Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, known in Japan as Luigi Mansion 2 (ルイージマンション2, Ruīji Manshon Tsū), and in Europe and Australia as Luigi's Mansion 2, is an action-adventure video game developed by Next Level Games and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS, and is the sequel to the 2001 game Luigi's Mansion for the GameCube. The game was first released in Japan on March 20, 2013, and in most other major regions later that same month. It is the third Mario game where Luigi is the protagonist, after Mario Is Missing and the original Luigi's Mansion.
In Dark Moon, the player takes control of the Mario franchise character Luigi, who is equipped with the Poltergust 5000, a specialized vacuum cleaner used to capture ghosts. In the game's single-player mode, the main goal is to retrieve the pieces of the shattered Dark Moon, a magical object that has a pacifying effect on the ghosts residing in the game's setting, Evershade Valley, by seeking out the shards in the five haunted mansions located therein. Dark Moon offers a cooperative multiplayer mode that can be played locally or online via Nintendo Network.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is an action-adventure game in which the main playable character is Luigi, who is sent by Professor E. Gadd to explore abandoned haunted mansions and capture hostile ghosts using the Poltergust 5000, a specialized vacuum cleaner. In the main single-player mode, the player explores five different mansions that are each designed around a specific theme, such as an overgrown greenhouse and a clock factory built over an archaeological site, to retrieve the Dark Moon fragment hidden within.
Exploration through a mansion is divided into multiple mission-based levels that focus on completing a number of objectives, such as retrieving an object, accessing a particular room, or defeating a stronger boss ghost. At the end of each mission, the player is scored based on various factors such as the treasures and ghosts collected. If during a mission Luigi takes too much damage from ghost attacks or from environmental hazards and loses all his heart points, he will faint and the player must restart the mission. If the player finds and collects a golden bone, Luigi will be revived the first time he faints and will be able to continue the mission instead of starting over. The Nintendo 3DS touchscreen shows a mini-map of the mansion's layout, with locations of both locked and unlocked doors. The character Toad accompanies Luigi in certain missions. When the player obtains the Dark Moon fragment hidden in a mansion, he can progress to the next mansion, and the player completes the game upon collecting all six Dark Moon fragments.
To capture a ghost, the player first stuns the ghost using Luigi's flashlight equipped with the Strobulb attachment. While Luigi's Mansion only required the player to simply shine the light upon the ghost, in Dark Moon, the player instead charges the Strobulb to release an intense burst of light that acts similar to a flashbang. When stunned, the ghost's hit points are exposed, allowing Luigi to vacuum the ghost to decrease its hit points until it is weak enough to be captured. Luigi can vacuum up to three ghosts simultaneously. Some types of ghosts wear protection against the Strobulb and need to be tricked into becoming vulnerable.
In addition to capturing ghosts, the suction and blowing functions of the Poltergust 5000 are used to manipulate and carry objects seen in the environment. Many of the game's puzzles are designed around this concept. For example, the player uses the vacuum to carry buckets of water, yank pull switches, spin valve handles, and propel small objects. Other objects, such as certain types of switches and locks, react only when exposed to the Strobulb flash. Early in the game, the player obtains the Dark-Light Device item, which allows the flashlight to reveal invisible doors and furniture.
Dark Moon features a cooperative multiplayer mode called "ScareScraper" (Thrill Tower in Europe), in which up to four players each control a differently colored Luigi. The players explore each floor of a mansion and complete the specified objective within a time limit. When the objective is completed, the players ascend to the next floor. The floors are all randomly generated, with different floor layouts and placement of ghosts and items, and the players may select to ascend a mansion that either has a finite or endless number of floors. Four different objective types are available: Hunter, in which all the ghosts on the floor must be captured; Rush, where players race to find the exit to the next floor; Polterpup, where players pursue and capture ghost dogs; and Surprise, in which one of the other three objectives is randomly chosen per floor. "ScareScraper" can be played locally or online via Nintendo Network.
The game opens with King Boo, who somehow escaped from his painting after Professor E. Gadd sold it at a garage sale, shattering the Dark Moon, an object that hangs above Evershade Valley and has a pacifying effect on the ghosts that inhabit the valley, which causes the ghosts to suddenly become hostile, forcing the Professor to take shelter in a bunker. The Professor immediately contacts Luigi to re-collect the five pieces of the Dark Moon, which have been scattered to different mansions, in order to restore peace to Evershade Valley, and capture and contain the ghosts before they leave the valley and wreak havoc on the rest of the world.
