The upcoming Super Mario movie (with its questionable casting decisions) may be Nintendo’s first 3D animated movie, Luigi’s Mansion 3 could have held that title since its release. Its characters sneak down hallways and warp through walls with buttery smoothness. It's an experience unlike any other first-party Nintendo game, showing off what the Switch can truly achieve. Colourful yet creepy settings and impressive lighting effects, casting shadows and glares galore, are a feast for the eyes. The game showers players with charming cutscenes. It feels like a fifteen-hour theme park haunted house, a conveyor belt of silly, spooky set-pieces.
May I Take Your Bags, Sir?
In a familiar setup, the intro to Luigi's Mansion 3 sees Mario, Luigi, Peach, and some Toads invited to a luxury hotel. A reasonable expectation for saving the world dozens of times. However, it’s soon apparent that all is not as it seems in the golden, glimmering lobby. Staffed by creepy disguised spectres, these spirits reveal their true identity when Luigi wakes from a nap in the middle of the night. From there it’s a standard ghostbusting affair, using the Poltergust to suck up ghouls and solve environmental puzzles. The aim is to make your way up to the top of the hotel to rescue Luigi’s friends, who are once again held captive by King Boo.
Luigi controls well. One control stick moves him around, while the other aims the Poltergust nozzle and flashlight. Sometimes it strafed around enemies whilst aiming, but it never affected my performance in combat. One shoulder button activates the suck and the other the blow, meaning puzzles offer up differing solutions. Playing with HD Rumble enabled allows you to feel every tug and pull of a ghost or a loose bit of wallpaper concealing a secret. As well as the lighting, the physics of the game are incredibly impressive, with each object possessing its own weightiness. Larger ghosts feel harder to fight back against and lighter objects such as curtains or clothing lightly blow and flap.
Here Today, Goo Tomorrow
This time around, Luigi comes equipped with a few new tools and techniques. Combat is now streamlined by the addition of a slam move which charges as you fight back against enemies. A press of the ‘A’ button, sends ghosts hurtling into the ground, rapidly depleting their health. Unfortunately, this streamlining comes at the cost of oversimplification. The different enemy types only offer slight deviations. The formula of stun, suck, and slam an enemy soon becomes the obvious route to victory. However, basic ghosts will armour themselves in later levels. This requires removal through various means before you can properly engage with them.
The rest of Luigi’s tools, both returning and new, largely centre around puzzle-solving and exploration. These include the Dark-light, which reveals hidden objects, and Suction Shot, which can grapple and pull items. The most significant addition however is Gooigi, a sentient slime version of our hero. He can reach otherwise inaccessible areas and assist with puzzles. Therefore, he facilitates a two-player co-op, though when playing alone players can only control one character at a time. This doesn’t hamper the experience much, though some puzzles are definitely easier to solve with a second person.
[Insert Ghostbusters Catchphrase Here]
Starting from the basement, Luigi must fight his way up each floor to defeat a boss. Doing so awards the elevator button for the following floor, allowing the plumber to progress. These bosses fit the varied theming of each floor and playfully antagonise Luigi throughout his journey, lending charm to each encounter. Why anyone would wish to stay in a hotel room themed around medieval knights or an overgrown garden is beyond me though. That said, what other game lets you take on an undead disco dancer, a possessed piano, or a were-cat? Almost every one of them is a joy to take on and the climax of each floor is usually the highlight. However, a couple of battles do feature solutions so obtuse that I was scratching my head before stumbling upon the answer.
Outside of combat, puzzles within the environment offer up monetary rewards, collectable gems, or Boos to hunt down. It’s a missight that you can only use the money for extra lives, which are seldom required, or trackers to find gems and Boos. Though these do at least help completionists hoover up their last few missing collectables. Whilst some puzzles offer some funny and entertaining interactions inside the hotel's many suites, these rewards didn’t incentivize me to comb through every level. Nevertheless, it’s nice to stop and breathe in the scenery. Before promptly hoovering it up for more coins, of course. Most puzzle solutions are clearly marked or intuitive, so it can be frustrating when this isn’t the case, especially within boss fights. Outside of these occasions though, the game does a good job of pointing you in the right direction. I only got lost a few times. The campaign does require backtracking to previous floors, but this doesn’t feel like unnecessary padding. I would recommend turning off hints from Professor E. Gadd for the most part. These are annoyingly frequent and can give away puzzle solutions before you’ve had proper time to think about them.
The multiplayer offerings of Luigi's Mansion 3, outside of tackling the campaign in a two-player co-op, are substantial. Though they're let down by a lack of guidance and other players. Scream Park is more of a party game, with small mini-games offering short, fun distractions. ScareScraper is the main attraction. It sees up to 8 players tackle up to 25 floors of varying objectives. These can include defeating all ghosts, finding the hidden exit, or tracking down hidden Polterpups. Some ghosts are exclusive to this mode. So if you’re attempting to find them all and complete the game's many achievements, most of which focus on multiplayer, prepare to commit a lot of time to this mode. For me, whilst matchmaking was not terrible, finding a group large enough to reliably complete the objectives was difficult. Furthermore, without a full tutorial guiding new players, I quickly lost interest. Additionally, the achievement list itself was so intimidating I was cowering more than the green-clad plumber himself. Only hardcore completionists need apply, especially given the simple cosmetics offered as rewards.
Since release, two paid DLC packs have become available. These include multiplayer exclusive costumes and accessories for Luigi to don, as well as new Scream Park attractions and ScareScraper levels.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is full to the brim of charm, personality and fun minute-to-minute gameplay. You’ll be frightfully addicted once you step inside the hotel. Enjoyable puzzles, gorgeous visuals, and charismatic bosses tie the package together, and the adventure does not overstay its welcome. Here’s hoping Luigi is no braver by the time his next adventure rolls around. I’m sure we all take glee from seeing him cower from his poltergeist pursuers, before ultimately besting them.