Luigi's Mansion 3

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: Oct. 31, 2019


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Switch Review - 'Luigi's Mansion 3'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 4, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Like the two games before it, Luigi's Mansion 3 is centered around Luigi's adventures in haunted mansions where he has to deal with all kinds of supernatural beings.

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Luigi's Mansion 3 finds Luigi, Mario, Princess Peach and the Toads being invited to a fancy resort hotel with all expenses paid. What seems like a dream quickly turns into a nightmare. It turns out that the hotel's guests and staff are actually ghosts who are seeking revenge for Luigi's defeat of King Boo in the original Luigi's Mansion. Luigi, the only one to remain uncaptured, must strap on a new and improved version of his trusty ghost-sucking vacuum and set out to once again to save his brother from the clutches of evil ghosts — assuming his knees can stop knocking together.

Luigi's Mansion 3 is absolutely dripping with charm. The puzzles are enjoyable, but the entire presentation makes the game fun. It's an absolute delight to see in motion, including the animations, the amusing jump-scares, Luigi's adorable mix of bravery and cowardice, and the various ghosts and their antics.

A big part of the charm is due to Luigi himself. The "lesser" Mario Brother has always struggled with being in the spotlight, but LM3 emphasizes why he's lovable. He's not particularly brave, but when confronted with an entire house full of evil ghosts, he puts himself on the line to save his friends and family. This comes through amazingly in every bit of animation. From his nervous chuckles and startled jump-scares to the way he braces himself before entering a new area and the genuine delight on his face when he rescues someone, he manages to be delightful without uttering any dialogue. (He does occasionally yell, "Puppy" or "Mario" in true Mario fashion.) LM3 shows that the cowardly brother can be just as appealing (if not more so) than his famous sibling.

Most of your time in LM3 is spent exploring the hotel. While the early areas are fairly standard, you quickly discover that this hotel would be right at home in Las Vegas, with themed floors that give the game a sense of wonder because you never know what will be next. It's genuinely fun to explore the hotel and its many wonders, and the title is designed well enough that the gameplay feels fresh all the way to the end. Most levels are self-contained, but they each have hidden secrets, such as bonus cash or collectable items, like gems. You don't have to bother with items if you just want to play the game, but the more cash and gems you collect, the better your ending.

Moving and exploring is pretty easy, but the default controls are awkward and uncomfortable. I strongly recommend going into the game settings and personalizing the controls a bit so you're not locked in place when using Luigi's vacuum. It makes the game far more enjoyable. Otherwise, the controls don't feel very natural, and even if it's theoretically more helpful in certain fights, it's not worth the trouble for the entirety of the game.

Speaking of which, the vacuum is the most important item in LM3. Early on, you only have two abilities: suck and blow. You'll quickly unlock a few more abilities that allow you to interact with puzzles in unique ways. The X-Ray Scope reveals invisible objects and can be useful for finding hidden passages or items. The Plunger can affix to items, allowing the vacuum's suck mode to move them around or slam them.

The most interesting new gadget in the game is Gooigi, which is a pile of goo that's shaped like Luigi, effectively serving as a doppelganger. He retains all of Luigi's abilities and can slide his gooey body through small gaps, but he has fewer hit points and can't stand water. You can swap between Luigi and Gooigi at will, or you can play them both using co-op. You're often asked to swap between them or use both simultaneously to solve puzzles.

The Gooigi mechanic is fun. While it may have been designed for co-op, it never gets in the way of playing the single-player game. Indeed, it feels perfectly natural and easy to control. Gooigi (or Luigi) continues whatever action he was last doing when you press the swap button, so you can use that to solve puzzles or catch tricky ghosts. He's also an amusing pile of dead-eyed goo, causing ghosts consternation when he fails to react the way Luigi would.

As you explore the hotel, the goal is to track down elevator buttons and catch ghosts. While some ghosts are out in the open, most of the specters that are needed to progress are locked behind puzzles. Some puzzles are simple, others are devilishly tricky, and others will have you slapping your head once you figure out the solution. (I got stuck for a few minutes because I forgot that Gooigi can walk through fences!) They are all very fun and mostly fair. Since you have a small toolkit, it's just about learning how the toolkit works, and new twists are regularly introduced.

Once you've tracked down a ghost, you have to catch it. Early on, this is an easy task. You can pop your flashlight to stun them and then suck them into the vacuum. Once you hook them into your vacuum, you can slam them, which reduces their hit points and can stun and damage other ghosts around them. Once the hit points for surrounding ghosts are drained, they're also sucked up. However, as the game progresses, ghosts will start using tricks against you. They may wear sunglasses that prevent them from being stunned by a flashlight unless you remove them, or they may be large beasts that need to be knocked down before you can have an effect on their HP.

The most interesting battles in the game are the boss fights. Most of them resemble complex puzzles more so than genuine fights. You have to figure out how to make your foe vulnerable so you can damage them. Your various gadgets (including Gooigi) are put into play, and the boss battles are fantastic. Once you know the tricks, they're not particularly tough, but they're an interesting spectacle, and it's a lot of fun to figure out how to defeat a particularly tricky boss.

The weakest moments of LM3 are the moments with a significant amount of fighting but few puzzles. Ironically, the weakest part of Luigi's Mansion is the actual rank-and-file ghostbusting. When you're facing ghosts that are puzzles, it's enjoyable enough, but when you're just grabbing and slamming ghosts, it's kind of boring. In a way, the slam mechanic feels like it was introduced as a way to speed up the sucking up of ghosts, so you can get back to puzzling and exploring. It's fun when you get a room full of breakable objects that you can slam a ghost against, but there's little more to it than pressing a few buttons. It would've been better if they had made catching the ghost as exciting as finding the ghost.

The game also features online co-op in the form of the Scarescraper, which returns from Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Scarescraper is a semi-cooperative, semi-competitive mode where you're tasked with completing various challenges alongside up to seven other players, including allowing same-system co-op with other people online. This mode is genuinely fun, but I'm not sure how much of a lifespan it will have. There's also the Scarepark minigame collection, which is forgettable. The Nintendo Switch isn't light on minigame collections, and none of the games in the Scarepark are particularly noteworthy.

LM3 is among the best-looking games on the Switch. The character models look great, the environments are packed with details, and it runs wonderfully smooth, even in handheld. The music is good and full of amusingly ominous songs that do a terrific job of setting the atmosphere. A number of excellent audio cues help set the mood or provide enjoyable hints.

Luigi's Mansion 3 is a charming, delightful and enjoyable game. It doesn't break any molds or do anything particularly new, but it executes the gameplay with almost perfect precision. The only really flaw is the lackluster combat, which is at odds with the rest of the excellent experience. If you enjoyed the original Luigi's Mansion or are looking for a fun adventure with a certain green plumber, this is the game for you.

Score: 8.5/10

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