Luigi has forever lived in the shadow of his fellow plumber and superstar brother, Mario. Throughout the ages, his solo outings have been hit-or-miss with the green-capped anxious plumber struggling to stand out from the franchise’s very colourful cast of characters. That is except for one game series of his. Whichever console installment you were playing, Luigi’s Mansion proved to be a unique and entertaining take on taking down those who haunt the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. Now arriving on the Nintendo Switch is the third installment of Luigi’s Mansion, promising not only a reinvigoration of the established formula, but some new and unique twists too.
It all started out so innocently. Luigi, his brother, Princess Peach and the Toads have been invited to stay at the Last Resort, a remote hotel in which they can rest and relax. The staff seem friendly and their host appears to be in good “spirits”. Waking up from a quick nap, Luigi discovers his friends are missing and the hotel has taken on a more demonic state. There is an old foe lurking in the shadows and it’s up to our green-capped friend to save the day. He has help though in the form of his loyal Polterpup, and the inventions of long-time friend Professor E. Gadd. Armed with a Poltergust G-00, the latest in ghoul-vacuuming technology, Luigi must make his way up the many floors of the Last Resort. Busting ghosts and uncovering secrets in order to save his fellow guests.
Putting aside the headline error of the location being a hotel and not a mansion, Luigi’s Mansion 3 deviates from its predecessor in that is encapsulates open-world exploration rather than a dedicated linear narrative. The story is there and it is up to players to progress through it in order to reach the upper floors of the building. But a sizable chunk of the experience can be spent roaming the many themed rooms and facilities. You could forgive Nintendo for including a movie studio and a medieval renaissance fair in a hotel, given that these environments are gorgeous to look at and hide ingenious secrets. This is a game for the Halloween season and it drips a creepy yet fun atmosphere. It has also retained its unique aesthetic in that this is not just a Super Mario title with the sibling just switched out. This is Luigi’s game.
As entertaining as Luigi is to play, it does take a while to get a handle on his movement and direction. Though it is a three-dimensional environment, the 2D player perspective can hinder targeting ghosts and when running around the many rooms. However, other aspects of the combat system are relatively easy to master. The Poltergust G-00 is equipped with several basic functions which are used at various stages throughout confrontations.
The difficulty of sucking up fiendish ghouls can range from housework to a strategic game of cat-and-mouse. Each floor in the game leads to Luigi taking on a booing boss of some kind, where the stakes are lifted and the process of ghostbusting is made more complex. The difficulty levels with these can also range but do not fear. Upon being accessed, you can call upon the good boy Polterpup to your aid when the frights start to take their toll.
Additional assignments are relegated to fetch quests which may be tedious and unfulfilling to some, but one does get to experience the previously stated ingenuity of the levels. There are some like myself that upon walking into a master suite will stay there staring at the furniture until the lightbulb in our heads (and not the bedside lamp) goes off.
A new and major addition to the game is Luigi’s green doppelgänger. Made of…well…goo, Gooigi is able to squeeze into areas not immediately accessible and walk across the spikes of intimidating deathtraps. He adds an additional dimension to the experience. Walking up to a problem, one must make an additional consideration: Would this be solvable if there were two of us? This new ability forms the basis of the two-player co-op mode: two players pilot Luigi and Gooigi and work their way through the Last Resort together.
Extending further into this is Luigi’s Mansion 3’s multiplayer and party modes. Stepping into the Scarescraper, work with other players to clear all the rooms of their hauntings against the clock. Alternatively, take on said players in the Screampark by collecting coins, destroying objects, or busting as many ghosts as possible.
There is a great deal to like in Luigi’s Mansion 3. The gameplay is fun and the visuals are stunning. Self-contained, the installment is a stable resurrection of the sub-franchise and while it may be limited in certain aspects such as repeat playthroughs and the obligatory collectables, it is still very entertaining.