Leaning on the best aspects of its predecessors, Luigi’s Mansion 3 puts forth a new set of charming, haunted escapades that will suck in series veterans and newcomers alike like the business end of the Poltergust G-00. Through its large assortment of ghosts and puzzles, new gameplay mechanics, and the expanded multiplayer suite, the game is in many ways the strongest the franchise has ever seen. Aside from the odd hiccup here and there, Luigi’s Mansion 3 succeeds in everything it sets out to do.
A five-star resort
The haunted hotel adventure in Luigi’s Mansion 3 starts off strong and only gets better in later floors as more creative environments, ghosts, and puzzles take center stage. Running through the first few areas of the game, the hotel aesthetic is fairly bland. While acclimating yourself to all of Luigi’s newest ghost hunting tools, you’ll go through a garage and several cluttered, dirty, obviously haunted guest rooms — nothing you would not expect to see in a haunted hotel.
The predictable start is not a hindrance, however, since you will be pretty consumed learning the ins and outs of all of Luigi’s new toys for mowing down ghosts. Luigi has built up his puzzle-solving and ghost fighting toolbox considerably since the first game, and it takes some time to get a handle on all of their basic functions. In addition to the return of basic ghost-sucking powers and Dark Moon’s Dark Light (which unveils hidden doors, chests, and other items of interest), the new Poltergust G-00 fires plungers, lets Luigi slam ghosts all over the place, launches Luigi into the air with the burst mechanic, and carries the fully operational ghost-hunting clone of Luigi, Gooigi.
Nearly as soon as you secure a workable understanding of Luigi’s ghost hunting arsenal, though, the standard floors give way to much more adventurous, outlandish areas. Medieval castles lined with suits of armor, gardens teeming with man-eating plants, and museums full of dinosaur bones with too much life left in them are just a few of the many creative themes that provide a healthy dose of variety throughout the hotel’s 17 floors. While some may still ultimately prefer the claustrophobic, cohesive design of the original game’s mansion, the hotel does an excellent job of tying Dark Moon’s disjointed missions and multiple mansions into one singular structure while still maintaining their excellent variation.
Who ya gonna call?
The new gameplay mechanics in Luigi’s Mansion 3 all have their own uniquely useful applications. The Suction Shot’s plungers stick to weak surfaces so that Luigi can pull down crumbling walls and heave heavy items over his shoulder. Ghost slamming works great for taking down hordes of specters with deep health pools. The burst mechanic gets Luigi out of trouble when he is incapacitated by threats like hordes of bats. Gooigi, finally, is often a star of the show with his special abilities, like the ability to walk through spikes unharmed, and his trademark goopy sloshing. By switching between Luigi and his clone, players can use Gooigi to solve all sorts of two-person puzzles new to the series.
Figuring out how all of these new abilities work is a daunting delight. Early in the game especially, I often got stuck for several minutes at a time because I would forget that something like the Suction Shot or the Dark Light existed while trying to juggle everything. Once I was more comfortable with all of the different gameplay features, tackling the widest array of environmental puzzles in the series and hunting for Boos and collectibles became really, really fun.
Haunting at its best
Beyond fantastic level design and a useful array of puzzle-solving tools, Luigi’s Mansion 3’s single-player mode also succeeds where it matters most: ghost hunting. Taking advantage of the Switch’s considerable power upgrade over the GameCube and 3DS, the game does not hesitate to throw up to a dozen ghosts at you at a time, which you can thankfully handle quickly with a few well-aimed slams. The variety of basic ghost types is not as immediately apparent as in the original game, but there are still plenty of colorful spooks for Luigi to send back to the grave.
Portrait ghosts, the unique boss specters distinct from common ghosts that take floor-appropriate forms such as a gardener or a movie director, also return in glorious fashion. The portrait ghosts were a huge part of what made the original Luigi’s Mansion so great, and they bring their own taunting personalities and individualized capture conditions to Luigi’s Mansion 3 to great effect after being sorely missed in Dark Moon. Often teasing and harassing Luigi through an entire floor before you finally get the chance to suck ‘em up, portrait ghosts are part of the charm that ties the whole single-player experience together.
Beyond an excellent single-player, Luigi’s Mansion 3 also tries to build off of Dark Moon’s ScareScraper mode with its own expansive multiplayer offering that includes the return of the ScareScraper, full co-op in the story mode, and a few minigames in the ScreamPark.
The ScareScraper, in which up to eight Luigis team up to advance through challenging floors loaded with ghosts, traps, and treasures, is incredibly addicting and should keep plenty of folks returning to the game long after the credits roll.
The story co-op, meanwhile, allows another player to join in on the hotel trek as Gooigi. The hordes of ghosts and two-person puzzles make the game quite well-suited for co-op, but the mode’s detached, zoomed out camera greatly complicates navigation in some vertical rooms and chaotic boss fights.
Finally, the ScreamPark’s ghostly minigames are pretty comparable to a standard Mario Party minigame. Objectives include cruising around a pool in a scramble for coins, using cannons to break targets, and some good old-fashioned competitive ghost hunting. As you would probably guess, the ghost hunting minigame is by far the most fun. It’s another mode that I can see myself revisiting time and time again.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a fantastic evolution for the series. Its significantly longer campaign, slew of multiplayer options, and more varied gameplay distinguish it from the more arcadey, speedrun-friendly original to a point that direct comparison is challenging, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 is an obvious step up from Dark Moon, which was already a great game in its own right. The hotel adventure is amazing and the ScareScraper is addictive enough to add hours of gameplay. Series fans have a fantastic sequel to look forward to, and newcomers should take Luigi’s Mansion 3 as an opportunity to jump into one of Nintendo’s most unique franchises while it is firing on all cylinders.
A review code was provided by the publisher.