Luigi makes his way through five different mansions in the valley, encountering new and stronger ghosts as he proceeds to recover Dark Moon pieces from Possessor Ghosts at the end of each mansion, acquiring upgrades for the Poltergust 5000 the Professor provides him for the job, and also saving the professor's Toad assistants, who were turned into paintings by King Boo and his goons. The Toads produce security images that provide valuable clues, and show 2 Boos carrying a bag with a strange-looking painting inside. Eventually, Luigi and the Professor find out that Mario was turned into a painting again and that King Boo is the culprit behind the whole crisis. However, just after Luigi obtains the final Dark Moon piece in a parallel dimension, accessible through a paranormal portal, King Boo intercepts him as he's being returned to the bunker. King Boo admits he destroyed the Dark Moon and reveals his intentions to use the corrupted ghosts to conquer the world. A battle between Luigi and King Boo ensues, and eventually, King Boo is defeated.
When Luigi returns to the Treacherous Mansion, he frees Mario from the painting and reunites with the Professor and Toads. They rebuild the Dark Moon, which returns the ghosts back to their friendly selves. The professor releases the captured ghosts from the Vault and they celebrate, take a photo and the game ends when Luigi finally returns home with his newly adopted Polterpup.
Dark Moon was developed by Next Level Games, a Canadian developer who had previously worked on Nintendo-published titles Punch-Out!! and the Mario Strikers series. Development of the game started in late 2010 with producer Shigeru Miyamoto overseeing the production. Miyamoto stated that he chose to work on the sequel simply because he "wanted to" after using the original game to test the hardware of the Nintendo 3DS. The original game for the GameCube was tested for 3D effects, but this was later scrapped. The North American title of the game was revealed to be renamed from Luigi's Mansion 2 to Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon at Nintendo All-Access during E3 2012.
Miyamoto served as a producer for the game and would check in with the team every two weeks and provide feedback and suggestions. Miyamoto at one point threw out the designed bosses in the game and encouraged the team to come up with bosses that "could only appear in Luigi's Mansion". The team also experimented with the Circle Pad Pro, but could not find an adequate use for it, as capturing ghosts no longer required dual analog control.
Dark Moon was released in Japan on March 20, 2013, in North America on March 24, and in Europe and Australia on March 28.
An arcade game based on Dark Moon titled Luigi's Mansion Arcade was released in 2015 in Japan, which was developed by Capcom and published by Sega. It is an on-rails light gun game with a vacuum controller and support for two players. Location tests were conducted during the 2014 Halloween weekend from October 30 until November 3.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has received highly positive reviews, gaining aggregate scores of 85.86% on GameRankings and 86/100 on Metacritic. IGN gave the game a 9.3 out of 10, citing that it was "Nintendo at its inventive best."
Matthew Castle of Official Nintendo Magazine UK gave it a 92%, praising the game's 3D visuals and mix of old and new features. However, he also criticized the game for its lack of checkpoints, stating that "Death, though rare, forces Luigi to restart missions from scratch, punishing 30 seconds of weak defence with up to half an hour of collecting treasure and solving puzzles for a second time which feels like rough justice when you make a silly mistake in a surprise ambush." He concluded on a positive note, stating "For as much as Luigi's Mansion 2 acts like the class clown, all shrieks and pratfalls, it has more heart than any game in recent memory when it isn't yanking them out of ghost chests, naturally. So man up Luigi and embrace your applause. Funny, gorgeous, crammed full of surprises... but enough about Luigi. Nintendo renovates one of its more oddball offerings into a must-have title. The only thing to fear is that it takes another 10 years to return."
Matthew Reynolds of Digital Spy gave it 5 out of 5 stars, commenting positively that "Practically every room in this expansive follow-up feels lovingly handcrafted and crammed full of things to tinker with, filled with playful animations and spoils to discover. While combat is less complicated but wholly enjoyable, the game's real priority lies in exploration and puzzles."
Conversely, GameSpot gave it a 6.5 out of 10, citing "difficulty spikes and a lack of checkpoints."
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon debuted to high sales worldwide, selling 1.33 million units in the United States by August 2014, and 515,975 units in Japan by April 14, 2013. In the United Kingdom, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon became the first 3DS exclusive title of the year to chart. The game charted fifth in the All Formats chart, a position it held for three consecutive weeks.
As of December 31st, 2016, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has sold 5.20 million units worldwide.