjustments dramatically improve the experience.

The sped-up animation when climbing and opening chests in Twilight Princess HD made it a vastly improved experience. Abridging the Triforce quest and the quick sail in Wind Waker HD made the game more enjoyable.

The developers of Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD should have included a free-roam mode for every mansion after beating the stage boss. This way players won’t have to concern themselves with mission-imposed limitations and can bust any boos at their own pace while searching for cheekily placed gems.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is borderline a straight port. The graphics on 3DS were already pretty good and this HD port on Switch does have some improved visuals. The 3D models appear to be rounder and have a higher polycount.

There is a glossier sheen applied to many surfaces. In some cases, it does make the graphics look sterile when a grittier and grungier look would have been more appropriate. Shadows are improved but there are still traces of some details and effects that give away the 3DS origins.

Apart from the boost in visuals, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is the same game on 3DS. The Scarescraper is still a tedious and mind-numbing experience no matter how many people you play with.

There are no new modes, yet this manages to be more expensive than it was on 3DS and is still about twenty dollars more than Metroid Prime Remaster, which had a dramatic transformation.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is not worth the absurd asking price. This is still a decent game and while it does have some annoying design issues, kids won’t mind having to retrace their steps due to the mission parameters. This really should have been packaged with an HD port of the first Luigi’s Mansion too, like what was done with Pikmin 1+2. This would have added some much-needed value if it had to be a full $59.99.

If you didn’t like it the first time, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD won’t change your mind because it is the same game, just higher-def, more expensive, and they dropped the “Dark Moon” subtitle. If you enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion 2 when it was on 3DS, you are still going to enjoy yourself, but chances are you already have this game on your 3DS and there are no new additions or worthwhile changes for anyone returning.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD‘s target audience is kids who grew up playing Luigi’s Mansion 3 but were born late to enjoy the past games on 3DS. It is the only explanation why it is utterly barebones and bereft of new features. Any kid who enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion 3 will still like Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD, but god help the poor parent who pays full price for it.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch using a code provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is now available for Nintendo Switch.