'Luigi's Mansion 3': Game Review

'Luigi's Mansion' Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Nintendo
A family friendly spooktacular.

Engaging puzzles, heaps of charm and a gooey companion are more than enough to lift this haunted adventure above some minor gameplay issues.

It’s hard to not fall in love with Luigi’s Mansion 3. From its earliest stages, the latest offering from Nintendo has you mimicking the titular Italian plumber's excited little dance upon receiving his trusty Poltergust (a suped-up vacuum cleaner that aids in the exorcism of pesky spirits) before he trepidatiously sets forth on a ghostly adventure through the haunted halls of the Last Resort hotel. 

The premise is standard fare: Luigi, Mario, Peach and some Toads receive an invitation to the luxurious Last Resort (the ominous connotations are lost on our heroes) and, after a meeting with the establishment's owner Hellen Gravely, a series of shenanigans results in the crew being absorbed into individual paintings by King Boo, a big, regal ghost. Luigi, armed with the aforementioned Poltergust, must collect the missing buttons to the hotel’s elevator in order to unlock access to different floors and save his pals. 

Like the plot, the game's ghostbusting mechanics are easy to grasp: Point Poltergust at ghost, shine light to stun said spirit, suck in until the number above the phantom's head hits zero. Easy enough. This time around, Luigi also has access to a slam attack. When the cowardly plumber fills an onscreen meter, players can mash the A button and Luigi will slam a ghost onto the floor, depleting their health by 20 points. It's a helpful trick, but not surefire strategy for victory. You see, each of the different ghost types brings a new challenge to the table, while some of the standard ghosts are wont to throw a curveball such as wearing sunglasses to block Luigi's flashlight. 

The main challenge in fighting ghouls comes in maneuvering Luigi during the scrums, as the game's control scheme leaves a lot to be desired. Walking around the hotel is easy enough, as is controlling the Poltergust’s different abilities, but aiming the Poltergust isn't as simple. The vacuum is unruly when it’s needed the most, moving itself in different directions before settling in on a target. The joystick that aims the Poltergust is also set to a different orientation than the stick used to move Luigi, so when the player has to do both, the adjustment is very weird and frustrating. Luigi never seems to aim exactly where he needs to in these situations, no matter which way he moves or turns, and as the game progresses, that becomes a larger frustration. 

What’s more satisfying is the addition of Gooigi, a body double for The L-Man (Luigi calls himself that in the game) made entirely of a green-colored goo, naturally. The slimy iteration of our hero acts like his overall-sporting counterpart in every way, from movement to weaponry and more. He does, however, have a few added perks, like the ability to walk through barred windows and fences with no issue. But be warned, Gooigi has a major weakness: water. He hates the liquid and will immediately disappear if he comes into contact with it. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3 leans heavily on atmosphere for each individual floor of the Last Resort hotel. The game starts off with traditional accommodations — beds, end tables, a cheesy lobby shop — but as Luigi progresses higher up the Last Resort, each floor becomes its own little world. There’s a medieval arena, a forest, a movie theater and much, much more. 

Seemingly every corner of every room hides some secret, whether it’s a few coins or an entirely hidden area with even more to suck up with your Poltergust. The puzzles range from simple “move this object here” tasks to truly engaging riddles that require some outside-of-the-box thinking to clear. These challenges also add to the mystique of the Last Resort in a big way, giving Luigi and his gooey friend plenty to do during their stay. Opening every door feels like a new adventure with no way of knowing what lies behind it. 

However, this brings up another one of Luigi’s Mansion 3’s major flaws: backtracking. There are at least three situations that come to mind that are solely focused on going back through previous levels to find a key item. All three felt like filler. It's as though the development team wanted to add some additional floors onto the hotel, couldn’t think of a full pitch and instead tacked on these backtracking elements. 

For the first time in the series, Luigi's Mansion 3 introduces multiplayer with two main modes, ScareScraper and ScreamPark. ScareScraper is a multifloored structure for up to four players to tackle, with the number of floors changing each time. ScreamPark offers a more traditional head-to-head multiplayer offering, where teams can compete in one of three different events. The Luigi’s Mansion franchise never seemed suited for multiplayer, but these modes are surprisingly fun with a good group. ScreamPark especially brings some frantic fun to the table, and it may be the closest we ever get to a full-blown Luigi Party.

Luigi’s Mansion is a spook-tacular romp through a haunted hotel and a game that will have players smiling the entire time. The Last Resort hotel is frightening and awe-inspiring all at once, giving our hero plenty to explore throughout the 12-hour adventure. The filler backtracking sections aren’t great, and the controls are sometimes the scariest part of the game, but it’s possible to press on and not let those things get in the way. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the perfect adventure for the Halloween season — both solo and with friends — and it is sure to delight players any age with its ghostbustin’ goodness.