You know what game I never expected to get a sequel? Luigi’s Mansion. But here we are. The year is 2021 and Luigi’s Mansion, the charming Gamecube launch title, has two sequels with the most recent being available on the Nintendo Switch. I recently had the opportunity to play through the game and have some thoughts. How does Luigi’s most recent ghost busting adventure fair? Let’s find out.
Developer: Next Level Games
Release Date: Oct 31st 2019
Available on: Nintendo Switch
For those who aren’t in the know, Luigi’s Mansion is a game where players take on the role of Mario’s younger brother Luigi and run around a mansion catching ghosts with a vacuum. Trust me, it makes sense in context. This time around the Mario Bros, Peach, and a couple Toads were invited to fancy hotel and…it was a trap. Only Luigi manages to escape capture, after which he reluctantly takes up the mantle of hero and saves the day.
As mentioned, this time around Luigi will be exploring a hotel where each floor is its own self contained level with unique theming. The general flow involves entering a new floor, exploring it, fighting a boss, and obtaining an elevator button which can be used to access the next floor. This is a much appreciated change compared to the previous entry where you’d constantly be pulled out of the world and have to select the next level from a menu. By hiding this normally intrusive element within the world, the whole experience feels a lot more cohesive and there is less friction while exploring.
So what do you do while exploring this illustrious hotel?
A big part of Luigi’s Mansion 3 involves roaming around turning over every object looking for money to collect. This gives you something to do as you nervously shuffle through each floor of the hotel and is as satisfying as it has been in all previous games. It also acts as a quasi-scoring system where you receive a letter grade at the end based on your accumulated stash, which provides a bit of extra incentive to hunt down every bit of money you can get your mitts on.
Along with pilfering the hotel, you’ll be solving puzzles. There are both those which fall on the critical path and those which are used for obtaining some of the collectible gems scattered across the levels. In both instances, these puzzles offer some light-hearted challenge that often make use of unique level mechanics. It was always a joy to see what new mechanics would be introduced in conjunction with a floor’s theme.
In fact, many of the best levels throughout Luigi’s Mansion are those where a new mechanic is introduced and is later incorporated into the boss fight. The game shines brightest when it manages to allow players to firmly understand a mechanic before putting them to a final test against the floor’s boss. I was a particular fan of the chainsaw in the garden level and rather enjoyed seeing how it was implemented in the final showdown of that floor.
Alongside these floor specific mechanics we have one of the new features of Luigi’s Mansion 3 in Gooigi. This poorly named mechanic sees Luigi creating a goo copy of himself which can access new areas that our hero can not. Is there a grate or fence in your way? Then it’s time to bust out Gooigi who’s viscus form allows it to pass through these obstructions. Most of the game’s best puzzles involve making use of Gooigi’s unique set of properties and working around them so this mechanic was a welcome addition to the gameplay mix.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you play co-op through Luigi’s Mansion 3, which I did, the second player controls Gooigi. Unfortunately, the game is designed to be a single player experience, so playing in co-op isn’t ideal as far too often only one of the two Luigis is given something meaningful to do. This isn’t a total deal breaker, but it isn’t a co-op experience in the truest sense.
It’d also be remiss of me to not mention combat. Like in older titles, Luigi will once again be doing some ghost busting with his trusty vacuum the poltergeist. The general flow of things hasn’t changed: you shine a flashlight on ghosts, this temporarily stuns them, and then you inhale them into your magic vacuum. What has changed is that you can now whip the ghosts around while you’re sucking them down. This looks hilarious, but has the added benefit of allowing you to attack other ghosts which mitigates the need for much of any thinking with regard to combat. Wherein past entries you’d want to combo several ghosts into a single attack now you can simply suplex them into one another to get the job done.
While the suplex simplifies combat to the point of being almost brainless, it does highlight the biggest strength of the game: the animation. Almost everything in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is animated with so much personality that, despite the lack of dialogue, you get a great sense of the character of many of the baddies. Luigi is especially expressive which really helps to endear him as a character and stands in sharp contrast against his brother Mario who’s lack of personality puts him into mascot territory. The cutscenes are equally well animated having an almost Pixar level of quality. It’s top notch and is a big part of Luigi’s Mansion 3’s appeal and charm.
So where does Luigi’s Mansion 3 sit overall? It’s fairly good all things considered. It’s not going to win any prizes for innovation, but the handful of new ideas in combination with many of the elements that made the first game such a hit result in an experience well worth having if you own a Nintendo Switch. I’d even go as far as saying Luigi’s Mansion 3 is one of the better games on the platform and is worth a look for both solo and co-op play experiences.