Developer: Next- Level Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Rating: E for Everyone
When Luigi’s Mansion 3 was first announced back in 2018, I already wanted it. If the Lord was willing, there was no other question about having it. I loved the first title on the Gamecube, and Dark Moon was okay, so I was eager to jump back into Luigi’s trials of spooks. Here’s how I felt about my comeback to the creeps.
Ghosts/Undead: The game is centered around capturing ghosts and saving Mario and friends.
Petty Theft/Destruction: Luigi rummages through/ destroys objects and takes money from them.
Cue The Shining Theme
Our game starts with Luigi having a nice snooze in the back of a tour bus with beloved brother Mario, Princess Peach, three toads, and a ghost pup who apparently has been following Luigi around since Dark Moon. Other than Toad’s uncharacteristically crazy driving (as he IS the best Mario Kart driver), it looks like a gorgeous vacation.
Similar to The Shining, everything seems pretty nice when the gang pulls up to the hotel. It even sparkles in the sunset! However, things soon turn sour when they separate into their respective hotel rooms. Within hours, everyone disappears and Luigi is left alone to save the day!
This intro is the best I have ever seen in a Mario game or it’s spin-off. I love having the ability to see the characters interact with each other in ways not normally seen, like Mario sitting next to Peach, Luigi sleeping in the back, and the Toads being happy little assistants with tasks such as carrying luggage. Luigi’s Mansion 3 has an intro much more personal than just another “Party at the Castle.” It has a Super Mario Sunshine vibe, just without getting wrongfully arrested.
Nice Place Ya Got Here!
As with many of Nintendo’s major game series, the visuals of Luigi’s Mansion 3 are stunning, now more than ever. Though many cutscenes are the exact same render, such as when Luigi is shown putting in new buttons in the hotel elevator, I always watched them through, just to appreciate how much work was put into Luigi’s design. Luigi’s “L” is actually a patch stitched in his hat, which has a texture similar to denim. His gloves are made of rough cloth or leather, and his mustache has texture as well. Even with all of the attention given to Mario’s outfits in Super Mario Odyssey, I had never noticed such detail on either Mario bro until now. As a caveat, Dr. E. Gadd has never looked better, and I could watch his facial expressions and hear his funny talk literally all day.
Overall the same goes for each environment Luigi traverses through. From finding Easter eggs alluding to other games, to seeing the effect of water shining on a wall, Luigi’s Mansion 3 always manages to create a fitting atmosphere for each level’s design, yet still make them cartoony and navigable.
Ain’t Got No Business Going In There!
Typical of the Luigi’s Mansion series, Luigi’s Mansion 3 involves taking Luigi ghost hunting room-by-room in order to find ghosts, collect riches, and eventually save his friends and family. It’s pretty incredible to see each room individually designed, and to find ghost maids around just doing their work, such as dusting and putting up wanted posters.
Unfortunately, there were several floors I found pretty underwhelming. While it makes sense that not every room would be important within a hotel in terms of jewels or ghosts, it was a bit of a letdown to have, say, a pirate level reduced to being primarily a boss-stage, while the boiler-works had to be visited twice for story-related purposes. Perpendicular to that, it works well to have the game structured in a level-per-floor format, but it would have been nice to have that formula broken up a bit more, for monotonic reasons.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Ghostbusters. The ghosts in Luigi’s Mansion 3 are the same types as the others. The Goob is the standard grunt that Luigi can easily suck up, Hammers are the brute type, and Oozers throw things at Luigi. Besides those three, Luigi’s Mansion 3 has two other unique types of ghosts: the Slinker and the Trapper. Any and all other types are just similar reiterations of the same character designs, with changes to size or rarity. In total, there are 7 common ghost types, which isn’t nearly enough over the course of 17-ish levels. I miss the bestiary-esque features that Dark Moon and the original Mansion had, as Luigi’s Mansion 3 no longer gives description of the character of each ghost you capture, only the number caught, representative of the bland, grindey nature of the ghosts in the game.
