Luigi's Mansion 2 is a game that doesn't really fit into any one genre or category all that well. Putting you in the shoes of faithful plumber and Mario brother Luigi, it's up to you to head to five haunted mansions, in an effort to retrieve the fragments of the Dark Moon - a mysterious gem that had kept the ghosts in the Evershade Valley under control, until it got shattered.
Exploring each of the haunted mansions, you'll have to solve puzzles, look out for secrets, and fend off any ghosts you come across as you move from room to dusty room - but this being a Nintendo game, the way you do this is a little bit different to how you'd expect. Rather than have some elaborate ghost trapping device, instead, Luigi comes armed with only a torch and a vacuum. Should you spot a ghost (and they're often not visible for that long), all you have to do is spin around and zap it with your torch by pressing A, before pressing the R Button to suck it up with your vacuum. Job's a good-un.
While the puzzles in the game aren't quite brain benders, they do require a fair knowledge of how things interact in the real world. Requiring you hold a bucket under a drain pipe to collect water in order to water a flower, or set fire to a log, or a lump of coal, so you can melt some ice, other puzzles even ask you to think about weights. One puzzle sees you standing on a platform that sinks when you step on it, but won't go down far enough for you to be able to access the room below. In order to make it descend properly, you'll have to pick up a bucket with your vacuum, fill it with goo, and then stand on the platform again, where your combined weight will weigh it down properly. Another puzzle in the game revolves around clocks, asking you to set a digital clock to the same time as an analogue display, which may be a challenge for younger children.
While none of the puzzles are impossible for a child to solve, the chances are there are a fair few that may leave them stumped - which is why it's a shame that there's nothing in the way of pointers. Certain puzzles require you to find hidden objects, which are only visible to your dark light torch, but there's nothing to hint at where these objects are. If your child comes up against a puzzle, and doesn't immediately see the answer, it's possible younger children may find themselves stuck for quite some time, as there's no hints system in the game, even when you get properly stuck. While it may not cause too much of a problem for older children who're more confident problem solvers, younger children may stumble if playing on their own.
Being a confident reader is a must here, too, as mission objectives, tutorials, and important plot points are all delivered through text, with no voice overs. Sample sentences include: "If this whole ghost hunting thing doesn't work out, you may have a future as a plumber!" and, on the trickier end of things, "Some determined geologists set up a mining operation in these snowcapped mountains, but they got scared and abandoned it when the ghosts moved in!"
Although it's set in a series of haunted houses, there's little for parents to be concerned about here. While younger children may not like the ghosts, it's actually much less scary than a ghost train, as there's nothing that looks genuinely frightening. The vast majority of the ghosts simply look like a different coloured version of Casper, with the only vaguely realistic looking enemy being a mummy - but even then, all you have to do is suck the bandages off to reveal a ghost on stilts!
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS