Luigi has come a long way from his status as a simple 2-player on the NES. Although his first appearance as the star of Luigi’s Mansion was a bit hectic at the launch of the GameCube (not a traditional Mario game to push the system, and a brief general experience), there’s no denying that the game was full of all sorts of clever ideas and had great graphics that played on the GameCube’s strengths. The original game introduced us to the extent of Luigi’s fear of dark rooms and sinister forces, but it wasn’t until Next Level Games developed a sequel for 3DS that it reached a wider audience and became a huge success. Now they’re back to show what they can do with the increased switching power, and wow, they can do a lot!
Luigi’s Mansion 3 starts with a bus that takes Luigi and his friends to the Last Resort Hotel for a long awaited holiday. He won a free trip, but not everything is as it seems. At first sight, the hotel is quite nice. When you sign in to Mario, Princess Peach and a couple of toads immediately become suspects. The man at the counter, and in fact all the hotel staff, has blue skin and seems to be wearing human masks. Um… (Clears throat) As soon as Luigi arrives in his room, he takes a book and immediately falls asleep. When he woke up, the hotel had lost its beautiful glow and had turned into a dark and gloomy place. It doesn’t take long before he realizes that all the other members of his group have been kidnapped – frozen in frames – and that he has to save them. Next time I think twice before going on holiday, because Super Mario Sunshine hasn’t been very good for them either.
Visually, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is Nintendo’s finest game on the Switch. Not only is the hotel filled to the brim with small details and objects with which Luigi can interact, but Luigi himself also seems to be straight out of a Pixar movie. I know this has been said before about games, but I’m serious – it really looks like you’re playing an interactive cartoon. It’s crazy how he likes it and how he can react to the fear of jumping. If you move Luigi in different places, his legs start to shake, because he gets more and more nervous about what’s around the next corner. His expressions are hilarious and exaggerated, which makes even the most hardened player laugh.
Not only was Luigi beautifully animated, everything else was! Every room in the hotel has been masterfully designed to sell the idea that it’s haunted. A light breeze blows through the open window and moves the long curtains back and forth. The sinister glow of some candles and lanterns in the main hall gives it the perfect Halloween atmosphere. What’s most impressive, however, is that these aren’t just static images that you can interact with in almost the whole game. Certain objects such as toilets, washbasins, closets and bins can be used by Luigi, allowing you to discover hidden treasures such as gold coins, dollar bills and so on.
But the real pleasure comes when you turn on your super powerful vacuum cleaner, the Poltergust G-00. Almost anything can be manipulated or sucked by this incredible gadget, and the end result is a game mechanic who never gets tired. You can aim at anything, pull the ZR tractor and go to town. In most cases, by sucking on, for example, sofa cushions, you will discover other secret money reserves that you can then add to your sofa. Other things like curtains and tablecloths can be partially vacuumed, but then you have to pull until the rev counter is full, then press A to remove the fabric, often revealing a new secret that usually leads to more pieces in the pot. Almost every room is filled to the brim with a kind of hidden money, and there are other secrets to discover such as hidden passageways, secret levers, and all kinds of fun little puzzles to solve during the game.
No matter how much fun it is to explore every room in this gigantic hotel, it is also fascinating to meet different spirits. The developers have really outdone themselves in this respect, creating not only some very memorable ghost bosses, but also many low-level villains to fight, each with a naughty and fun personality to look at. As with all other parts of the game, the animations of the spectral enemies are very detailed – so much so that sometimes I’ve just seen them do their thing. Often you’ll find a crack or a hole in the wall that you can see through, and on the other side you’ll see what the ghosts are doing. One day my two young nieces were sitting next to me and in the bathroom we discovered a ghost buzzing a song and brushing his teeth. They giggled at the sight, but then he took his toothbrush and rubbed it against his ass, making them both laugh even louder. These little subtleties shine throughout the game, and I can’t remember another title that paid so much care and attention to each of its enemies.
