It has been twelve years since Luigi first ventured into a haunted house to hunt ghosts. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon gives players the opportunity to take up Luigi’s ghost hunting mantle again in this fun and relatively solid title for the 3DS. The good news is that for most disabled players this game won’t pose any problems. But there is one group with physical disabilities that should probably avoid this game completely.
Players with visual disabilities will be happy to know that there are some features in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon that make it particularly accessible for their situation. The art style is overstated, which makes even the most subtle detail easy to see. As a result, even when a puzzle requires players to suck up pieces of wallpaper to reveal hidden doors, it is fairly obvious where these sections are because of the way Nintendo has presented the game visually.
Even more impressive is that fact that the mini-map is not so mini. It takes up the entire second screen on the 3DS, which by itself would make it easy to read. But combine that with the zoom slider that the developers have included, and you have a map interface that allows players with visual disabilities to see exactly where they are with ease.
And while it is true that the different types of ghosts are denoted by color, they all have distinct features and are all dealt with in relatively similar ways. You may have to take a few steps in order to make them vulnerable, but they all end up in the same place—inside the Poltergust 5000.
Players with auditory disabilities will have even fewer problems since, true to the Mario Bros. formula, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon features very little verbal dialogue to begin with and don’t use sound to communicate anything important. The story is communicated by reading the blocks of large, legible text that appear whenever a character is speaking. Perhaps the only regrettable thing is that players with auditory disabilities may miss out on the adorable sound design, including listening to Luigi hum along to his own theme song when the action slows down.
However, the game loses almost all of its playability when looked at from the standpoint of fine motor disabilities. There are several instances in which players will have to use the D-pad and hold down the B button to make Luigi run. This means that the game must be played with two hands. Furthermore, players will have to aim the Poltergust with the X and A buttons while either using it to vacuum or blow away obstacles. This means that players must be able to use multiple fingers on either hand in order to progress through this game. Furthermore, if players hope to suck up pieces of the environment, they will have to pull one direction on the D-pad, fire the vacuum function, and hit the A button. All of this indicates that puzzles in Luigi’s Mansion also require precise timing.
But here’s the kicker. I encountered multiple versions of all of those barriers within the first five minutes of gameplay. The result was that after an hour, my fingers were so tired that I couldn’t go on. This is not to say that Luigi’s Mansion is completely inaccessible for people with fine motor disability. But the finger gymnastics are so taxing that it will require lots of perseverance to slowly progress through each level. Thankfully, the game is forgiving enough to make this possible.
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The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
– The game uses an easy-to-see, overstated art style.
– The different types of ghosts are distinguished by color.
– The game is forgiving enough that most of the barriers can be overcome with lots of perseverance.
– The game cannot be played with less than two hands.
– The game does not rely on sounds to communicate anything important.