I can’t quite be certain, but I think Luigi’s flamboyant moustache, the furry little creature that lives right under his nose, bounces as he runs around the hotel of Last Resort. Even when the first Luigi’s Mansion graced the GameCube, the lankier plumbing brother had such evocative animations as he ever-so-cautiously explored the dark and clearly haunted hallways and rooms of his mansion. With the third game and the series’ first appearance on Nintendo Switch, he’s perhaps even more full of terrified character.
Compare that to the gloopy resolve of Gooigi, his summonable goo clone who plays a part in many of the game’s puzzles. Clearly being able to simply walk through grates and spikes, to be splatted and simply re-summoned from Luigi’s Poltergust 9000 has imbued this possibly soulless creation with no sense of self-preservation. Sometimes, given how little health Gooigi has, his self-assured posture is a little misplaced.
Better than that, Luigi and Gooigi are a gateway to, not just some interesting puzzles, but also co-operative play if you fancy teaming up with a friend. You can both play with full controllers and paired Joy-Con, making good use of the right analogue stick for aiming the Poltergust’s sucker and other abilities, but it’s also pretty serviceable with a single Joy-Con in hand.
Our latest preview saw Luigi working his way through the seventh floor of the Last Resort. Each floor you visit has a different theme to it, but ultimately has the same goal of retrieving the elevator button so that you can reach the next floor – Luigi’s a plumber, not an electrician, or I assume he’d be prying off the lift’s floor panel and fiddling with wires.
Shakily walking through the hallways of this floor, you find it to be mystifyingly overgrown with grass and the walls covered in leaves. It’s not just ghosts that you have to beware of here, but snakes as well, who can clamp onto the back of Luigi and force you to use a stomp-like attack to shock it off. Eventually, you come to the floor’s central lobby, and its theme becomes clear: Little Shop of Horrors. Spotting the lift button easily in reach, Luigi scampers toward it, only to see a floating watering can pour water on a little bud which suddenly grows tall enough to eat the button and then continues to grow up through the stairwell. Don’t worry, it doesn’t start singing.
Luigi’s full skill set is put to use as you climb up the spiralling staircase and enter rooms as you find your path blocked by various plants and offshoots. You’ll be using the Poltergust as a vacuum cleaner to suck up piles of leaves and reveal other parts of the room, turning on the dark light torch to reveal secrets, firing the plunger at things to then suck onto them and fling them at breakable items, puzzling over how to clear plants – look for knots that you can latch onto and pull at their base – and, of course, battling ghosts!
It’s here that my struggles with the game’s controls return. It never quite feels natural to me to have two analogue sticks and not have twin-stick shooter control a la Super Stardust. The left stick moves Luigi around and he automatically faces that way, but as soon as you start charging up a blinding Strobulb attack or engage the Poltergust’s suck and blow, now it’s on to the right analogue stick to aim him. Except aiming works as though it were a first or third-person shooter, turning and tilting him relatively to where he’s facing instead of spinning him to face the direction you tilt the stick in. For me, it’s the wrong control scheme and it’s a shame that Nintendo isn’t including an option to switch things up. Vertical tilt is possible with motion sensors, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t, to my mind.
It gets in the way, making things that bit more awkward as I’m battling ghosts. There’s plenty of variety to the spectres you’ll encounter, whether simple ghosts floating around, those that will grab flowers and other objects to use as a shield from your stunning flashes, or bigger units that will flail, charge at you or try to crush you.
The co-op through all of this feels particularly natural, adding another layer of chaos to the fights as you’re both stunning, sucking up and slamming ghosts around the rooms. There are also so many scenarios that work well with two players in mind, where you’d otherwise have to switch between characters in solo play. One moment had a giant plant tentacle come in and grab Luigi, relying on Gooigi to come and free him. This worked thanks to a ridiculous chainsaw attachment that the Poltergust can pick up, letting you demolish all of the furniture in the room (and I mean all), as well as coming in handy for this scenario. It’s also a neat little moment that teaches players the skills they need for the floor’s boss fight.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 isn’t a scary game – it’s more Ghostbusters than Paranormal Activity – but just as horror films can often be made so much better by watching them with another person or in a group, that’s now true of this spooky sequel. So who you gonna call?