The boss’s spirits are particularly impressive – everyone has their own personality. I almost felt bad for some of them because they were just trying to live their own lives and not hurting anyone. They each have their own attack patterns that need to be learned. In fact, one of the things I had to learn early on is that the bosses in this game are hard to pin down when you’re fighting your drawn guns. In other words: It is often necessary to let the boss attack several rounds before he discovers his weaknesses. If you attack before this sequence is completed, you will not make any progress and you may become frustrated. Growing up in the NES era of quickly defeating the bosses, that anticipation and vision of what was going to happen got the best of me in some of the battles. Slowly and steadily the race is won!
The battle in Luigi’s Manor 3 will be familiar to everyone who played the previous game in the series. In most cases you first have to stun the ghost with a flashlight, which freezes it in the air. You can suck them out, but they usually start fighting and move away from you. Just like in the fishing game you have to pull an analog stick in the opposite direction to bring back the ghost. If your health meter is at zero, add another unit to your backpack. This time there is a master move that makes the game even more fun than previous editions. When you withdraw the stick, the circular indicator fills up and when it is full, you can press A to throw the ghost(s) on the ground. If you manage to touch other spirits, they will be damaged and they will also be stunned, so you can easily move towards them. You can also destroy certain items by throwing ghosts on them, which often reveal more loot.
Not all enemies are so easy to defeat, but Luigi has more possibilities. The first is the plunger-shot, with which you can pull the handle with a small piece of rope. Some spirits have a shield or other object that you have to remove before you try to stun them with the flashlight. Just pull the piston out of the object, then suck it and get the object out of your head. At this point you can knock them out and then catch them. These spirited spirits invent all kinds of ways to thwart Luigi’s attempts, and one of them is wearing sunglasses to deflect the torch! Luckily Luigi can approach them and blow them in his face with his cracking movement. Pressing both triggers simultaneously releases a jet of air that lifts Luigi and all objects near the ground. It’s also good to jump through some ground attacks!
Presented at the Luigi Manor: Black moon, black light returns. This allows Luigi to illuminate the surroundings with a special light, making invisible objects visible. If you’re stuck in a room and don’t know what to do, it can often open a secret room or door to get you back on track. There are also special paintings that you can see with coins and silver, and if you light them with your black light, you will be richly rewarded. Oh, and you need it to save all your friends from the frozen animations in their photos, too.
As mentioned before, there are many small puzzles to solve around the hotel. Some are more difficult than others, and Gooigi is often involved in the fun ones. No, it’s not a typo. Gooigi is Professor E. Gadd’s new invention that looks like a version of Luigi in green jelly. It has essentially the same movement, plus a few extra features. Because it consists of a mucous membrane, it slides easily over metal rods and is impervious to sharp objects such as spikes and arrows. This allows it to adapt to tight spaces, such as pipes and sewers, and to penetrate spaces that Luigi cannot reach. Some puzzles require the use of both characters at the same time, which you can easily do by alternating them, or you can give the controller to a friend and play as two in cooperative mode. Gooigi is honestly a pretty cool and fun character to play with, but he can’t get wet or he will melt and die. Fortunately, it has an unlimited lifespan, so the only costs are actually a few seconds of downtime. He is an excellent addition to the characters and we hope he will return in the next episodes.
As we mentioned earlier, the attention to detail in this game is unparalleled, and so is the sound design of the game. Not only are the sound effects impressive, with lots of Luigi’s voices, ghosts and other characters, but the music is to die for (yes, I told you). The score is hauntingly beautiful and the way the music fits into the main theme is beautiful. Each floor of the hotel has a unique and often fantastic atmosphere to explore, and the music fits perfectly with every theme. Mario’s button returns from the first game. So you can push the D-pad in certain directions and Luigi will scream for his brother. A small bonus I only discovered at the end of the game is that if you leave Luigi in the elevator for a while, he starts humming the music from the elevator – another return to the first game. From beginning to end, the music plays an important role in the mood and tone of the play, and the composers have done everything they could.
