The third time really is the charm, as Luigi’s Mansion 3 finds a perfect blend of humor and gameplay for a delightfully spooky experience.
As much as Luigi has morphed into a character to laugh at over the years (excluding the sacred Year of Luigi in 2013), he’s never gotten the credit that he’s deserved. He’s always been portrayed as the gangly, awkward brother of the two Mario Bros., but Luigi has his own special breed of bravery that I think goes unnoticed. Even with his cowardice, he’s partied alongside Mario and Co., played countless rounds of tennis, and even escaped the clutches of Death to get where he is today. Of course, this is all aside from the fact that he’s now ventured three times into increasingly spooky places in the Luigi’s Mansion series. Thankfully, if Luigi didn’t get the attention that he deserved before, Luigi’s Mansion 3 surely proves that he deserves it now.
Coming off their work on Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS, Next Level Games’ return to the series with Luigi’s Mansion 3 truly feels like the next installment that we’ve been waiting for. That isn’t meant to be a slight against Dark Moon by any means, which is a game that I quite liked a lot. However, with the benefit of more powerful hardware, Luigi’s Mansion 3 not only shows off Next Level Games’ talents at making an exceptional first-party title, but also delivers what is easily the best entry in the series yet and a frightfully good time.
After the events of Dark Moon, Luigi’s Mansion 3 finds Luigi, Mario, Peach, Toad, and a few other Toads all embarking on a well-deserved vacation with an invitation to stay at a luxurious hotel, The Last Resort. At first, all seems fine and dandy: the hotel is impeccably furnished and almost certainly ghost-free. Until then of course, it isn’t, and everyone other than Luigi and his Polterpup wind up in the clutches of the hotel’s ghoulish owner, Hellen Gravely, and a revenge-seeking King Boo. From there on out, it’s up to Luigi to explore the rest of the Last Resort to try and find his companions, armed with his new and improved Poltergust and the help of Professor E. Gadd.
Despite the fact that this essentially makes the game Luigi’s Hotel instead of Luigi’s Mansion, The Last Resort is a brilliantly constructed setting and a wonderful diversion from the mansions that we explored two times before. Closer to the original game, Luigi’s Mansion 3 jumps back towards a more open-ended, exploration-driven experience rather than the segmented missions that Dark Moon spread across multiple smaller areas. While in the past Luigi’s Mansion games this structure often ended up in having to backtrack through the same rooms and areas several times, Luigi’s Mansion 3 circumvents this cycle of repetition thanks to its clever design and loop of exploration.
While the basic structure of Luigi’s Mansion 3 doesn’t veer too far from the previous games–exploring areas, sucking up ghosts, solving puzzles, and fighting bosses–the variety and pacing of the game is what really makes exploring The Last Resort so compelling. The hotel features over 15 floors that Luigi traverses through over the course of the game, with each floor featuring a completely unique theme and setting that sets it apart from the rest, ranging from what you would expect to find in a hotel (the foyer, the restaurant, etc.) to more outlandish areas. Your guess is as good as mine as to why The Last Resort has a medieval battle arena and an Egyptian pyramid, but the incredible variety of environments that Luigi’s Mansion 3 brings the player through ensures that you are always moving on to something new and exciting, especially with so many puzzles to solve and ghosts to capture.
The gameplay in Luigi’s Mansion 3 especially feels like the best that the series has ever had, as both the Poltergust and the game’s puzzles have seen some significant upgrades. The Poltergust is now more powerful and far more capable of sucking in (almost) everything in sight, making it a blast to venture into a new room and vacuum until it’s bone dry for money and other valuable items. Likewise, Professor E. Gadd has also given the new and improved Poltergust G-00 some fancy new tricks, such as an air blast that shoots Luigi up into the air, the Dark Light to reveal hidden objects, and the suction shot that allows him to move objects that might be in the way or rip off doors.
The Poltergust has also gotten even more handy for sucking up ghosts, as Luigi now also has the ability to slam ghosts back and forth into the ground for added damage, making the process of ghostbusting far more fun and less repetitive than it could sometimes be in previous games. That said, the controls of the Poltergust can still be a bit of a hassle, which is an issue that has plagued the previous two games, even with the addition of a reticle when Luigi sucks up an object to shoot at an enemy and the option to use motion controls. This is especially noticeable in some of the boss fights, which are a delight visually, but can be a pain gameplay-wise by demanding more precise timing and movement that Luigi’s Mansion 3 doesn’t quite deliver on.
By far, my favorite new addition to Luigi’s toolkit in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is Gooigi, the aptly-named clone of Luigi that is, yes, made out of goo. While Gooigi was first introduced in the 3DS remake of the original Luigi’s Mansion, in Luigi’s Mansion 3 he takes on a more vital role as Luigi’s companion, especially when it comes to puzzle solving. By clicking the right analog stick (or giving another player a Joy-Con in co-op), Luigi can summon Gooigi from the Poltergust to act as a second set of hands, which gives the player a whole new set of environmental choices to consider. Given his gelatinous form, Gooigi is able to move through grates and other areas that Luigi wouldn’t be able to get past by himself, and can also slide his way into pipes and other hidden areas, making him an essential part of the game’s puzzles and environments. However, don’t get him wet or light him on fire, or you’ll regret it.
With players either now having control of two characters at a time (or the help of a friend) and so many tools at their disposal, the way that Next Level Games designed each puzzle and area in Luigi’s Mansion 3 makes it a joy to discover every hidden secret that the hotel has to offer. Each room and floor is intricately designed and meant for the player to search through and consider new ways to use Luigi’s Poltergust, from using the suction shot to grab an item and smash it into something else, or calling on Gooigi to help add some extra suction power on an obstacle.
While the puzzle solving in Luigi’s Mansion was always one of my favorite parts of the series, in Luigi’s Mansion 3 it has only gotten better thanks to the clever ways that Next Level Games has used Luigi’s new tools to make exploring these new environments interesting and fresh on every floor. And given that there are a wealth of collectibles to find, Boos to fight, and other surprises in store, it only ensures that you’ll have a much longer stay at The Last Resort than you might have anticipated.
The environments and gameplay in Luigi’s Mansion 3 have seen great strides since we first ventured into Luigi’s Mansion on the GameCube, but what really brings Luigi’s third eerie adventure together are its humor and visuals. I think it’s easy to say that Luigi’s Mansion 3 is one of the best-looking games on the Nintendo Switch, especially when it comes to the animations that really enhance Luigi’s fright and cowardice, to the lighting effects and visuals that bring The Last Resort to life.
Everything brims detail as players explore the hotel, from the varied assortment of ghosts that you’ll fight and their distinctive personalities, to the ghostly rats and other critters that scurry around each floor that Luigi explores. All in all, Luigi’s Mansion 3 just feels cartoonish in the best way possible, and seeing Luigi’s intricate animations and reactions to things genuinely made me laugh out loud at times while exploring. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is as charming and funny as it is beautiful to look at and play, and it is striking to see how far the series has come with this being only its third installment across several console generations.
Outside of the core storyline, Luigi’s Mansion 3 also features several different multiplayer options in case your friends get tired of second-wheeling as Gooigi. The first of these is the ScareScraper mode, which assembles a team of four Luigis to suck up ghosts (or complete other objectives) across numerous floors in a randomly-generated tower, which encourages competition as much as it emphasizes cooperation, especially with a timer on each floor to add some pressure.
ScreamPark is the other multiplayer option for Luigi’s Mansion 3, which offers several different mini-games for up to eight players. Assembled into Team Luigi or Team Gooigi, these mini-games–Ghost Hunt, Cannon Barrage, and Coin Floating–are fun and light team-based options that are better-suited for quick one-round bursts with friends. Think of them essentially as slightly more enhanced Mario Party-style mini-games; they’re a fun diversion if you have friends over, but in the grand scheme of things they aren’t a core component of Luigi’s Mansion 3 compared to the main story.
While this is only our third Luigi’s Mansion game in nearly 20 years, a rarity for most of Nintendo’s other franchises, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is an experience that easily justifies the longer wait since Dark Moon. This full-fledged sequel delivers on just about every aspect from gameplay, to visuals, and especially to giving players a well-crafted, spooky adventure of puzzle-solving and exploration. Though I hope we get a return trip to the series sometime sooner rather than later, Luigi’s Mansion 3 shows better than ever that Luigi is more than capable of carrying his own game, even one that’s meant to give us happiness at his expense.
Now just give us Super Luigi Odyssey, please.