We recently had the chance to sit down with a more recent demo of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. With three stages to sweep clean rather than the single one on offer when we played it last year, we got to see just how much work Next Level Games has put into the game since then.
The three mansions that we were able to pick this time essentially represented three difficulty levels. The first one was easy, the second one was of medium difficulty, while the third was hard. With other demos to check out, we didn't have time to play all three — they were quite long — so we simply opted for both ends of the scale and picked the easy and hard ones. The first is one you might recognise from various videos and screenshots: a relatively normal house, but with some rather posh decorations strewn about, such as chandeliers, suits of armour, fancy rugs and more.
This level was also in last year's demo, so it gave us a good chance to see some changes. Before the level even started we were greeted by Professor E. Gadd, who was not yet in the previous demo. It's his first big role since the original Luigi's Mansion; you'll be happy to hear that he's exactly the same as before, with that particular style of humour he always had.
The mansion itself had some obvious modifications in place already: more cutscenes, new rooms, different enemies, additional scenery, extra bits to interact with, like cloths, and several other things. We assume that this will be the first mansion in the full game, as at the start you get the Poltergust from a dusty old garage next to the mansion's parlor. After battling some ghosts and grabbing some keys here and there, we eventually unlocked a new feature, that allowed us to activate digital door panels with a special flash of light. One of these doors led us into a relatively normal looking bathroom — that is, until we sat down on the toilet and the entire wall suddenly spun around, depositing us in a secret room on the other side with some extra cash (and enemies!).
That's about where the first mansion ended, however, because not long after that E. Gadd called us back to the laboratory, similar to how he rescues you shortly after venturing into the mansion in the original Luigi's Mansion. As stated before, we had to skip the second level, but judging from the level select screen, it had a clockwork theme with lots and lots of gears.
The third level took place in a frozen / snowy mansion, which meant that the fire-blowing ability from the original game made a welcome return. This stage was actually a rescue mission; the objective was to find and save Toad from somewhere inside. After battling some trickier ghosts and sucking up piles of snow, we had to play a little minigame involving a hockey rink, after which we ventured into a shed and found Toad waiting for us. The celebration didn't last long though, because right after that we fell down a hole and into some caves beneath the grounds, which we assume is where the level starts for real.
Unfortunately we couldn't explore much further than that, because we ran into an unfortunate bug involving Toad. As Toad wanders along with you when you find him, he's used in puzzles as well; you're able to suck him up and then shoot him at stuff, so he can activate switches and the like. While we tried to solve a puzzle in one room, we accidentally shot Toad over a fence and into a bottomless pit, after which the game simply respawned him near us.
At least, that should've been the case, but Toad then got stuck into an infinite loop of respawning in the air near us and falling a tiny bit, before then respawning in a slightly different spot and repeating the process. As Toad has to be on the ground to go between rooms, we were unable to leave and potentially force him to get his stuff together, so we were left with no option but to reset!
Still, despite the unfortunate bug, we came away quite impressed with Luigi's latest adventure. Opinions will likely be divided on whether it's best to have one giant mansion or several smaller ones, but nonetheless, it seems like it will be a very enjoyable game and a worthy, if long overdue, successor to the original game. Hopefully whatever bugs are around will be found and squashed, but otherwise, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon already seems like it is near completion — though you'll have to wait until 2013 to see if it comes up sparkling.