Luigi's Mansion 3 Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Since its initial release on the Gamecube in 2001, the Luigi's Mansion series has grown to become one of Nintendo’s most iconic and much-loved. The series may not have the same level of pomp and circumstance as the mainline Mario entries but Luigi’s Mansion and its handheld sequel, Dark Moon represent Nintendo at its innovative best. Nintendo has once again pulled out a masterclass in innovative level design and game mechanics for Luigi’s standalone arrival on the Switch. Luigi’s Mansion 3 isn’t perfect but represents the pinnacle of the series to date.
After arriving at the luxurious Last Resort hotel for a much-needed vacation. Luigi, his ghost dog Polterpup, Mario, Peach and the Toad family soon realise the hotel doesn’t offer the vacation it promised. Waking up in the heart of night, Luigi discovers that his friends have been captured in paintings by King Boo, who was aided by the hotel’s owner and her ghostly employees. Luigi equipped with Professor E.Gadd’s latest Poltergust G-00, must hunt down the missing elevator buttons scattered across the haunted hotel in order to face his adversaries and save his friends.
The biggest criticism of the original Luigi’s Mansion was that it was too short without breaking the boundaries of level design. Dark Moon fixed the majority of these issues but was structured with predefined levels, which sadly made backtracking almost impossible. Luigi’s Mansion 3 does away with the predefined level-based missions in favour of a more open-ended approach and to spectacular effect. Each level in the hotel is theme-based and I enjoyed traversing almost all of them. From terrifying ghost ships to ancient crypts and tombs bursting with traps and puzzles, they all feel loved and well thought out. By setting the game in a high-rise hotel, Nintendo is able to create floors that feel like individual gaming worlds. It was such a surreal feeling going from a lush tropical jungle to an amateur movie set or sprawling dinosaur museum in a blink of an eye thanks to the elevator system that glues everything together under one roof. Nintendo are the masters at level design and they don’t disappoint here.
The move to an open-ended structure means backtracking through the floors is encouraged, and there’s certainly reasons to return. If you’re a completionist, each floor boasts a range of hidden gems and secret adversaries to hunt down and if you do manage to reveal and collect everything the game has to offer, you won’t be disappointed.
In order to traverse the floors and discover all the hidden secrets, you’ll need to make full use of all the new features installed within Luigi’s new Poltergust G-00 vacuum. All of these new features add some much-needed freshness to the combat and puzzle-solving. In addition to the mainline suck and blow vacuum features, the Poltergust G-00 allows Luigi to finish enemies off with a new slam ability, launch himself into the air with the new burst ability, and solve puzzles using the new suction shot, this was definitely my favourite new ability. The suction shot allows Luigi to suck up items and fire them towards enemies, flip switches, or you can release a plunger that sticks to walls. This allows Luigi to pull them down and reveal hidden passageways. Luigi’s torch can also double as an ultraviolet light which reveals hidden objects puzzle solutions.
The biggest new feature is the inclusion of Gooigi, Luigi’s all-green and boneless doppelganger who can squeeze through the smallest of gaps and traverse the hotel’s plumbing. Gooigi can be controlled either by a second controller or by pressing down on the right control stick. This adds a new level of design to the series, although when playing in co-op, the camera can be irritating as it tries to compensate for both players. Most puzzles and boss fights in the latter half of the game require you to make use of both Luigi and Gooigi in order to proceed; just don’t get him wet! Nintendo is often praised for their innovative puzzle design within their mainline Mario games, and they’re on form here too. Whilst most puzzles aren’t particularly challenging, they do require some out of the box thinking and more often than not, the simplest solution was the correct one. It is a testament to Nintendo’s level and puzzle design that I spent my entire fifteen-hour journey with a smile on my face, often feeling proud after completing even the simplest of puzzles. Rounding off each floor are some truly imaginative boss fights, which range from extremely easy to downright infuriating. While the difficulty of each ultimately comes down to how quickly you figure the strategy out, it was interesting that some of the later bosses proved to be less of a threat than some of the earlier ones.
Visually, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is one of the best looking games on the Switch. It may not have the level of polish and finesse that Mario Odyssey enjoyed but the character models here are some of the best on the console, the environments are spectacularly detailed and bursting with colour. It was such a joy to experience everything from a flooded-basement to a rooftop disco in glorious HD when docked. The visuals do lose a little polish while in handheld mode as you would expect but thankfully I never experienced any significant framerate drops or other technical limitations while playing on the go.
Luigi’s latest entry may be one of the best games on the Switch, but it’s not completely perfect. The controls feel a little unnatural at times and the button mapping felt uncomfortable after long sessions. Unlike the standard flashlight, the ultraviolet dark light can’t be used while walking, which leaves you open to numerous attacks. Aiming the suction shot also proved to be more difficult than it needed to be, resulting in wayward shots which prolonged boss fights and became an irritant by the end. The camera feels like it’s constantly working against you and I was also disappointed that Nintendo artificially-inflated the game's length on occasions by making you fight the same boss over and over. Nevertheless, these are very small gripes that don’t take much away from the overall experience.
The biggest disappointment here is the multiplayer element. Playing the single-player story in co-op is an excellent addition but the ScareScraper and ScreamPack modes feel a little rushed and half-baked. The ScreamPack modes see team Luigi fight team Gooigi in a range of mini-games. Collecting everything from coins to ghosts and while they’re fun for a while, they quickly become a bore. ScareScraper is where the meat of multiplayer lies and requires you to clear floors of ghosts as quickly as possible in order to progress to the next. Up to eight players can take part in ScareScraper in local or online play and while it’s an intriguing set up, the core mechanics aren’t anything that hasn’t been done to death before.
Despite a few niggling control and camera issues, Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes everything that is brilliant about the previous two entries and builds upon them to great effect. Nintendo’s iconic charm, innovative level and puzzle design are here in abundance. The inclusion of local two-player co-op adds a new level of depth and variety to the series. While the Mario series may be the Nintendo flagship, the Luigi's Mansion series is equally as enjoyable and innovative. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is easily one of the best games of 2019 and an essential purchase for every Switch owner.