Looking back over our 2013 review of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS has been a timely reminder of why we love this game so very much, yet have failed to return to it beyond our original playthrough back in the day - an oddity, given that we're quite partial to hoovering up every last secret there is to find in most games we enjoy.

It was the controls, you see. They were fiddly in the first Luigi's Mansion, and in the second game the lack of an extra thumbstick on the 3DS made for an experience that felt marred slightly by the shortcomings of the system on which it was delivered. It wasn't a huge deal — this writer is still very much in agreement with the 9/10 score dished out by this site at the time — it was always just one of those things with this series. A great idea, smart games, excellent puzzles and tons of atmosphere, all held back a little bit. A franchise that felt like it needed unleashing onto a new platform.

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This issue was then fully addressed with Luigi's Mansion 3. The big fancy Switch follow-up that showed just how amazing this spooky sub-series could be if it got the right sort of treatment and wasn't held back in the controls department. It's our favourite game of the franchise, an experience that outdoes the scope and scale found in the first two games, and the model that Next Level Games has worked towards with this HD revamp of the first sequel.

We've discussed already, in our preview of the HD version, how this shiny remaster sticks resolutely to what's found in the original package from a content perspective. There's no 'Deluxe' or other such moniker in the title, signalling that a resolution bump and some extra animations are all we are getting. And so it is, for the most part. It's gonna be a sticking point for some, but Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is the exact same game that many of you will have no doubt played 11 years ago - it just looks much nicer.

And we really do mean much nicer. Yes, a lot of the work is in the resolution bump — there was always a ton of detail and artistry to ogle in Luigi's Mansion. Lighting and environmental effects are improved, animations have been enhanced, cleaned up, and added to — Luigi and his enemies are so much more emotive than we recall — and the whole thing feels a whole lot more readable and effective as these fine details get a chance to shine in both docked and handheld modes. This is a very good-looking version of a very good game.

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And then we come to the real high point, from a personal perspective at least, in that the controls with a second stick are just so much better. Your mileage will vary with this depending on how irksome you found directing the Poltergust 5000 into specific spots in the original, but for us it removes the one real niggle that we had back in the day. This now feels almost on the same level as Luigi's 2019 adventure in how it plays, and it makes for a decade old game that's not lost the ability to entertain in the slightest.

If you haven't ever played it before, Luigi's Mansion 2 ditches the claustrophobia of the creepier first game, in favour of a bigger and brighter adventure that gives the hapless Mario bro several locations to explore, rather than a singular mansion. It's a surprisingly large game, somewhere around the 30-hour mark if you dig in and explore for secrets, and each and every location is designed with a careful cleverness that really does make it feel like a bonafide Nintendo-made product, rather than the work of an outside party (originally Canadian studio Next Level Games, now owned by Nintendo, although this port was handled by Australian dev Tantalus Media).

Rumble has been added effectively to fight sequences on Switch, which feel much better now that wrangling ghouls and aiming is smoother. Motion controls are used for fine-tuning and directing the camera for certain parts, and these touches, along with the refreshed looks, make for a revamp that really does look and feel very modern.

The five distinct areas that Luigi and company must battle through in order to gather up pieces of the Dark Moon have lost none of their ability to draw you in, with each new mission balancing just the right amount of gentle combat with puzzles that make full use of your delightful surroundings - this is one of those games that makes hoking around in bins and drawers feel great. Treasure and hearts and secrets fly out of things in just the right way, in turn locking us into the pursuit of finding every last hidden Boo and gem. We've never spent much time with ScareScaper, the game's local and online multiplayer mode, we gotta be honest it's not really our bag, but it also makes the cut here for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

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So, with so many good things to say about it all, how come (review spoilers!) we've gone with a lower score this time around? Well, because we reckon this HD package is all a little bit too safe and workaday given the premium price that it's being flogged for. Make no mistake, this is a great game, and it's never played better than it does here. But to leave little niggling legacy issues unaltered...it just doesn't sit quite right given the price point.

We really do wonder why there's no rejigged save system - you have to restart a mission from the very beginning if you die, and that's not changed here. Loading times haven't seen the sort of shortening we'd have expected either, so there are no benefits in terms of being able to dip in and out of levels any quicker than in the original. We also did notice one moment during an early cutscene where the frame rate stutters a little, which is just a little surprising. It doesn't affect the gameplay at all, but it fits in with the overall vibe of "All very good but a wee push could have made it amazing, lads."

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Speaking with other folk who've played this one in the past, there is always a little pushback against how slow these games can make the time between missions feel. Luigi's Mansion 2 suffers from this sort of plodding pace in its menus and in how often it feels the professor pulls you out of levels instead of just letting you rip a bit longer. It would have been great seeing some of this stuff side-stepped to make it all a bit...quicker, we guess. A bit snappier in how it moves us around. However, that's for the deluxe models, not the HD ports of this world.

For the price, it would have been nice to see these things remedied, to see more options for saving/pausing progress, or for some new aided modes for players like the sorts we see in those snazzy deluxe reissues. However, away from these niggles, and away from the fact they've not made climbing that big bloody staircase in the Hollow Tree any easier, what we've got here is a very straightforward — but also very shiny and nice — HD revamp of one of the 3DS' best games. It looks great, it feels better than ever to play, it does just about enough to warrant revisiting. All of these thing are true.


Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is Luigi's Mansion 2 with a fancy HD lick of paint. Surprise! It looks great, and the new models, animations, and revamped visuals make for a game that's close to the glorious Luigi's Mansion 3 in how modern and swish it all is. It also controls much nicer thanks to the second stick on the Switch. It's just a shame we haven't got any added extras, then, any new means to save mid-mission, added content, or bonuses. This is 100% the best way to play the game as of 2024, there's no doubt, but it would have been nice to get something a little extra, especially given the price point. Maybe we'll get a Deluxe edition someday.