It's amazing to think that Luigi's Mansion came out over a decade ago. It was a rather interesting launch title when you think about it. It wasn't a Mario game and it actually had him kidnapped. There were no worlds or jumping, you were confined to a dark and gloomy mansion. It was a horror comedy that worked. Luigi was recognized as his own character, it's actually almost sad that in these ten years he hasn't gotten a game to himself. In the Mario platformers he had been reduced to almost not appearing. (Or worst, looking like a total fool in Galaxy.) A sequel has always been talked about, I'm almost shocked it didn't get a Wii re-release. I'm thankful it actually got a sequel as opposed to it getting remade for the 3DS like Ocarina of Time. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon isn't a cash-in by any means, it's a very solid sequel that is surprisingly long and challenging. It may trade horror for gameplay, but you'll be engaged the whole time.
The story is actually pretty good, not that the first one wasn't, but here the plot gets really grand as you play. King Boo shatters the 'Dark Moon,' which causes the friendly ghosts to go haywire. Professor E. Gadd calls in Luigi, since he's a professional. Despite not being the most brave person, the green-hatted hero embarks on a journey through five mansions to find the shattered pieces of the Dark Moon. In all adds up to one epic final showdown with the King of Boos himself. Obviously it's not heavy on the cutscenes, but I do appreciate how big it got later on. King Boo might be the most underrated Nintendo villain, which is sad since he's pure evil, funny, and has a great design. Easily superior to Bowser villain wise, it's a shame Nintendo won't use more of him in bigger things. But, let's talk about the core of the game.
There are quite a few references to the first game, but obviously you don't need to play it to understand the sequel. (It does however help you have a deeper appreciation for it.) Luigi gets equipped with the Poltergust 5000 early on, an upgrade to the 3000 from the first game. It works like a charm with the flashlight, nothing beats the satisfaction of sucking in a ghost. The game is very similar gameplay wise as the first one. The major difference is that there's more than one mansion to explore, five to be exact. All of them are unique, we have the standard one, a snowy one, a desert one, a greenhouse one, and the grand final one. It definitely adds more game time to the play-through. Speaking of that, Dark Moon is impressively long, it will take you over 10 hours to complete it the first time around. So the complaint saying the first was too short is fixed here. The boss fights are very challenging, the idea of Possessor Ghosts is very good. Dark Moon will challenge even the most veteran of Mario players.
The final battle was pretty awesome to say the least. The cutscene presiding it was even more epic however. King Boo is not only an evil villain, he's a twisted villain, he'll mock you and laugh in your face. One of his lines are "And now I'm going to paint the town red!" That's pretty dark for a Mario game. We also see he wants to become 'supreme ruler of the world.' You can see just how grand the story becomes. Besides the Boo leader, highlights include Professor E. Gadd and the title hero himself. E. Gadd is a blast to watch with his laugh and humor, it's a shame he hasn't appeared in a canon game since the first Luigi's Mansion. Luigi is his usual cowardly self, which is funny and annoying at the same time. The ending was very nice to see, we've almost never seen Mario and Luigi act so brotherly to each other. The soundtrack is solid. Admittedly it wasn't as great as I had expected, but it still fits the atmosphere of each mansion well enough.
Overall, Dark Moon is a high quality sequel to one of the premiere Gamecube games. It has a good length, the story is egaging, the characters are funny, and it has a fantastic antagonist. The dog missions might drive you a little insane, but you will in the end like that annoying ghost pup. This game also shows us Luigi's house for the first time. While it lacks the free roaming that made the first game unique, the mission based system does give the player more of a set purpose each time. Then again, that could take away the exploration people loved of the first one. Either way, it's a solid game to pick up and is definitely worth the $40.