The boss ghosts are a different story, though. While chasing certain ones across a level got rather annoying (lookin’ at you, Dr. Potter!), each boss has a unique mechanic in their fighting style and character that felt really good to solve. I loved most of the boss battles within the game, and, for the most part, their difficulty was decently paced.
I was a little disappointed to find Next-Level Games kept the gameplay formula that was used in Dark Moon when it comes to characterized ghosts. One of the coolest features of the original GameCube title was that you could find the ghost of a unique character most anywhere, such as a rocking chair or bedroom. I fondly remember trying to figure out how to capture a ghost, and finding out I had to move a drafty curtain so I could catch her off guard and capture her portrait. It was a little creepy, but also more in-depth. While boss ghosts do still have their own puzzles associated to defeating them, Dark Moon and Luigi’s Mansion 3 have both done away with that random ghost puzzle formula, making them drier and emptier than the original Mansion.
The controls are another aspect Luigi’s Mansion 3 has in connection to Dark Moon: they’re not the greatest. I may have been shooting myself in the foot, but I always had severe trouble aiming Luigi’s light with the Right Stick. This is because the stick serves two purposes: It rotates Luigi, but it is also how he aims his light up or down. Thus, just trying to aim up without moving too far to the right or left with such a small stick is always a pain for me, especially in the middle of battle. The settings were changeable for if Luigi was trying to suck up a ghost, but never helped much with his light flash, preventing me from stunning certain groups of ghosts efficiently.
Aside from the issue of aiming, I only had one other complaint, which was that Luigi’s Blacklight tool was mapped in a bad spot. While the plunger button was mapped to two buttons, (left bumper and Y), the blacklight is a more oft-used tool assigned to only one button, which is X. It may not sound like a big deal, but when fighting a ghost, it becomes frustrating when you keep shooting plungers at invisible enemies, who could have been caught in the split second that the mistake was made. Trying to aim the blacklight around when the stick and button both require your right thumb is a pretty obvious problem as well. In addition, the buttons maps are unchangeable, leaving the player to get used to it and struggle through, unfortunately.
Come Play With Us, Danny
One of Luigi’s Mansion 3’s clear selling points is it’s multiplayer-based campaign. While I unfortunately haven’t tested out that feature with another person yet, I can definitely tell where it would be a success. Several puzzles and enemies are designed to be taken on by two people at once, similar to the bosses in the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords games. Unlike those games, though, Luigi’s Mansion 3 does well in it’s one-player mode and has easy accessibility between Luigi and his co-op counterpart, Gooigi. It is also an appreciated boon to have enemies attack the conscious character more often, so that playing single player didn’t feel like trying to control two people at once.
The ScareScraper makes a return in Luigi’s Mansion 3 from Dark Moon, and a new multiplayer mode called Scream Park was added, but due to these being entirely online/multiplayer based, I hadn’t touched them, and they really didn’t feel like a priority.
Is It Worth the Gold Coins?
Luigi’s Mansion 3 follows the same gameplay formula as its predecessors, in that it is meant to be a quality over quantity, arcade-style action-adventure that the player needs to repeat for the best Mansion/Hotel with the highest amount of money. To the story- seeker, it’s a small and charming nugget of personality, but no more. Overall, I would say that the experience is worth the price, but having friends to play it with and an eye for detail would certainly help make it better than playing without.
Though not perfect, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a good game. The addition of a reasonable multiplayer feature sets it apart from its earlier games, and everything looks better than ever before. Ghost personality and variety are severely missed, but, similar to the control hiccups, can be overlooked. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a game that people of all ages can enjoy, and is an adventure with personality that arguably all Mario series fans should check out.
The Bottom Line
While not perfect, Luigi's Mansion 3 is a great introduction into the series, and a game any Mario fan may enjoy.