Super Mario 3DS vs. Luigi’s Mansion 2

Mario games are synonymous with the Nintendo brand. If you own a Nintendo platform, be it a home console or portable device, chances are you’ve paid some amount of cash for a Mario game. This is partially because as Nintendo console owners, most of us like to revisit the good old days when Mario was the king of gaming. Another reason is the sheer immense quality of titles such as Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, the original Super Mario Bros., and the countless other titles in the franchise that have proven to be some of the most memorable experiences, not just in Nintendo, but in all of gaming.

The next big entry in the storied platforming series is Super Mario 3DS for Nintendo’s latest dual screen handheld. Mario will stomp on Goombas, take on big bosses, and don the classic Tanooki Suit as he travels through colorful worlds filled to the brim with run-and-jump goodness. Of course, the iconic Mario won’t be the only Nintendo character to make his big splash on the 3DS. It appears the more timid of the two Mario brothers will also be making his much-awaited return to gaming and his first appearance on the handheld. Scheduled to land sometime after Mario’s 3D escapade, Luigi’s Mansion 2 will see the return of the ghost-hunting Luigi as he explores mansions and collects the creepy Boos.

Both of these titles are incredibly promising and seem like they will be must-buys for the 3DS. But which Mario brother has the edge? Is Super Mario 3DS worth getting more excited over? Or does Luigi’s Mansion 2 deserve more hype from gamers?

It often seems like Mario can’t disappoint. Practically every entry in the main series has managed to deliver quality platforming. Whether you’re playing 3D exploratory platformers such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 or side-scrollers the likes of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it’s hard to find massive flaws in these games. With this kind of track record, it’s impossible not to get excited for the impending release of Super Mario 3DS. The game has the potential to be the next big Mario title (literally). And its status as a portable title is certainly no detriment to that, as was most recently evidenced by the wonderful and critically successful New Super Mario Bros. for the DS.

All hype aside, Mario games are usually pretty kick-ass. And judging from what I’ve seen of Super Mario 3DS, in conjunction with GameZone’s preview of the game, there’s no denying the platformer is going to be made of pure win. Goombas, Koopa shells, and raccoon tails are just the beginning. There’s also a full 3D landscape to run through in a lot of the game’s levels. While the plain may be a bit more restrictive than Mario’s previous interplanetary adventure on the Wii, Super Mario 3DS packs a ton of charm and style. The best part of it is that, like so many Mario games before it, Super Mario 3DS manages to offer something new for gamers all while stuffing loads of retro goodness into the package.

While we can talk about how much Mario games drip of old school appeal, Luigi’s Mansion 2 probably won’t offer much in the retro department. The series is, after all, quite new. Sure, it made its debut on the GameCube at the beginning of the last console generation, but with only one game to its name, Luigi’s Mansion is definitely a fresh IP. And unlike the Mario series with its glorious hype to back it up, Luigi’s resume is a bit more bare-bones. Not only that, but the green-clad Italian plumber is hardly as likeable as his more rotund brother.

But even though Luigi might not be as respected and admired as Mario, there’s no forgetting the absolute delight that Luigi’s Mansion delivered to the many GameCube owners who played it. The game was a completely different experience from anything Mario had done before him, and it was a hell of a good time. Luigi set himself up for success by doing something Mario never had: explore creepy environments and suck ghosts into a vacuum cleaner. Even despite its status as an early GameCube title, Luigi’s Mansion was a memorable adventure that is still talked about by gamers.

What makes Luigi’s Mansion 2 a title to watch out for if you’re a 3DS owner is its engaging and addictive gameplay. The game retains a lot of what made the first entry in the series so popular among fans, but it refines everything. Tighter controls and precision, more level variety (multiple mansions as opposed to just one), and crisp stereoscopic 3D visuals. Even if you didn’t play the original—go buy it on EBay or Amazon right now, dagnabbit!—Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a title to watch out for with the utmost of interest.

I’ve done these versus editorials in the past, and usually, I didn’t have a hard time deciding between two games. This time, it’s a lot harder for me. I could easily tell you that I’m looking forward to Super Mario 3DS more because of the franchise’s successful legacy. I could just as easily say that the freshness of Luigi’s Mansion 2 draws me more to that game. But the truth is that both of these games look like worthwhile purchases for any 3DS owner. Hell, if you don’t own a 3DS, here are two good reasons to invest in one! So I may be breaking some versus editorial rule here, but I need to be completely honest with you people. Should you be more stoked to play Super Mario 3DS or Luigi’s Mansion 2?

Just play both of these damn games when they launch on the 3DS.