It must suck being the younger brother to the Mushroom Kingdom hero, Mario. Always left in his brother's shorter, rounder shadow, stuck with hand-me-down overalls and relegated to hopeless sidekick, the beanpole brother must feel down from time to time. After playing second fiddle to the most recognisable game character for the best part of eighteen years, Nintendo finally took pity on Luigi and gave him the staring role in a launch title for the Wii's predecessor, the GameCube, in 2001. Luigi's Mansion gave the lean, green, screaming machine a haunted mansion to explore, searching for his hopeless brother, who'd managed to get himself thoroughly lost inside - and while it wasn't the longest game they'd ever made (it could be finished in less than three hours), it gained quite a cult following which eventually lead to the long-awaited sequel, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, which will be coming to the 3DS later this year.
Having got a taste for ghost-busting over a decade ago, in Dark Moon, the jumpy Luigi reluctantly returns to explore and unghostify (is that even a word? [spellcheck says no - Ed]) a series of spooky mansions, in search of a series of Dark Moon pieces for the previous game's nutty professor, Elvin Gadd (or as it's usually written, Dr E. Gadd. Oh, ho, ho). But far from being a genuinely horrifying ride, it's worth remembering this is a Nintendo game, and the mansions are designed in a suitably cheesy way. Much like a ghost train, the mansions are populated by suits of armour that swipe at you as you walk by, lights that suddenly go out, and lifts that come to life, before plummeting into the abyss below, all of which turn the nervous brother into a quivering wreck it's a parody of a horror game, full of the trademark Nintendo charm. Whether it's a kitchen haunted by a ghost with a saucepan on his head, armed with a rolling pin; a couple of ghouls playing hockey; or flushing yourself down a toilet to teleport to another part of the house, it's (thankfully) not scary in the slightest.
Luckily for him, Luigi isn't expected to take on these spooky phantoms with just his cries of fright alone. Armed with his trusty torch, which just so happens to freeze sid ghosts, and his spectre-sucking vacuum cleaner, the Poltergust 5000, Luigi needs to shine his light on the spooks, Ghost Buster's style until they're safely sucked out of harm's way. It's not just a simple matter of pointing it in the right direction and holding down a button, either, as these ghosts are pretty crafty hurling books at Luigi to keep him at a distance, or grabbing a sheet of metal to shield themselves, you'll need to engage the old grey matter a bit when it comes to defeating them.
In fact, even once you've got a ghost in your grips though, they're not going to just come quietly, as they often go tearing around the room, dragging poor old Weegee with them, bouncing him off furniture in an attempt to escape the suction which is where the skill comes in, as you need to adjust your movement to avoid obstacles whilst simultaneously pulling away from the raging spectre until you reel them in - kind of like catching an undead fish.
In traditional Mario style, as you explore the haunted house, lighting up the rooms as you clear them of ghosts, you'll be collecting coins, bank notes and gems that you find scattered around the haunted buildings. Whether it's up in the rafters or hidden behind a fake wall, you'll find yourself searching every little nook and cranny for more money. Especially as the recession seems to have hit Professor E. Gadd pretty hard too, as his Poltergust 5000 is now coin operated using it for too long will start to really eat into your money reserves, so you'll need to ration the use of your vacuum cleaner a bit, particularly in rooms packed with pesky poltergeists.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon promises a much bigger and more varied game than the original, with a haunted clocktower, a snow covered chalet and a more traditional spooky mansion to contend with at least, as well as puzzles to solve as you explore. And while the nervous and reluctant Luigi just wants to get as far away as possible from the ghostly mansions, we can't wait to see what he has up those green sleeves when the game launches this Christmas time: