Luigi’s Mansion is a well loved and remembered Gamecube classic for a reason. It’s a creative and fun title for the Mario franchise, even if it is a little bit too short in my opinion. The one mansion was a fun location with a spooktacular atmosphere, but always felt a little small compared to Super Mario 64‘s Peach’s Castle and variety of levels. Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon for the 3DS was a fun and impressive title for the handheld. While creative with its gameplay and increasing the amount of locations and environments for the player to explore, it lacked some of the personality of its predecessor due to the lack of special boss ghosts.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 for the Switch builds upon both games without mixing things up too much. Special and unique boss ghosts are back from the original, the variety of levels and areas from Dark Moon are present, and the game delivers consistent FUN!!
The familiar vacuum sucking action is back!! Luigi more or less retains his moveset from Dark Moon. The plunger hookshot and dark light return. The newest mechanics introduced to the game are the ghost bash, a move that can be performed while vacuuming ghosts after a gauge is filled. Luigi swings, bashes, and thrashes some poor spectral fool around like they’re stuck in the steel cage with the world’s best, unofficial ghostbuster. Beyond that, ghost fighting is pretty much the same as the last entries. Stun them with a flashlight burst, suck them up, and move on. The ghosts still put up a hardy fight, dragging Luigi around if he doesn’t tug back. Boss ghost fights build on the basic combat mechanics with each ghost typically having a unique way to defeat it using the various tools at Luigi’s disposal. That said, combat is still as much fun as it was back in 2001 on the Gamecube.
The next major mechanic is a new character called Gooigu. Gooigi allows for co-op in the main single player campaign (good for players with kids or siblings). For single players, Gooigi allows players to solve new puzzles and helps with certain boss fights. Managing two characters is not erroneous though as switching back and forth between the two is instant with a push of the right control stick as Luigi and Gooigi can go places the other can’t. For example, Gooigi melts in water, but he can slip past bars, spikes, and other pointy obstacles with no issues. Luigi can go where it’s wet and activate certain objects Gooigi cannot. While Gooigi has a quarter of the health Luigi does, he regenerates his health rapidly after not taking damage for a little while. If Gooigi is killed (he can usually withstand 2 or 3 hits tops), he respawns in the Poltergust’s tank to be released after a few seconds. Any health Gooigi picks up can restore Luigi’s health, which is really handy for single players trying to keep the main character alive in ghost plagued, trap filled rooms (of which there are plenty of). If I was in a pinch, I would use Gooigi as a scout to check areas with traps and minor hazards and search for health while Luigi stayed in a corner. Switching between the two characters is easy and instant, making for some fun juggling during a couple particular boss fights.
My only complaint about gameplay involves one or two issues with the controls, particularly the dark light. Pressing X activates the light, but that occupies a thumb that would be better kept on the right-hand control stick. Pressing two of the shoulder buttons and holding them down activates the dark light, but hitting the wrong shoulder buttons at the same time activates a Poltergust powered jump. I think it would have been better if pressing X made Luigi jump and the shoulder buttons were dedicated to other functions to help reduce confusion. It takes a little getting used to and players can adjust, but I still found it a little frustrating when I meant to use the dark light instead of jump and vice versa until I was fully adjusted. I suspect the game has this particular control scheme to accommodate the use of both Joy-cons being used at the same time, but I still found myself wishing I could use just one button for one particular function at a time.
Control complaints aside, the boss fights in this game are probably the best and most memorable I’ve experienced in years. Sure, Zelda: Breath of the Wild had the Ganon Blights (which were OK, but lack the flavor of previous Zelda titles) and Metroid: Dread had some great bosses (KRAID!!) mixed in with some repetitive mini-bosses, every boss in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is out of the park. This is because the bosses are so creative and so much fun, even if they are just giant tropes. One of my favorite boss fights was a T-rex skeleton possessed by a caveman ghost. It required some clever use of Gooigi, the Poltergust’s functions, petrified eggs, and was a spectacle to behold. The bosses generally require little in the way of “special moves” and intense grinding, instead relying on the player’s familiarity with the controls and their ability to think of novel ways to use the tools at their disposal to overcome their foes. If for some reason the player gets stuck, E. Gadd will phone in with a hint. This hint system can be turned off in the options, but the hints themselves aren’t egregious and don’t play the game for you. They’re there if you want them and can be switched off if you don’t.
This is one of the best looking games on the Switch. The textures are crazy detailed on Luigi in particular. Its possible to see the fabric in his sweater and the stitches forming the “L” on his hat. Those little details make Luigi’s model stand out from the rest of the cast. On the other hand, many other characters including the ghosts feel smoother and less detailed. Not that it matters because everything is so cartoony, cute, and so much fun to look at, players won’t likely notice. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like a bit of a contrast compared to the rest of the cast.
Levels are varied and differ from place to place. Everything in the game looks like it was placed with care and purpose mostly for the purpose of Luigi to break, wreck, thrash, and suck up with his vacuum cleaner. The animations of feathers flying from pillows and ghosts pushing against the nozzle are entertaining and rewarding to watch.
Speaking of animations, each character has magnitudes of expression. Luigi usually jumps out of his own skin, fumbles and rolls when he falls, and routinely acts terrified. Hellen Gravely jumps from calm to furious depending on what she sees, and when King Boo shares the screen with Hellen, she acts like a tweenaged girl infatuated with a boy band member. Or a weeb finding a new waifu. The jury on which trope to use is still out mostly because the judge likes making fun of everyone.
The boss ghosts have some funniest and most entertaining animations a gamer can witness. One particular ghost with memorable animations is the one I called Micheal Phelps. He works out in a pool and flexes at Luigi, mocking the Dust Buster bedecked string bean. His flexing and unabashedly alpha male attitude bursts with every motion he takes, even when he’s confused about whether or not to smack Gooigi or Luigi with a water polo ball. The T-Rex stomps around, tugging and straining against its central support pole. The musician ghost fumes when his performance is interrupted by Luigi. The animations make the ghosts’ personalities pop on the screen and its a real treat to see them because their character and personality hits like a boxer augmented with a jackhammer for a fist.
Luigi and Gooigi, the two characters players spend the most time with, are no slouches in the animated department either. When Gooigi is out for a boss battle and Luigi is active, Gooigi will clap for Luigi’s victory. If the player is controlling Gooigi, Luigi will jump up and down or give a thumbs up. They seem to play off of each other and act like cheerleaders. Stopping for a few seconds to pay attention is a must to view some of less noticeable animations. They’re present, but it may take a little bit of patience to catch them.
Music and Sound
The music in Luigi’s Mansion 3 won’t win any sound contests, but it remains solid and fun. Heavy use of the oboe, bassoon, and other heavy sounding woodwinds makes for a memorable soundtrack. The main theme sounds a little lighter and less intense than the original mix from the original games, which makes the game a little less tense. Instead, the music creates a more mysterious or creepy as opposed to dreadful atmosphere. While the songs are short, I do remember at least a couple songs and found myself along with the game a couple times. The main theme is a real earworm; I’ve caught myself humming it at school while I walk to or getting ready for my next class.
While the music and melodies themselves remain consistent throughout the game, they change frequently by using different genres of music and suites of instruments based on the floor’s theme. And the themes get pretty wild for a hotel, ranging from the expected (shopping areas, rooms, a basement) to the outright insane (a pirate cove and ship, a prehistoric museum, and an ancient Egyptian tomb). Each theme informs what the music sounds like, and that makes each floor that much more unique.
The sounds effects are top-notch and stick in my head better than the music. The Poltergust still has a nice hum and buzz when it activates. Gooigi squishes and gurgles when he interacts with the environment, simply adding more to his character. Luigi’s yelps and utterances when he encounters the ghastly bad guys add to the game’s humor. Whether that humor brings eye rolls or giggles is not up to me, but I found myself at least having a sensible giggle at the plumber’s antics and exclamations of fear and joy in victory.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is absurdly light on story, so to heck with spoilers. King Boo is back thanks to a new antagonist named Hellen Gravely because she has a crush on him and wants senpai to notice her. King Boo kidnaps Mario, Peach, and three Toads with Luigi barely escaping by leaping down a laundry chute. Congratulations. Within 15 minutes of the introductory cutscene, the game starts. While I like games with interesting stories, sometimes they take too long to get going. Luigi’s Mansion 3 doesn’t screw around. It knows why you picked it up; you want to dust buster some ghosts, and that you will!
What the game lacks in story (to its benefit) it makes up for in atmosphere and characterization. E Gadd is still loads of fun thanks to his whacky inventions and flippant disregard for people over his creations. Polterpup is probably the single best addition to the Mushroom Kingdom in years and is still just as adorable as he was in Dark Moon. This game follows up the relationship between Luigi and Polterpup as the ghost dog acts more like a beloved and playful hound than a troublesome stray seeking attention. Anytime Polterpup appears (and he appears quite frequently), I always grinned. Luigi is a scaredy-cat facing down cute, troublesome, and sometimes nasty phantoms (including but not limited to: a mall cop ghost, a “not”-Scottish king, and a menacing, bad-tempered boiler worker) and watching his reactions to the scenarios he faces is giggle worthy every time.
The new antagonist is Hellen Gravely, King Boo’s biggest fan and wanna-be girlfriend. She’s the one responsible for setting Luigi and friends up, and watches his every move from a penthouse in the game. Hellen fawns over King Boo and fumes over Luigi, and watching her reactions as the game goes on is pretty entertaining. She makes for a fun new character to serve along side King Boo, which keeps things interesting. During my first play through, I found myself wishing Hellen was the final big bad, but I understand why King Boo was brought back. King Boo is to Luigi what Bowser is to Mario, and it’s all part of the fun.
What ultimately makes Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the atmosphere and the ghosts. Whereas Luigi’s Mansion focused primarily on the ghosts, Dark Moon focused more on locale and level variety. Each preceding game had its strengths, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 manages to combine the first two games’ strengths into one package. It’s fun to play for a first time because discovering the hotel’s various floors, rooms, and occupants is all part of the charm. It’s fun for a second play through for the sake of finding new things and going, “Oh yeah! I remember this part now!” It’s just as exciting the second time as it was the first time, sort of like connecting with a friend once a year at the convention you both look forward (half of the anticipation is seeing each other again). In short: happy feelings!
A first play through of this game is worth a few giggles and tons of fun, but a second play through brings greater appreciation for the care and work that went into this game. It took me about 10 or 11 hours to play through the game the first time, but that’s because I wanted to collect as much money and jewels as possible. I’ve never 100 percented this game, and given from what I’ve seen, it seems like a game that will not take too much to 100 percent with a little persistence.
This is a must play for admirers of Nintendo’s green plumber, and is a great adventure game for younger audiences (age 9 and upward I’d say) and the young at heart. This game is by far some of the most fun I’ve had with the Switch and it’s near perfect. For those wanting cartoonish and innocent fun, it is worth playing. For parents wanting a good game for your kid, it’s worth it because of the comical nature of the game and the co-op and multiplayer elements allow you and/or other siblings to join in on the fun. The game is solid and entirely worth your money. Find it and play it! Gooigi compels you.