I love busting ghosts in Luigi's Mansion 2 but it has a fatal flaw — here's my verdict

 Luigi holding the Poltergust 5000 in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.
Credit: Nintendo

Luigi's Mansion 2 review: Specs

Platforms:  Nintendo Switch
Price: $69/£49
Release Date: June 27, 2024
Genre: Puzzle/action-adventure

At this point, Luigi has become Nintendo’s drunken uncle at Christmas. He’s been around forever, a bit of a liability, and ultimately, you’d rather hang out with his much more popular brother when you’re breaking bread over festive poultry.

Long denied the limelight by his iconic plumber sibling, the Luigi’s Mansion series has given the ultimate support character an unlikely spotlight over the past 20-odd years. The trilogy of gently spooky puzzlers spans back to 2002’s GameCube original, and Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is a fairly exhaustive Nintendo Switch remaster of its 3DS sequel from 2013.

Few games have proved to be such an unlikely advert for the Nintendo Switch’s enduring ability to technically surprise despite its aging hardware than Luigi’s new remaster. Purely from a technical sense, the gorgeously tweaked sequel deserves a chance at Switch glory.

Developed by Next Level Games, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is definitely not a phoned-in remaster. Instead, it’s a committed (if overly expensive) redux that brings spooky fun and frustration with its occasionally devilish puzzles.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD: The Basics

  • What is it? A Nintendo Switch remaster of Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, which first launched for Nintendo 3DS back in 2013. Every single asset and texture has been remade in HD for this comprehensive remaster.

  • Who is it for? Fans of puzzles and anyone who has ever been the “Angry Luigi meme” while taking out a rival with a shell in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

  • What's the price? There’s only one version of Luigi’s Mansion 2 and it costs $59. It’s available digitally on the Nintendo eShop or you can buy the physical version.

  • What games is this similar to? It’s obviously quite like Luigi’s Mansion 3, yet the estate-hopping quest isn’t quite as inventive as the hotel-focused threequel.

Fright up my life

Luigi approaching a mansion during the night in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.
Luigi approaching a mansion during the night in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

First off, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is about as scary as a kitten with a blanket over its head. Its cheerful array of spooks doesn’t seem to mind being busted by carb-free Mario, and every cutscene pops with Nintendo's warmth and wit.

This is also one of the best-looking games on Nintendo Switch, despite its humble 3DS beginnings. Thanks to some of the finest jaggy-slaying anti-aliasing you’ll ever see in a Switch title, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD looks excellent in either 1080p in Docked mode or 720p in Handheld mode.

This ultra-attractive remake is a great advert for Nintendo Switch OLED in particular. The moodily lit corridors Luigi finds himself scuttling through — with all the enthusiasm of a turkey being told to vote that Thanksgiving should be a weekly event, at that — are given considerably more depth thanks to the infinite black levels the upgraded model’s OLED screen provides compared to the standard LCD version.

Because Luigi’s Mansion 2 presents such a consistently clean image, I’d actually argue that it looks better than Luigi’s Mansion 3 at times. Though admittedly, the Switch sequel boasts higher-quality character models. The point is, this gorgeous ghost hunter looks great, regardless of what model of Switch you’re playing on.

Gadd rags

Luigi and a friendly ghost dog staring at each other in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.
Luigi and a friendly ghost dog staring at each other in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

This being a Luigi’s Mansion game, there obviously needs to be a paranormal MacGuffin at play. Enter the Dark Moon. Well, when I say “enter,” I actually mean “shatter to pieces on impact." When the Dark Moon cracks over a collection of spooky mansions spread across Evershade Valley, it’s up to the ever-reluctant Luigi and the constantly patronizing yet bubbly Professor E. Gadd to recover its fragments across a variety of ghost-filled haunted houses.

Though the game’s story is basically limited to a bunch of cheerful, wordless cutscenes, the style they’re delivered with really impresses. It speaks to the canny and enduring camerawork of the 3DS original, while those close-up shots of Professor Gadd look a whole lot easier on the eye thanks to the quality of those new HD assets.

Every curtain, dusty rug (you can normally roll up for cash), haunted chainmail guard and web-covered corridor are entirely new — though the core gameplay from 2013 remains untouched. Whether this is your first time with Luigi’s Mansion 2 or you’re keen to relive this beautiful remake after completing the 3DS version back in the day, there’s no doubt sucking up spooks with the Poltergust 5000 has never looked better.

Gust down the door

Luigi trying to hoover up a ghost in Luigi's Mansion 2.
Luigi trying to hoover up a ghost in Luigi's Mansion 2.

Busting, predictably, continues to feel damn good. The original 3DS sequel did a lot to make its GameCube predecessor’s controls feel less awkward and more intuitive, and it's a testament to how well its approach to combat holds up 14 years after its initial release.

