Luigi's Mansion 2 HD Preview: I Ain't Afraid of No Ports

Does the Switch game offer a significant leap over the 3DS version?

With a successor to the Switch set to be revealed sometime within the next year, Nintendo has been leaning on its back catalog of games to keep a steady stream of exclusives on its current system. This year has already seen remasters like Another Code: Recollection and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and we'll see yet another soon with the release of Luigi's Mansion 2 HD. Ahead of the game's release later this month, ComicBook had a chance to go hands-on to see how it compares to the version that was released in 2013 on Nintendo 3DS. 

For those unfamiliar with the series, Luigi's Mansion is basically an all-ages take on the original Resident Evil game. Luigi explores spooky locations and solves puzzles in order to open up additional areas to explore. The biggest difference is that, rather than fighting and dodging zombies or other T-Virus mutations, Luigi is hunting ghosts with his trusty Poltergust 5000. Luigi's Mansion 2 HD sees the titular character once again allied with Professor E. Gadd as they try to uncover the secrets of the Dark Moon. The previously pacified spirits of Evershade Valley have suddenly become a lot more antagonistic, and it's up to Luigi to set things right. 

A Fresh Coat of Paint

(Photo: Nintendo)

Right off the bat, players will notice some nice visual improvements over the original 3DS version. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon was no slouch on 3DS, but Nintendo has polished things up quite a bit for this Nintendo Switch release. Playing the two versions side-by-side, I noticed that Luigi's character model in particular has gotten some nice improvements, with his overalls showing much greater stitching and detail. Obviously, the big trade-off is that the stereoscopic 3D from Dark Moon is not carried over, but that's not a huge loss given how it could be a hassle with the game's gyro aiming. 

Speaking of the game's aiming, another improvement with Luigi's Mansion 2 is that players now have a stick on the right-hand side of the controller or Joy-Con to work with. Aiming in the 3D version was all gyro based before, and while that's still an option, it's nice to have two different choices. It certainly helps, as the game's controls can feel a bit cumbersome at times. Early into the game, I'm finding that simultaneously moving, aiming, and using the Strobulb to stun ghosts isn't quite as intuitive as I'd like, and I'll be interested to see if I get more acclimated to it as time goes on. 

(Photo: Nintendo)

Like many 3DS games, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon used the system's the bottom screen to keep the map accessible without having to swap between menus. Luigi's Mansion 2 HD has gotten around Switch's single-screen restriction by placing a decent-sized map in the screen's top right corner. The placement is actually pretty convenient, and the map is even transparent, so it never becomes obtrusive. This is probably one of the best workarounds I've seen from a DS-era port, but players have the option of toggling the map off if they don't feel as strongly about its inclusion. 

Faithful Remaster, Faithful Problems

So far, Luigi's Mansion 2 HD feels pretty faithful to the version that released more than a decade ago. On the one hand, that's a good thing, as the core gameplay remains enjoyable. However, it also means that some of the game's issues have also been carried over. The biggest of these is the way that saves are handled. The game has a mission-based approach that was designed specifically with portable play in mind. Unfortunately, Luigi's Mansion 2 HD only saves after you complete each mission, and there's no ability to manually save the game. This can cause extra tension in tougher ghost encounters or in missions where you might get stuck on a puzzle and need to take a breather. The sleep feature is a blessing in the latter regard, but if you need to switch over to a different game or Switch app, you're out of luck; another great case for implementing something like Quick Resume on Nintendo's next console

(Photo: Nintendo)

A couple of hours in, Luigi's Mansion 2 HD seems like it's shaping up to be the definitive version of what was already a pretty good game. The graphics are a nice leap over the 3DS version, and some smart design decisions help to alleviate the loss of the 3DS system's second screen. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have much in terms of the quality-of-life improvements we saw in last month's Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remaster, or the new content we got in Mario vs. Donkey Kong. As I get deeper into the game, I'll be interested to see if there's more to this remaster. Nintendo Switch players will be able to find that out for themselves when Luigi's Mansion 2 HD releases on June 27th. 

Do you plan on checking out Luigi's Mansion 2 HD? Did you play the original version on 3DS? Share your thoughts with me directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp, on Bluesky at @Marcdachamp, or on Instagram at @Dachampgaming!