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Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: Big improvements seriously impress

Now the most anticipated game on 3DS?

This article originally appeared in Nintendo Gamer.

We have a confession to make. Until recently we weren't exactly bouncing off the walls with anticipation for what used to be known as Luigi's Mansion 2. Naturally, we enjoyed the GameCube original back in the day - but when we first tried an early version of the 3DS sequel at E3 2011 it just felt so... similar that we struggled to find ourselves getting excited for it.

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Yep, it was fun to see Luigi back in the starring role, but that early version of Luigi's Mansion 2 felt suspiciously more like fan service - "Hey, it's that GameCube game you loved before, but it's on 3DS now!" - than a truly improved version of what is (let's face it) a decade-old game. You'd have thought that in an entire decade the sequel would have looked a fair bit better, even though it's admittedly a handheld game now.

Changing rooms

It's for this reason that we didn't exactly run over to the newly-renamed Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon when we saw it on display at Nintendo's E3 showroom. We're nothing if not open-minded, though. By the end of our play session with it though, Dark Moon had become the 3DS game we're most excited about... by far. Zoinks!

The improvement this has made over 12 months is staggering...

The difference in this game from the one we saw 12 months ago is absolutely staggering, particularly when it comes to the animation. Whereas the version we played before had Luigi with a more or less permanent look of worry on his face, this time his mug is blazoned with a myriad of expressions. His entire face twists and bends as he runs through the whole gamut of emotions while exploring each of the three mansions available in the demo version we played. Happy Luigi! Bereft Luigi! Er, Luigi labouring under the bitter inheritance of sibling rivalry! He looks absolutely incredible - he's easily the most well-animated character we've seen to date in a Nintendo game, Mario Galaxy and the like included.

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The plot has been given a bit of a tweak this time too - in that there actually is one now. Instead of having to wander through a single mansion in search of the missing Mario as you did in the original game, this time Professor E Gadd dispatches you to a number of different mansions with zany missions to perform in each one. Some things haven't changed completely though: once again, you're armed with a torch and a Poltergust vacuum cleaner (the Dyson-esque 5000 model this time, not that banger of a 3000 from the previous game). This time, however, they've got different abilities and new upgrades.

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