Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD Review – A Goofy And Spooky Adventure

A modest remaster of a contentious sequel.

When the original Luigi’s Mansion hit stores, I was excited to play it on my weirdly shaped purple console. It was something different. I didn’t think games could ever look better. It was a different time. So when Nintendo announced over a decade ago that they would be making a new one, imagine my disappointment to discover that it was on the 3DS and arguably looked worse. And it was mission-based, too.

A far cry from what I loved about the original, I put it down halfway through and never finished it. Now, Nintendo is bringing back Luigi’s Mansion 2, as the imaginatively named Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD. Is it as bad as I thought? Absolutely not. But it’s easy to see why it’s considered the weakest in the trilogy.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - Toads Hugs Luigi After Being Saved

Luigi’s Mansion 2 follows the first game’s events, though you don’t need to have played it to appreciate it. Sometime after the events of the first game, King Boo escapes the painting he was sealed in and shatters the Dark Moon, a large crystal object that was pacifying the ghosts living in the Evershade Valley. The ghosts run rampant, forcing Professor E. Gadd to take shelter in his bunker. In dire need of help, he contacts Luigi to help him out, outfitting him with a new Poltergust vacuum cleaner and sending him into the valley to collect the pieces of the Dark Moon. It’s a simple but effective story.

If you’ve previously played Luigi’s Mansion 3, you’d have a cursory understanding of how Luigi’s Mansion 2 works. Luigi is thrust into a decrepit location, forced to track down some ghosts, and eventually beat the big bad. It’s a simple premise – requiring Luigi to restore order to the Evershade Valley by collecting the parts of the Dark Moon. But what is different about Luigi’s Mansion 2, and separates it from the games that came before and after, is the way it’s structured.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - Luigi Encounters A Group Of Boos

Luigi’s Mansion 2 is in itself a misleading title. The game doesn’t occur in a mansion but in five different locations throughout the Evershade Valley. Each area has at least five missions to complete, and each taking between ten and twenty minutes.  They’re also all playfully inspired by a different style of horror, offering up a wide variety of locales for Luigi to scour for ghosts, treasure and whatever objects he’s looking for at that moment.

However, the mission-based gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion 2 has positive and negative impacts on the overall experience. The positive is that it really lends itself well to the portability of the Switch. Being able to knock out a few missions on your lunch break or commute will undoubtedly be appreciated by busy players. It also means that Luigi’s Mansion 2 feels more arcade-like compared to other games in the series. Missions are repeatable, with ranks assigned based on what you collect, how many ghosts you capture and your completion time.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - Luigi's Floating Up Past Vines With A Balloon

But while that’s a great twist for the series, it means a lot of what makes the other two games compelling is ultimately lost. The five smaller locations pale in comparison to the mansion of the original game or the hotel from the third game. There is no sense of place, and you only get a little time to learn the layout of these locales before being whisked off to the next one. It also means exploration feels less rewarding than in the other two games, as you’re often taken out of the action each time you uncover a new area to explore.


I criticized this in my preview, and unfortunately, it never gets better throughout the entirety of the game. Each time I’d find a new key item, rather than being allowed to go and use that item in a place I know it belongs, I’m taken out of the “mission” by Professor E. Gadd for a briefing of things I already knew before being thrown into the next mission to do things I was already going to do anyway. It feels unnecessarily disjointed, and given how much E. Gadd interrupts you during gameplay to offer tips or updates; the game never gives you room to breathe. It’s also disappointing to discover that there are no changes to the checkpoint system, so if you die towards the end of a mission, you’ll lose that progress.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - Luigi Carrying Fire Through A Tunnel

That being said, when you do get the opportunity to explore uninterrupted, Luigi’s Mansion 2 makes excellent use of the physics and mechanics of the Poltergust to provide some puzzles that are a joy to solve. They are the best kinds of puzzles, too, ones that make you feel wiser for solving them and continually require you to make use of Luigi’s tools. You might use the vacuum to grab a balloon and then suck or blow accordingly to inflate it to cross a large gap, for example. It makes no sense – the vacuum isn’t full of helium – but it’s so charming that it’s hard to care.

But the implementation of ghosts is spotty. I sincerely miss the designs of the ghosts from the first and third games, especially the first. Each felt like they had a personality and served a purpose in the mansion. In Luigi’s Mansion 2, they’re just coloured ghosts of varying sizes with predictable move sets. But despite this lack of unique design, the developers found interesting ways to keep the encounters engaging. For example, a plain ghost might start wearing sunglasses to shield himself from Luigi’s flashlight.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - A Possessed Spider Looks At Luigi

The same design quirks carry over to the game’s bosses. While the first, a spider, is quite interesting. Others aren’t anywhere near as charming or memorable. I was excited to see a ghost possess a giant clock, purely to see how it played out. It was, disappointingly, just a gauntlet of enemies, with a few spawning at each hour point on the clock. Others are more frustrating than fun, like the Icey mouth monster fought in the fourth area. Some are over so quickly that they feel underdeveloped, like the boss of the fifth area. I appreciated that the bosses have a puzzle element to them, but barring the first and last boss, most come up short.

As mentioned, the game’s arcade-like structure lends itself well to replayability. Each level has a Boo to find, which is usually hidden off the critical path and requires a combination of tools to capture. Finding each of the boos in each mansion will unlock an optional bonus level for that area. These bonus levels are a nice touch, throwing Luigi into a mansion and requiring him to capture a certain amount of ghosts within a time limit. You can also replay levels, if you wish, to raise extra cash to upgrade the Poltergust, but it’s by no means a requirement, given how relaxed the game’s difficulty is.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - Luigi Entering The Mansion

Similarly, Luigi’s Mansion 2 initially introduced multiplayer to the series, and I’m pleased to see it included here. Called The ScareScraper, it allows you and up to three other players climb a tower, completing challenges on each floor within a certain time limit. It’s a fast-paced and frenetic mode that perfectly plays to the strengths of Luigi’s Mansion 2’s arcade-like predilection. While I appreciate that local wireless and online play was included in this HD reissue, I’d have loved for them to go for some kind of local, same-console option.

But I can’t believe I’ve talked about a game with HD in the title for this long without touching on the presentation. Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is more than a simple bump in resolution – practically every major asset has been replaced to bring it more in line with Luigi’s Mansion 3. It’s not quite there in terms of looking as good as its sequel, but so much of the restoration efforts help bring the locales that Luigi visits to life. Little details, like the seam on Luigi’s overalls, weather lighting, and ghosts’ glow, help bring the game to life and ultimately make you forget that this was originally a 3DS game from over a decade ago.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review - Luigi Sneaking Over Ice WIth Toad

The original score is similarly excellent. While not as quiet or unnerving as the original game, the tracks are so cartoonishly over the top that they’re catchy more than anything else. Think of something you’d hear in an episode of Scooby Doo or any other cartoon from the 90s. It’s got a tone and feeling like no other. The catchiness is obvious, too, given that Luigi nervously hums many of the game’s music to himself as he explores the mansion. It’s incredibly charming and one of the many stern reminders of why Luigi’s Mansion as a series stands amongst some of Nintendo’s best.

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is exactly as it sounds. It's the second game in the series with a very fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately, while the visual upgrade is a decent effort, it ultimately still harbours the same design quirks that made the original game so controversial. While it falls flat in the face of the games that came before and after it, it's a great grab if you're looking to experience some more Luigi's Mansion.
Decent Visual Upgrade
Clever And Manageable Puzzles
Luigi Is Charming As Ever
Mission-Based Gameplay Brings Down Atmosphere
Ghost And Boss Encounters Are Mixed
No Improvements Or Quality Of Life Changes