|Dev: Next Level Games|
|Release: October 31, 2019|
|Players: 1-8 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 720p-1080p||Comic Mischief and Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Jenni Lada
There are certain games where the moment you start playing, you see it is immediately responding to issues from a previous installment. Even if the prior game was still “good,” you can tell from the outset that this new entry is going to do everything possible to top it. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is that sort of game. While Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was fine for what it was, a handheld installment in a series known for giving people a chance to explore and its personality, Luigi’s Mansion 3 does everything it can to not only be an even better follow-up, but also one of the best Nintendo Switch games.
In a callback to the original Luigi’s Mansion, this third game sees Luigi summoned to a suspicious location. In this case, Luigi, Mario, Peach, and an entourage of Toads have been summoned to Last Resort, a luxury hotel run by Hellen Gravely. It is immediately made obvious to the player that it is completely inhabited by ghosts, though Luigi doesn’t figure that out until he wakes in the middle of the night and sees the building changing from its temporarily shiny exterior to a decidedly more spooky one. It turns out Hellen lured Professor E. Gadd there, unleashed King Boo, captured everyone Luigi cares about, and is generally up to no good. Luigi has to summon all of his courage and strap on his Poltergust ghost catcher/vacuum to clean up their act.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 starts on the ground floor and gradually builds things up. After running from King Boo, Luigi finds himself in Last Resort’s basement. Searching the parking garage results in the acquisition of E. Gadd’s latest Poltergust and gives him the tool he needs to start sucking up evil and going through the hotel. Initially, you only have access to the lowest level and lobby, but exploring areas and capturing ghosts gives you access to elevator buttons that unlock more of the hotel’s 16 floors and opportunities to add new skills to Luigi’s repertoire. For example, you get the Dark Light Device that lets you pop items out of certain paintings and track Boos. You can fire off a suction cup dart and vacuum it up to move bulkier items or remove ghosts’ shields. Gooigi, a second character made of slime that can reach areas Luigi can’t or provide backup support, also helps with puzzle solving. If you’re playing alone, you can switch back and forth between Luigi and Gooigi manually, but it is also possible to head into the Virtual Boo, the Virtual Boy-inspired device from E. Gadd, to play through the campaign with another person controlling Gooigi.
What’s great about all of this is how well progression is handled. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was a more mission-based game, where you were constantly being sent back to E. Gadd’s lab. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is far more open. While the professor will sometimes badger you about completing certain objectives and Polterpup will lead you to specific places, you’re largely free to explore the hotel at your leisure. New mechanics are introduced at a good pace, with ghosts gradually picking up new “equipment” like sunglasses that can block Luigi’s stunning flashlight and items that might require you to pull them away before you can start sucking them up. Treasure is hidden everywhere, with Boos and gems giving you extra excuses to explore. Plus, the easily acquired Gold Bones and liberal distribution of hearts mean less experienced and younger players won’t be as frustrated by stronger boss fights. But, for those who have hunted ghosts before, there are a few foes that will have you thinking about the best way to approach them and handle their telegraphed patterns so you can capture them.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 also looks absolutely amazing. This is a game packed with personality. Every character is incredibly expressive. Luigi’s fear is palpable, and the unflappable Gooigi is just as delightful. While most of the ghosts don’t talk, their actions say it all. There are times when the game can be a bit dark and I would have appreciated an option to adjust the brightness, but considering this is a haunted hotel being explored at night, the shadows are fitting. We even get a more malevolent counterpart to the delightful Polterpup, Polterkitty, who proves to be quite a frustrating foe. There is no compromising in the pursuit of this aesthetic, though the different themed floors in the hotel give ample opportunities to explore various themes.
As for other multiplayer experiences, Luigi’s Mansion 3 again offers options that work if you can get the right group of people together. ScareScraper is the cooperative adventure, which can be played locally or online alone or with other people. Ideally, you have four other people with you, so you can manage the five or ten floor tower and its timed challenges. Voice chat is available with the Nintendo Switch online, to help with the situation. However, there’s no real difficulty scaling, so you absolutely have to have other people around. Going in alone isn’t fun.
ScreamPark, on the other hand, consists of the competitive multiplayer modes that allow up to eight people to try and complete various objectives locally. Cannon Barrage has teams getting cannonballs from ghosts to load into cannons and hit targets for points, Coin Float has you collecting coins and avoiding obstacles in a pool for points, and Ghost Hunt involves catching various ghosts for, you guessed it, points. While Ghost Hunt is fine, you can ignore Cannon Barrage and Coin Float and not miss anything. It’s best to describe these minigames as being there for folks who want more brief experiences, but they aren’t the reason anyone would ever hop into Luigi’s Mansion 3.
At its core, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is lovely. The campaign is clearly crafted with care and is filled with personality. Each ally and enemy is detailed and expressive. Its challenges are never too demanding and the floors of the Last Resort are fun to explore alone or with a friend. ScareScraper can also be enjoyable, if you can get enough people to join you in tackling a tower. Really, ScreamPark is the only blemish in an otherwise delightful game.