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Luigi's Mansion 2 HD

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD preview - Just as good, but much nicer

Next Level has given this adventure a new coat of paint that leaves it cleaner, more appealing and sharper than ever.

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It's been 22 years since Luigi went his own way as a solo hero series, away from the shadow of his brother Mario, and 11 since he returned to work with Professor E. Gadd in Luigi's Mansion 2 on Nintendo 3DS. Luigi's Mansion 3 didn't take that long to come out, and that's because it was an explosion of equal parts quality and creativity that fans clamoured for in a much stronger continuation. Perhaps that's why the Kyoto-based company has decided that one of its latest gems dedicated to its current console is this Luigi's Mansion 2 HD. A game that is, as far as I've been able to see for these first impressions, a perfect translation of the 2013 original.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD

But I've talked a lot about origins and nods to veteran gamers, and not to perhaps you, gamers who are approaching Luigi for the first time as a ghost hunter. Don't worry about the "2" in the title, because this is a game that can be enjoyed perfectly well without having even heard of the original Luigi's Mansion. Suffice to say that Luigi and a slightly mad scientist named E. Gadd (an eminence in the study of the paranormal world) are reunited to investigate the disappearance of the Dark Moon, a celestial entity that appeased the character of the ghosts that roam the Evershade Valley, and whose absence has made the ghosts dangerous, as well as raising a thick purple fog that covers everything.

But Luigi has never been very good at being brave, and reluctantly finds himself on a mission to find the fragments of the Dark Moon, which are in various mansions scattered around the valley in the hands (hands?) of powerful wraiths. He has only his trusty modified DS and his Poltergust 5000 left to finish the job, and so through the gate of the first mansion we go: Gloomy Manor.

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Each of these large stages full of rooms and secret passages are like a large puzzle that we must put together piece by piece, completing a series of missions. These can range from recovering our equipment to clearing all the cobwebs from the mansion, or capturing a certain number of the ghosts that inhabit it. Upon completion of this main objective, we will return to E. Gadd, who will evaluate our feat based on the time we have taken, the ghosts we have captured, the health we have not lost and the coins we have earned. These coins, by the way, unlock equipment upgrades that are very useful, so be sure to hoover up as many as you see.

But let's move on to ghost hunting mode. To catch these ectoplasmic creatures, Luigi needs to first stun them with a beam of light from his Strobulb and then weaken a "strength" counter on each one to zero. This is achieved with a dual-stick aiming and movement system that, while can be a little confusing at first if you're not familiar with tank controls, you'll soon get the hang of naturally. Sure, there will be times when it's best to cancel the vacuum and reposition Luigi to get a better angle, but if you're skilled enough, you'll be able to do it even with the Poltergust 5000 at full throttle.

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Our tools will also open up secret paths and hidden coin stashes, as well as helping us get our hands on the set of gems that each mansion hides, a decent challenge for completionists, as well as the teacher's star rating. Both the puzzles, humour and pacing work perfectly to turn this comical horror passage into a story for all audiences.

Luig's Mansion 2 HD brings some better new features that partly justify its return. The first, obviously, is the technical leap Next Level has made over its original work. The lighting, shadows, object definition, ghosts and dynamic effects can hardly be bettered here, surpassing even those of the third instalment. And although I'm not entirely sure, I'd swear that this soundtrack has also gone through arrangements that make it even better than the original.

Superb? No doubt about it. Perhaps the biggest dark cloud for me in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is that, at the moment, it doesn't give me any new secrets or levels (or even collectibles) to look for, but it's a great adventure to welcome summer with. I'm confidently clutching my flashlight tightly, and I doubt I'll be in for a shock (for the worse) when it comes time to fully appreciate it.

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