October has been a jam-packed month of ghost hunting for yours truly! Coming hot off the trail from my Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered review I'm jumping right into some spooky shenanigans with Luigi's Mansion 3–what can I say, bustin' makes me feel good.
Like I said last year around this very same time, it’s worth appreciating that Luigi’s Mansion as a franchise took off in the way it did. It’s kind of a worn-out joke amongst gamers that Luigi is the less desirable of the two brothers: the eternal player-two, constantly living in his brother’s shadow. It’s been genuinely refreshing over the years to see both Luigi and his quirky, Comedy Horror game get the love they deserve; and this newest entry is no exception—Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi's Mansion 3 begins when Mario, Luigi, Peach and the Toads all receive an invitation to the luxurious Last Resort hotel. After a brief introduction from the hotel’s owner Helen Gravely, the gang is shown to their rooms for the night. However, things take a ghastly turn in the night when Luigi awakens to find his companions have been trapped in portraits by Helen Gravely, who has been working for her idol: King Boo. However, Luigi manages to escape and is quickly reunited with his trusty Poltergust, and must now unravel the mysteries of the haunted hotel and rescue his friends.
It’s exactly the kind of story you’d expect from this series, providing Luigi with a reason to be in a spooky location to get wrapped up in ghostly dilemmas. While it doesn’t stray too far from the path of established story elements in previous entries, it does add some extra intrigue, particularly with the motivations of Helen Gravely, and her release of King Boo— whom Luigi had trapped away in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. However, the story only provides the comedic appetizer to the main course: the Ghost Busting!
Fans of the Luigi’s Mansion franchise know exactly what to expect here. Part puzzle game, part Ghostbusters as you explore the hotel and suck up any ghosts that get in your way. Ghostbusting is pretty much exactly as it was in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, as ghosts need to be stunned with a bright flash from the Strobulb, and then sucked up with some skillful wrangling.
Much like in Luigi’s Mansion 2, players are given a charged attack that can significantly reduce a ghost’s health while wrangling. Previously it was a simple power-suck, but now it takes the form of a serious Slam Attack. While this does help a lot in controlling large groups of ghosts, I can’t help but feel like maybe it’s a bit too powerful. It doesn’t take much to charge it, and once you have it, you can slam a ghost four times, reducing its health by 20 each time (most ghosts have about 100 health).
While this is an essential skill for some of the powerful boss ghosts, against normal ghosts, I can’t help but feel like it takes away some of the frantic fun or wrangling them old school style. Granted, this is a minor complaint and using the Slam is completely optional.
Much like Lugi’s Mansion 2, this game takes a more level-based approach than the first game, however—as has kind of been the theme with a lot of first-part Switch games—Luigi’s Mansion 3 feels a lot more fluid and open for exploration the it’s predecessor that literally broke each part into a selectable “level.”
As Luigi begins his adventure, he quickly learns that all of the buttons for the hotel’s elevator have been stolen. As he explores, he learns that several powerful ghosts are in possession of these buttons and he must overcome each floor’s dangerous obstacles defeat them in order to retrieve the buttons and ascend to the higher floors where his friends are being held.
The newest feature in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the inclusion of Gooigi: a gooey Luigi clone that was introduced in the 3DS remake of Luigi’s Mansion to facilitate the game’s co-op multiplayer. While Gooigi still serves the purpose of adding co-op multiplayer to the game, he’s actually been fleshed out to expand the game’s explorative and puzzle-solving elements as certain areas that are inaccessible to Luigi’s flesh body can be reached by Gooigi’s malleable Jell-O form; and certain puzzles that can only be solved by teamwork.
Other elements from Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon return, such as the Dark-Light which reveals hidden objects and Boo’s, and the semi-competitive, cooperative online-multiplayer Scarescraper; as well as the newly added “Screampark” co-op multiplayer mode that supports up to eight players.
While it’s definitely great to play, I do have one minor complaint. The controls can be a bit wonky as the left-stick controls Luigi, and the right-stick aims him while stationary. Since Luigi turns to face whichever direction he’s facing, this can cause some conflict when trying to aim forcing Luigi to spin out of control; which can be a bit annoying during hectic fights.
Where Luigi’s Mansion 3 really stands out is in its visual design. I say without hyperbole that Luigi’s Mansion 3 might be one of the best looking games on the Switch because of how much it does with colour, ambient effects, and an overwhelming attention to detail; and while it does look great in docked play, on the big screen at 1080p is where it really shines!
Each area of the hotel is overflowing with life and character, and the incredible amount of animation for not just the environments; but the ghosts and Luigi himself could rival a Disney Pixar film. Each enemy and character has such a uniqueness of movement that adds so much charm to them.
Luigi may be the most animated of all. The way he reacts to every little thing; from frightened expressions to seeing ghosts, to his ridiculous slapstick interactions with some of the more disagreeable parts of the environments serves to show why Luigi is such a loveable character and so much more interesting than his stoic brother.
This is expanded further in the litany of in-game cutscenes—that are so beautifully animated and enjoyable to watch, you’d almost wish they’d just make a Luigi’s Mansion movie—and the aforementioned attention to detail; little things like how Gooigi leaves behind little wet footprints, or shakes like gelatin when he stops moving make this one of the most visually interesting games on the Switch.
Furthermore, this is backed by a great use of horror iconography—something Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon also did very well. Starting the game in a haunted hotel, not dissimilar to a mansion setting, is a great way to kick things off, giving the game some serious The Shining vibes, but it’s great to see areas straight out of the Hammer horror films like: “The Haunted Castle,” “The Cursed Mummy’s Tomb,” and “The Ghost Ship,” to name a few; adding a lot to the game’s horror influence
Lastly in the design department is a soundtrack that knows when to use spooky ambiance to set the mood, and fun horror-themed songs to keep things light; as well as the great audio design of all of the ghosts, and how audibly expressive Luigi is in almost every scenario and cutscene—I don’t think gamers will be underappreciating Luigi’s loving, “Polterpup!” upon petting the ghost dog at the start of the game, any time soon.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 may be the most fun I’ve had on the Switch since Mario Odyssey–and like Odyssey, I genuinely did not want to stop playing it. It is overflowing with fun, humour, challenge, and, ironically, life. There’s a little something for everyone, fans and newcomers alike. Do yourself a favour and do your Halloween right by playing Luigi’s Mansion 3!