In the Poltergust, meanwhile, we have the most versatile item never to appear in Link's rucksack. Applied in the right way, the nozzle can roll carpets, trigger explosions, heave objects, stoke flames... even play ice hockey. Actually, screw Link - the Poltergust puts his similar Gust Bellows to shame. Wait, what's that? The Gust Bellows blow sand? Ha! The Poltergust blows sand for breakfast. Then washes it down with some wallpaper ripping and carpet yanking.
And it's all done with such a tangible sense of tactility: the stretch of a spider's web, the swift yank of tablecloth or the rattling rotation of a ceiling fan blasted by a gust. We spent many minutes just marvelling at the animations, aimlessly sucking up wisps of shower mist or rattling pots on a spice rack. Combat is livened no end by the crunchy flash of the Strobulb and the sense of snarling bite when you hit the A-Pull sweet spot. And if you don't grin when you take down your first Boo, there's no helping you.
Gorgeous 3D feeds the physicality. Viewing the game in cross-section is akin to peeking into an ornate dollhouse; an idea the developers borrow for one brain-frying sight gag. Tilting the rooms using the gyroscopes only furthers the illusion of a physical place held between the hands. Even light has a sense of depth, in the way a body of dust is lit by a Strobulb flash or how torchlight appears to bounce off the front screen. It's Nintendo's best 3D to date.
It's partnered by visual trickery - particle effects, lighting and shadows - that shouldn't be possible on the humble handheld. An icy level, full of tumbling snow and reflective glaciers, is a standout, as are the hulking brutes unleashed for boss encounters. Some may mourn the loss of the first game's gothic murk - spooks are more generic than the portrait ghosts - but the world is too lip-smackingly lush to stay mad at.
Spook Too Soon
This isn't a world you want to rush through. Each stage is crammed with crannies, hidden rooms and secret portals that whisk you to 15-second bursts of madcap fun - not unlike Super Mario 3D Land's isometric hidey-holes. Stages are littered with breadcrumb trails of trinkets - gold stashes, hidden gems and secret Boos - requiring you to really engage with your surroundings and pick over every single prop. It's a subtle means of enforced art design appreciation, and why not?
If the game does slip up, it's due to a disjoint between this meticulous nit-picking and Waltzer blur of arcade combat. Death, though rare, forces Luigi to restart missions from scratch, punishing 30 seconds of weak defence with up to half an hour of collecting treasure and solving puzzles for a second time. On the plus side, it offers some impetus to hunt down golden bones (offering a restart) and gets adrenaline pumping in later stages, but it feels like rough justice when you make a silly mistake in a surprise ambush.
We're not fans of Luigi's Dark-Light, either. With the ability to fill in invisible objects and highlight spectral trails, the lens is meant to add a hint of CSI to the proceedings. It's CSI, alright: a Crummy Spectral Irritation. Dark-Light puzzles mainly involve pointing at obvious gaps or tracking paw prints to one of two possible rooms. A Boo-hunting side-quest is a particular pain: shining a torch on every surface until you find one missing pixel isn't our idea of fun.
Even this faffy device redeems itself in the end, however, playing a key role in a moment that had us grinning like simpletons. For as much as Luigi's Mansion 2 acts like the class clown, all shrieks and pratfalls, it has more heart than any game in recent memory. When it isn't yanking them out of ghost chests, naturally. So man up, Luigi and embrace your applause. The only thing to fear is that it takes another 10 years to return.
Luigi's Mansion 2 is one of the best 3DS games.