So far, my evaluation of Luigi’s Manor 3 has been rather light, but unfortunately some problems can really lower the game level for some players. The biggest problem I’ve encountered from the start is that the operating system isn’t suitable for players like me, who are used to aiming for the head in games. Of course, we may not be the majority of players, but many people tilt the right analog stick to aim, and that’s just not an option here. It was very difficult for me to understand the vertical while striving for a void, and I really struggled with the controls during the first few hours of the game. There are several options that can be turned on or off that may or may not help some players manage the way Luigi moves and sucks, but in the end I felt that the default setting worked best. What makes the confusion even greater (at least for me) is that the movement controls point in the opposite direction from the control buttons. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but if you push the analog stick straight forward, Luigi will lead the vacuum cleaner up. However, if you tilt the controller forward, Luigi will point it down. Well, in my opinion movement controls make sense, because by pointing the controller forward/down you lower the vacuum, but by pushing the stick in the same direction upwards, and for some reason it took me a lot of time to get used to it. Some of you may not have a problem with that, but I’d like to point out that it really unbalanced me for a good third of the game.
The other distressing problem has less to do with management than with game design. Although I never got tired of sniffing up everything in every room, I think a great opportunity has been missed by not investigating what you find in different ways. In almost all cases, if you find something of value, it will be money. The first few hours of the game were great in that respect, but by the time I reached the 10-hour limit, I wasn’t very motivated to keep exploring because I knew all I would find was more money. How’s the money going? Well, you can buy a few extras from Professor E. Gadd, as in. B. a golden bone that will bring you back to life, or tracking objects that will let you know if you are near a secret Bu or one of the gems hidden on each floor. In other words: Money is never an obstacle, and at the end of the game I had enough. It would be nice to discover more secrets by sucking up everything but money. This gambling mechanism didn’t last throughout the entire game, and several other people I spoke to agreed that the part of the game that got boring. For some reason, however, I felt compelled to sniff out everything that lay ahead until the end.
In addition to the two-player cooperative mode mentioned above, you can also enjoy some of the competitive multiplayer modes. ScreamPark allows up to 8 players on a Switch to take part in three different mini-games. In Ghost Hunting you’ll explore a cemetery and try to catch as many ghosts as possible in a given time. The gunfire was my favorite. Two teams fight to destroy the ghosts to get the cannonball they’re holding. Then it must be taken and loaded into a cannon where it can be fired at moving targets. The team with the most points at the end wins, but it can be quite difficult when players fight for the cannonballs. It’s heartbreaking to fight so hard for the ball and win it, just to watch it attack and miss the goal! Finally, there is the coin swim, where you jump on an inflatable tube and move around the pool to collect as many coins as possible. Mines will appear in which you can push your opponents to hit their tube and collect their coins. The team with the most grades at the end wins.
The newest game is ScareScraper, in which up to 8 players can play online or locally (the latter allows up to 2 players per switch – so if you want to play locally with 8 players you need 4 switches and 4 copies of the game). It’s a fully cooperative experience where the 8 players try to catch all the ghosts and find all the toads in a given time. It’s a real explosion and I’ve had a lot of fun in this mode. On a local level it’s a bit more fun because it’s easy to talk to each other and communicate where you need to go, but the costs are high.
I always thought Luigi’s Mansion games were kind of in Nintendo’s B-level franchise, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the best in the series and has a lot of features. The most important search took me about 20 hours, but don’t forget that I finished the search and really took the time to explore every nook and cranny. If you are in a hurry or tired of collecting over and over again, you can probably easily save about 5 hours. Although the presentation of the game seems to be aimed at a younger audience, there are some decent challenges and especially the newest bosses are hard to pin down. Once you’ve discovered the secret to defeating every opponent, the game isn’t too difficult, but it can take time to figure out the tricks. If ever there was a game to demonstrate the power of the switch, this is it! Control problems and the lack of a reward system for absorbing all items in sight are the only flaws of an otherwise excellent game.
Luigi’s House 3 Overview
- Graphs – 10/10
- Sound – 10/10
- Gameplay – 7/10
- Late complaint – 7,5/10
Final thoughts: GRAND
Luigi’s Manor 3 has excellent graphics and stunning music that create an enchanting and terrifying experience you’ll want to explore. Each floor has unique pieces and elegant minds that are fun to work with. The controls you have to get used to and the low rewards for solving puzzles (money that doesn’t do much good) make what is otherwise an excellent candidate for the Switch game of the year.
Craig has covered the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently editor and employee of Age of Games.
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