Luigi is the best brother, and I simply won’t hear a bad word against him. Where his more famous big brother fits in wherever he is needed, Luigi has maintained a consistent personality for years. Cowardly and cautious is our green prince (except when behind the wheel of a go kart), so it beggars belief that we’re up to the third time that he’s ended up battling ghosts through spooky buildings.
Luigi may be one of my favourites, but he is mostly definitely a little dumb. This time, the Green Machine has been invited, along with Mario, Peach and some Toads, to a gorgeous remote hotel. Rather than realising that such invitations always lead to trouble, they all willingly run into – you guessed it – a trap!
Narrowly escaping the same fate as all of his friends, of being turned into portraits, Luigi sees the beautiful veneer of the hotel fall away and discovers that he is once again in a haunted building. It’s a realisation that he obviously accepts with all of his typical cowardice, as it once again somehow falls to him to save everyone from the ghosts and escape from the imposing hotel.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 plays much like its predecessors, as you run around the various rooms and floors of the hotel, stunning ghosts with the Strobulb before vacuuming them up with the Poltergust. The ghosts once again come in colour coded variants, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the larger-scale boss encounters also make a welcome return too.
You’ll be taking these down with the usual stun and vacuum attacks of the series, but the new slam attack and burst style move add a little more variety. Slamming ghosts repeatedly into the ground (and other ghosts) knocks off sizeable chunks of their remaining health and it never stops being satisfying. They’re small changes, but incredibly welcome ones that make the game a joy to play.
The boss ghosts are easily the best they have been in the series. These will sometimes require solving small puzzles to stun them, or even travelling across multiple floors to finally defeat the boss. Every single one of these encounters is incredibly satisfying to work out, especially as they all have unique animations when being sucked up.
It’s not all business as usual in Luigi’s Mansion 3, as lessons have been learned from the previous titles and other Mario titles. Moving the series back to a single location has meant that the level design is tighter, but the different floors have individual themes that still allow for a lot of creativity. Climbing giant plants, exploring sewers, and gatecrashing film sets make for a lot of visual variety.
There’s also a strong feeling of “I wonder if?” throughout the game, similar to that of Super Mario Odyssey. Every floor has gems to find, and most of them I found simply by looking around and spotting things that looked like I could probably interact with. More often than not, it turned out that I could. You’ll want to be looking everywhere to find these collectables, as some are really well hidden.
Luigi is not alone this time, with not one but two companions to share the burden and help solve puzzles and enemy encounters. Polterpup is basically a tour guide in the early game, and possibly my biggest highlight of the whole game, while Gooigi is a second Luigi that can be used as a second body while puzzle solving, making operating two things at once an actual possibility.
It’s the use of Gooigi that really makes this game for me. They can be controlled by switching between Luigi and his Flubber-like counterpart, or by handing a controller to a second player for some co-op, but the number of different ways you can use this mechanic through the game are just staggering. Some of the Gooigi-led puzzles are so clever that I physically slapped my head when I figured them out.
The only downsides to the game, if you want to call them that, are that the controls are occasionally a little fiddly and the online is lacklustre at best. This being said, the control problems are only noticeable very rarely – you soon get used to the series’ control scheme – and the online isn’t the main focus of the game at all. Scarescraper is fun if you have a group to play with, and I mean that, but it’s more of a distraction than anything else.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is easily the best the series has ever looked, and while this obviously owes a lot to the step up to the new platform, Nintendo are making the most of it. The lighting effects throughout the hotel are particularly gorgeous, and there’s a delightful bounciness to the animation used throughout the game. The prize for best visual goes to E.Gadd’s face while running, which is 10/10 material alone.
The soundtrack also stands out, with a lot of the series’ themes and motifs returning in one guise or another. What’s impressive with the score is how often and in how many variations it manage to return to the main themes. The rest of the sound design is consistently punchy and fitting, with every character, ghost, and object sounding fantastic.
Finally, I want to call attention to how great the writing and attention to detail are. The writing is so funny and completely tongue-in-cheek, with a lot of nods and references to Nintendo’s past – I won’t ruin it, but this game’s version of the Game Boy Horror is genius. Also, who wouldn’t want to play a game where you can high five Toads and pet Polterpup?