Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD Preview – A Modest Improvement

The Poltergust is anything but bust.

Nintendo has been having one lately with games I have never finished. But while last month’s Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was simply a game I never played, Luigi’s Mansion 2 was slightly different. I played it, but for some reason, I never played beyond the first few missions. It’s still on my shelf, staring at me as I write this, longingly wondering why I abandoned it so hastily eleven years later. One reason is that I don’t have a Nintendo 3DS anymore. I’d argue most people don’t.

So, it seems reasonable that Nintendo would touch the game up for the Nintendo Switch to bring it more in line with Luigi’s Mansion 3. I’ve had some time with the opening chapters of the imaginatively named Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD. While it’s unlike any other Luigi’s Mansion games, I’m enjoying it more this time, even if I have some concerns.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Preview - Professor E. Gadd Is Attacked By Ghosts

Luigi’s Mansion 2 follows on directly from the first game. King Boo, angry after the events of the first game, shatters the Dark Moon, which is an essential element to pacifying the many ghosts that inhabit the Evershade Valley. The ghosts living in the valley become hostile, forcing Professor E. Gadd to take shelter in his bunker. Needing help, he contacts Luigi, outfits him with a new Poltergust and sends him into many different mansions to collect the pieces of the Dark Moon. It’s a simple story that I’ve yet to completely experience, but it seems decent enough to keep the action moving along.

Playing through the first few hours of Luigi’s Mansion 2, its origins as a handheld game were immediately apparent. Where both Luigi’s Mansion and Luigi’s Mansion 3 had you exploring a large and open environment akin to games like Resident Evil, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is split into mission-based levels. There are multiple mansions now, too, and while this preview only covers the first two, there are various missions to complete in each. The first mansion ends with a mission to retrieve the first fragment of the Dark Moon. Once you have, you can move on to the second one, and I can only assume the rest of the game will play out similarly.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Preview - Luigi Scared In The Bathroom

Each mission will have a specific objective for Luigi to complete, usually while introducing a new enemy, item or boss to defeat. You are scored at the end of your mission depending on how many ghosts you collect, the damage you take and the money you collect. It all lends itself to a much more arcade-like experience, but the gaps between each mission take you out of the atmosphere regularly. An example. Luigi will find a key to a door, but before we can even go back and unlock that door, we’re whisked away to the Professor to be debriefed before moving on to the next mission, where we can actually find the door to unlock. It probably worked better on the 3DS, but playing this at home can feel slightly disjointed.

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The plus side to this is that Luigi’s Mansion 2 suits itself perfectly to pick up and play sessions, especially when you’re on the go on the Switch. But as someone who plays mainly on my TV (and yes, I know I’m in the minority), it does feel at odds with the game’s sense of immersion. It also removes any tension when I’m on low health towards the end of a mission but am whisked away to a safe room to have my health recovered before I continue on with the next one.

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Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Preview - Luigi Battles A Boo In The Dining Room

Luigi’s Mansion 2 still feels good to play despite the overarching design issue I have with it. The premise is still the same as the other games – you’re exploring spooky locales with Luigi and using the Poltergust to suck up and interact with as much in the environment as you can to help hunt down ghosts. I was worried that Luigi’s Mansion 2 would feel like a regression compared to Luigi’s Mansion 3. Thankfully, while Gooigi is obviously missing, it still plays just as well as it did all those years ago. Those who love gyro aiming will be pleased to know it can also be used to aim Luigi’s Poltergust.

But the presentation is easily where the most care and attention has gone into Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD. The game feels like it’s been built from the ground up to take advantage of Switch hardware, with many new textures and improved models helping to give the game a glow-up that brings it more in line visually with Luigi’s Mansion 3. Even the little details, like the seams on Luigi’s overalls, help to make Luigi’s Mansion 2 look much more than a 3DS game released over a decade ago.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Preview - Luigi Battles A Ghost In The Library

As with any preview, I do have some reservations. The ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion feel like a bit of a step back from the original game, where each of them felt like they had a story or a role to play in the context of the mansion itself. Instead of that, in Luigi’s Mansion 2, the ghosts appear more simplistic, and I hope that there is enough variety to sustain the rest of the game’s runtime. And, like previously mentioned, I have to wonder if the game’s mission-based gameplay will also grow grating as time goes by.

Despite all the visual improvements, Luigi’s Mansion 2 plays just as it did all those years ago. The fact that it’s still so playable after so long with minimal improvements is certainly a compliment to the developers and a testament to the strength of the experience. It won’t change the minds of people who find it to be the weakest in the trilogy when it launches later this month. But I’m enjoying it for what it is so far, even if it’s one of the more modest remakes in Nintendo’s burgeoning canon.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Preview - Luigi Walking Through The First Mansion's Garden

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD launches for Nintendo Switch on June 27th 2024. You can pre-order it now on Amazon for $69 with free shipping and pre-order price guarantee.