Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Review: A Passable Port That Should Offer More

The Nintendo Switch remaster offers improved visuals and not much else.

Striking the balance between challenge and accessibility is something that Nintendo does better than most video game companies, especially when it comes to the Mario franchise and its spinoffs. Games like Super Mario Bros. Wonder can be appreciated by players of all ages, while still offering a steep challenge for those that want one. Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is a rare exception, offering a bit more challenge than some players might expect, and it's done in a way that feels outdated. Unfortunately, it brings down an experience that would otherwise be a lot more enjoyable on Nintendo Switch

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is the latest in a line of remasters brought over to Nintendo Switch this year. While remasters like Another Code: Recollection and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door have offered some nice quality-of-life improvements over their original versions, Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is a lot more faithful to the game that released more than a decade ago on 3DS. The 3DS version was always a good-looking game, but Nintendo did an excellent job improving the visuals on Switch. Given the strength of the animation in the game, that's a very good thing; original developer Next Level Games did an excellent job bringing this world to life, and it's great to see that carried over on Nintendo Switch. 

A Subpar Save System  

(Photo: Nintendo)

The key problem with Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is that it's a remaster that fails to resolve the biggest issue present in the original game: its save system. The save system was already outdated in 2013 when Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon released on 3DS, and 11 years later, it feels absolutely archaic. As I mentioned in my hands-on preview earlier this month, the save system already seemed like a point of frustration early on, and as I spent more time with the game, it felt like a black cloud hanging over the entire experience. I was constantly worried that a ghost encounter would wipe out a good chunk of my progress for the day. 

In Luigi's Mansion 2 HD, players visit a variety of locations in Evershade Valley, an area normally inhabited by peaceful ghosts. However, the shattering of the Dark Moon has made them antagonistic, and it's up to Luigi to find the fragments and restore peace. Each area is broken up into multiple levels, with Luigi being sent in by professor E. Gadd, accomplishing a set task, and then being transported back to the bunker before the next mission. The mission-based structure is where the save system becomes problematic; the game only saves after each level is completed. 

(Photo: Nintendo)

The save system wouldn't be so frustrating if missions were shorter, but each one can last from 15-45 minutes. This means that if Luigi goes "good night" in the middle of a mission, players have to do it all over again from the start. Every single dollar, coin, and treasure goes right back to where it was, and every ghost and puzzle has to be tackled over again. It's incredibly frustrating, and it's much easier to run out of health than players might anticipate. A room filled with multiple ghosts can quickly result in a "good night" screen, and the vast majority of these encounters can't be avoided. The controls can also make it hard to quickly pivot to a ghost attacking from behind; a quick turn button would have been hugely helpful in that regard. Basically, there's not a lot of room for error, and that's baffling in a game that's supposed to be aimed at players of all ages. 

This problem wouldn't be so frustrating if it wasn't already an issue in the 3DS version. The fact that it was left as is, even when last year's Super Mario RPG remake made changes to its save system, is frankly baffling. It also makes the overall experience less enjoyable; on second attempts, I often found myself rushing past treasures I had previously located so I could get back to where I left off, and it's easy to imagine a lot of other players doing the same. Players can get a second chance at survival if they happen to find the mission's single Polterpup bone (which replenishes Luigi's full health once after dying), but it's not a suitable replacement for a real save system. 

Strong Foundations

The shame is, fixing the save system would have made Luigi's Mansion 2 HD a much easier recommendation. All of the things that worked in the 3DS version are also present, and they look better than ever. There's a brilliant balance between spookiness and humor, and part of that is owed to Charles Martinet's performance as Luigi. Martinet really brings the character to life in the game, channeling his cowardly nature while still making the audience root for the guy. There are also some genuinely creepy moments throughout, and while they're never on the level of Resident Evil or Silent Hill, they create a strong atmosphere. 

(Photo: Nintendo)

One thing that should satisfy players is the length. It should take most people somewhere between 10-15 hours to complete the main campaign, and that's not accounting for the multiplayer. ScareScraper offers various modes that can be played locally and online, offering co-op play that also encourages a bit of competition. In a nice touch, the money players earn in multiplayer contributes to upgrades for Luigi's tech in the single-player campaign, which means players can earn them a little bit faster. 

Like the mansions of Evershade Valley, Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is haunted by the ghosts of the past. With Luigi's Mansion 2 HD, Nintendo had a perfect opportunity to revise the worst aspect of the original, and offer the definitive version of an already well-liked game. Instead, it feels like a much harder recommendation, especially for anyone that already played this on 3DS. A good remaster shouldn't just replicate the previous game with a new coat of paint; it should polish up the best aspects of a game while fixing parts that were broken or haven't aged well. That clearly didn't happen, and it feels like a huge missed opportunity. Despite its flaws however, I find myself eager to try out Luigi's Mansion 3, and that's a testament to everything Luigi's Mansion 2 HD does right. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Luigi's Mansion 2 HD is set to release June 27th, exclusively on Nintendo Switch. A code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch OLED.