One of the complaints levelled at Luigi's GameCube-shifting original, back in 2002, was that it was simply too short. Weighing in at a little under four hours, Luigi's Mansion was a lean distraction as early adopters awaited the full-fat Super Mario Sunshine that appeared later that year.
In long-awaited sequel Luigi's Mansion 2, however, that particular whinge has been well and truly dealt with. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's huge, boasting a 15-20 hour main story and overflowing with genuine, compelling reasons to keep it wedged in your 3DS' rear slot.
This time out Luigi's summoned by returning professor Elvin Gadd to recover pieces of the Dark Moon. This usually sky bound artefact (which was dropped from the American subtitle of the game for its European release) prevents the ghosts of Everglade Valley from spiralling off into rascally abandon. When it's mysteriously pilfered and split into pieces the apparitions of the valley go bananas. Clearly a hero is needed to plumb the local spectral haunts, so with Poltergust 5000 in tow - essentially a vacuum cleaner for ghosts - the leaner, greener Mario brother sets out.
As he gibbers and shakes his way through each mansion, terrified by anything and everything going, it's impossible not to be charmed. This is in no small part due to Charles Martinet's fantastic voice work, with 'waaahhh's and 'oh-no no no!'s aplenty, not to mention the endearing 'yello?' whenever E. Gadd gives our hero a call on his Dual-Scream (an original DS, used in the game as a radio and map tool). Character animations are also superb. Luigi's hands shiver with trepidation as he reaches for a door knob, his thumbs twiddle nervously while riding a lift (complete with the game's infinitely hummable theme tune, reinterpreted in an elevator-perfect muzak style) and every other room contains slapstick waiting to be triggered.
And there's plenty of slapstick. Luigi constantly falls for ghosts' Home Alone booby traps, trapping himself in a sun lounger, tumbling down stairs or even getting sprayed by a sabotaged toilet flush. Even the 'mission complete' signals make the chap practically jump out of his overalls.
The mansions range from typical haunted house fare to sand-filled Egyptian crypts
The game's mansions and their spectral denizens are just as compelling. Locate each piece of the Dark Moon and a section of fog clears revealing another mansion to explore. These range from a typical haunted house, such as the Gloomy Mansion opener, to ice dwellings and sand-filled Egyptian crypts.
Each is split up into smaller objective fuelled stages lasting around 15-30 minutes each and E. Gadd's Pixelshifter device teleports Luigi to various locations, cutting down on backtracking time. All this means that Luigi's Mansion 2 is more suited for relatively quick-fire, on-the-go gaming. It even integrates an Angry Birds-like three-star system to measure your success against.