The tug-of-war battles you engage in with Boos, Greenies, Slammers and my personal favorite, the Jabba the Hutt-shaped, blindingly yellow Gobbers, provide an engaging gameplay loop. You daze them by holding down one of the face buttons to let off a ghost-dazing flash from your paranormal vacuum’s Strobulb attachment. Next, you hold the right trigger, then wriggle and wrestle with the analog sticks to push back and outmaneuver the struggles of the ghoul that is desperately trying not to be hoovered up. Drain the ghost’s stamina meter and they’ll soon pop down the nozzle straight into the Poltergust 5000’s seemingly bottomless vacuum bag.

Gameplay never evolves much past those basics, although that’s definitely not a diss. The fact that such simple but engrossing tug-of-war mechanics work so well across the entirety of Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD’s 10-15-hour campaign speaks volumes.

A puzzling case

Luigi with his vacuum attached to a floating pink balloon Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.
Luigi with his vacuum attached to a floating pink balloon Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

Despite those charming visuals giving your eyes a cartoon cuddle, there’s a reasonably challenging puzzler lurking underneath the halls of Everglade Valley’s ragtag collection of mansions. As someone who gets easily lost in games, I frequently found myself looking at YouTube guides more than I’d like to help me navigate through these labyrinthine haunted houses.

Once you gain your bearings in these constantly creaking corridors, solving puzzles normally involves retrieving mission-specific trinkets or completing a certain task, like cleaning up every cobweb in an entire mansion. How do you solve these conundrums? Normally by pulling on a chord, blowing on an overhead fan or shining the Dark-Light attachment’s beam over an invisible object of interest then hoovering up the resulting blobs of spectral energy.

If you often get easily flummoxed by puzzles or frustrated when you lose your way, Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD may provide more irritation than enjoyment. It took me a few hours until I was entirely keyed in on the game’s puzzle-solving patterns and occasionally discombobulating trinket hunts.

Save the day

Luigi being chased by a giant spider in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.
Luigi being chased by a giant spider in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

You know what’s a hell of a lot more frightening than any spook in Luigi’s Mansion HD 2? The total lack of mid-mission saves. Considering your average mission can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes (and a lot longer, should you get lost), being on the losing side in a battle with a Boo that costs you 25 minutes of progress is a punishing process I’ve gone through more than once during my time with this remaster.

It's baffling that Nintendo hasn’t introduced the sort of autosave feature you see in Luigi’s Mansion 3 for this HD update. Granted the second game is more bite-sized in nature because of its heavier focus on individual missions, but these objectives are still more than long enough to justify either manual or autosaves.

Time is precious. I resent the fact I was forced to replay significant sections of the game because I made one costly error against a ghost and there was no autosave to rescue my Boo-beaten bacon.

Scaring up a storm

Four different colored Luigis with flashlights in ScareScaper mode in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.
Four different colored Luigis with flashlights in ScareScaper mode in Luigi's Mansion 2 HD.

Luigi’s Mansion isn’t a series famed for its online achievements, and the Switch remaster hasn’t really sold me on the merits of the cowardly plumber’s attempts at co-op play. It doesn’t help that even though Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD has been out for less than a month at time of writing, I’m already struggling to find ScareScraper co-op sessions to join, such is the unreliability of the matchmaking system.

The few rounds I managed to join successfully have been a little overly hectic for my tastes. The four-player tower mode lets you team up with a trio of fellow online ghost hunters, while local co-op over Wi-Fi is also supported. You continue to climb as you vacuum up floors of stubborn spooks, but with four Poltergust 5000 streams violently swirling around the screen, the frantic action can quickly feel too exhausting to stay with ScareScraper for more than a few rounds at a time.

If I took a quick poll, I wouldn’t be shocked if most Switch owners would probably prefer to see Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD sell at a lower price if it meant jettisoning its online co-op mode. Perhaps if four plumbers vying to suck the most didn’t quickly become tiresome to watch, there would be more case for bringing back this barebones multiplayer effort. And I have to wonder if my matchmaking struggles speak to the fact a whole lot of players may have been put off by the game’s $59 price tag.

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD verdict

Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD is a remaster that has clearly had a lot of love poured into it. Replacing every in-game asset with an upgraded high-def surface or texture, it’s among the best-looking Switch games around. It also squeezes more out of the Nintendo Switch OLED’s stunning screen than the vast majority of titles I can think of.

Priced like a brand new game at $59 feels like a lot to pay for a remaster though, regardless of the amount of love and work that has gone into its development. The lack of mid-missions saves is also frustrating, and it’s an omission that time-poor Switch fans are going to quickly resent.

I’m hoping the Kyoto-based company eventually bundles this remaster with Luigi’s Mansion 3 and charges $50 or less for the collection. At that price, I’d be more charitable about repeating lengthy segments of gameplay because a Slammer cleaned my clock.