Since the dawn of the Super Mario Bros. franchise, poor Luigi has proudly accepted the role of second fiddle to brother Mario. That tends to happen when your name isn't included in the franchise title.
Luigi's Mansion gives our green-clad hero a chance to shine; and for the most part, he does the family name proud. Equipped with a flashlight and a "Ghostbusters"-like backpack featuring a powerful vacuum rather than particle streams, Luigi must canvass mansions to locate items, solve puzzles and capture pesky specters.
In all, the game presents a playful tone but unravels at times due to questionable game play choices.
The plot follows a steady course. Professor E. Gadd helps Luigi capture angry ghouls who are none too pleased and are wreaking havoc in five nearby mansions. The game's best features are highlighted by the design and aura of the mansions.
The use of the flashlight gives a creepy vibe to the nooks and hallways where ghosts linger, ready to pounce. The slapstick comedy -- though it doesn't always provide huge laughs --and visuals on the whole make for a suitably creepy trek while giving you enough lighthearted moments to keep it all in good fun.
The ghosts Luigi encounters come in several forms. They require different tactics to lure them inand snatch them up with the PolterGust 5000 vacuum. Everything stays relatively easy and fun until the mansions throw hordes of ghosts at you, which even the most savvy gamer will find difficult to manage.
The lack of save checkpoints means that if you get 90 percent through a particular level and then get defeated, you must restart the entire level. For a game aimed at younger players, this wouldn't seem taxing, but several of the later levels are actually quite challenging and lengthy, and the act of replaying long, arduous sections repeatedly drains your patience and enjoyment.
Still, Dark Moon remains a welcome change of pace that allows Luigi to hog the spotlight for a spell. He certainly holds his own when called upon to clean up a situation without the aid of his more popular brother.
PLOT Mario's oft-forgotten brother goes on a house-to-house scavenger hunt.
DETAILS Nintendo 3DS, $39.99