Copyright Adam Schlosser

Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser

Posted by Pip

R1R4- Hurwaf

Rebirths numbers two and three! Those Sins super fans that have played the Vice games (on the Swag page!) know that the Spirit Realm used to be vibrant and healthy (from when the Vice confronted Nostalgia in the Realm's past). With the burst of energy from Limbo and the Human Realm's implosion, the Spirit Realm is going to see some changes! And that blob of blue energy Envy just hacked up might see some restructuring too.

It's dual review day on Sins!

Caution: Contains saucy language!
AGWS takes a jaunt through Catherine, the... horror romance comedy puzzle visual novel movie game? I have no idea what Catherine is but it's weird and it's kind of neat.

Watch the previous AGWS videos at:

Quick Review: Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon- Luigi's Mansion 2 tests how much you like "charm". Art style-wise, it looks great, the enemies have tons of personality, and Luigi gets some good physical comedy and miming but the game will also push you to the limit of how much those things alone can sustain bad game design. Quick aside, Prof. E Gadd seems like a very "unNintendo" character. His design is awful and he's just annoying. For a sort of crazy scientist studying ghosts, they kind of dropped the ball on this one.
The mansions are broken up into levels, which helps with the portability, but the missions are too long for a train ride anyway, you can't save during a mission, and this choice makes it feel like the game has so much backtracking. You go through the same few areas in every mission so they get tiresome and since you've already gotten the collectibles the first time through, you don't get any of the fun of the exploration. The mission structure also encourages you to go through a lot of tedium. To find a collectible, you typically have to interact with an object or find a secret path, but some of the collectibles can only be found on specific missions, even though you go through that area multiple times. In the first mansion, there's a statue you can interact with and nothing happens, so the game has taught you that interacting with this statue is pointless. However, in the third mission and ONLY the third mission, if you interact with the statue again, its head falls off and you can use it to open a secret compartment and find a gem. This means that no matter how many times you've been through a room across multiple missions, you've now been taught that you have to interact with anything and everything every time you encounter it. There are invisible items as well, so you have to clear out a room and then run through it again shining your flashlight everywhere to see if you can spot something hidden. The items can also disappear during a mission, so even if you've been through a room on multiple missions and in the mission you're doing, you may not interact with it until you've gone through the same room multiple times. You also can't just find the collectible you need and then leave the level. Unless you complete the stage, you lose everything you've found in it. So if you found four out of the five gems in a stage, when you go back for the fifth, you have to do the entirety of the stage all over again to actually collect it.
They never had to make the mission mode concession for portability because they have the multiple mansions. The original LM was one giant open mansion, but the 3DS probably couldn't handle that performance and loading-wise, so they made the wise move to break the game into multiple smaller mansions, which has the side benefit of giving you multiple themes and environments. Since you have the multiple mansions, you have the system specs answer to putting the game on a handheld and you don't have to put the missions in just to make it work for “short” periods of play. Give the player the multiple mansions but leave them open and explorable and just allow the player to save in any room that's free of ghosts. This eliminates the backtracking, needing to search the same rooms over and over, having to finish the missions just to pick up a collectible, and tedium without sacrificing opening up the mansions by completing the smaller objectives or making the game too easy by allowing the player to save anywhere.
The controls are kind of frustrating and they just aren't responsive enough. When you're charging your flashlight or using the vacuum, Luigi can't turn around, which makes sense. But the game doesn't respond well to this and if you try to quickly move and flash the light or suck something up, sometimes the game will let you turn and then act but sometimes it makes you act and then turn. You increasingly have to act quickly like this as the game moves on, so it gets more punishing and much more frustrating as you get knocked around or repeatedly lose ghosts because the game isn't responding properly. And this game has sections where you have to balance Luigi as he walks across a small beam and you do this by using the gyroscope in the system itself. Balancing a character across a plank has basically NEVER been fun in any video game ever, but the 3DS seems to be ridiculously sensitive to tiny movements so good luck doing this on a moving train or vehicle. But hey, who would ever play a portable game away from their home. That would just be silly, right?
Pretty much every area of the game has some design or gameplay issue to pick apart. It's hard to judge depth on projectiles, bats, and rats so you get hit by things you thought you'd dodged. The game doesn't always respond in the proper direction when you're pulling a ghost. It's oddly picky about when it considers a ghost in the flashlight since you have almost no depth on the flashlight and the edges don't match up with the graphic. There's poor balance on unlocking upgrades. I had all but one by the time I beat the first mansion. The upgrades aren't even all that useful. The only two kinds of upgrades are to be able to use your flashlight longer (which isn't really an issue anyway) and to be able to charge the vacuum more (nice but not really essential). Only the final upgrade that lets you suck up ghosts faster actually feels like a real upgrade.
Then there's the sadly now-typical Nintendo poor multiplayer design. You can't filter how you search for multiplayer matches and you're only presented a small number to begin with so expect lots of refreshing the lists if you want to play a specific mode. You can create matches with a different number of floors, difficulty, and game types but all those results are jumbled together so you have to keep refreshing. If all you want to play is a 5 level Normal difficulty ghost hunt your results are still going to be filled with 25 level Hard difficulty Polterpup chases. You also can't kick people from matches which can lead to a lot of wasted time. The first session I could connect to was a 10 floor game but around halfway through it, one of the players must have put their system down but didn't disconnect so their Luigi was in our game but it never moved or did anything. We got all the way up to floor 8 without him but that floor's mission was that every player had to get to the exit in a certain amount of time and since that guy wasn't moving, we all failed the mission and got booted out of the game. In the second match I played, the other player left the game and I had to trudge through it all by myself. So between those two matches and all the error codes the game was spitting out preventing me from getting into other matches, I don't have a lot of faith in the game's multiplayer mode.
Luigi's Mansion 2 is an okay game, maybe kind of good if you're feeling generous and really like the humor and charm, but it by no means is a fun game. I play it in very short spurts but I'm still usually annoyed or frustrated by the end of just one mission. I'm using an FAQ to get the hidden Boos and gems just so I don't have to play levels a second time and having just finished the third (out of maybe five) mansion, I'm not entirely sure I want to keep playing it. I normally try to limit myself to only playing my handheld games on the ride to work so I make them last longer, but then I usually sneak a few minutes with them at home and then feel guilty that I finished them too quickly. That is not going to be a problem with Luigi's Mansion since it's not a good enough game to make me want to keep playing and it has long since worn out its welcome, so I'm fine with finishing it quickly.