Sometimes, you get lucky living near a major city. Exciting things can happen on the periphery. In this case, it was the local Dave & Buster’s being picked as a test location for Capcom and Nintendo’s Luigi’s Mansion Arcade, a light gun game based on Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS. And when I say based on, I mean you will experience serious deja vu “walking” through Gloomy Manor.
Of course, you aren’t using light guns in this game. You’ve got Luigi’s vacuum, the Poltergust 5000. As in the previous games, ghosts must be stunned before being sucked up. While being vacuumed, they might fight back, requiring a player to move the nozzle back and forth to wear the spirit out. If you’ve played any other entries, you’ll have no trouble adapting to the situation, despite the language barrier. Just remember the top button is the flashlight, the trigger button starts the Poltergust 5000, and the bomb button stuns everything onscreen.
Even the enemies are the same. The Gloomy Manor I visited was inhabited by Greenies, Slammers and Hiders from the first game. Greenies are your standard spirits, appearing in basic and armored varieties in Luigi’s Mansion Arcade. Once you reach the hall, the large, red Slammers show up. These are slightly stronger than normal ghosts, and put up more of a fight when being sucked up. Hiders appeared later in the chapter and are the skinny, blue folks that like to hide in vases and things, occasionally throwing things at you when you’re not looking. It’s only the first-person perspective and on-rails exploration that’s new.
But that isn’t what makes this spinoff distinctive. The thing about Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is that it felt as though it were designed with the multiplayer experience in mind. Gloomy Manor requires a player to go through six rooms, with the third and fifth rooms having two options to choose from. The sixth is a boss battle. Since I was playing alone, I did not reach that sixth room. Though there never seemed to be more than four ghosts assaulting me at once, they were attacking in such a way that it was impossible to stun all of them with the flashlight at once on my own. At most, I could paralyze two. The Poltergust 5000 only seemed to be able to suck up one at a time. Had someone been with me, reaching that sixth room on a single credit may have been plausible. As is, I made it through Gloomy Manor on four credits.
While the promise of ghost hunting with a buddy is a draw, what really sells this experience is the Poltergust 5000. This is no ordinary light gun. It’s equipped with mechanisms that interact with actions performed in the game. When you suck up a coin, there’s a jarring movement that makes it feel as though you sucked an item up into the peripheral. When a ghost is fighting you and you need to whip the nozzle to tire it out, you feel resistance at the other end of the line. It’s as though you were fishing and reeling in a catch. There’s even some minor vibration when charging the flashlight. It creates a sense of immersion you wouldn’t expect with such a cartoonish creation.
Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is a charming experience you should share with a friend. It’s worth playing for the experience of using that Poltergust 5000 alone. It’s a very cool peripheral and some interesting technology is employed to make people feel like expert ghost hunters. If you happen to be around the Dave & Buster’s at 1155 N. Swift Rd. in Addison, Illinois, you can check it out too, but for now, it’s the only North American test location.