Luigi’s Mansion 3 is great. That’s it. Close the review, go buy the game. Okay, that’s not exactly fair, because it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. For a game series with only its third entry in the 18 years since the first game released, Luigi’s Mansion3 was met was a ton of excitement, and while it lived up to the hype in a lot of ways, it has some pretty egregious faults. But with the ability to play through the game cooperatively, I got my longtime co-op partner and fired it up.
Now, full disclaimer: there is a small chunk of gameplay that must be done to even unlock Gooigi—the second player’s goo-based Luigi avatar. But the vast majority of the game can be played with a friend locally—no online multiplayer for the main game, unfortunately.
It’s hard to say exactly what type of game Luigi’s Mansion 3 is. It’s sort of like a survival horror game—but it would probably only be scary to very little kids—if even then. You explore various floors of a hotel solving puzzles, and tangling with ghosts along the way—dispatching them with flashlight and vacuum cleaner in a way that hearkens back to the Ghostbuster movies.
As I mentioned, the entirety of Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes place in a hotel, but unlike the original game, it’s not interconnected. Instead, each floor works as a different level. Each floor also has its own theme or specific mechanic to contend with—there is a floor based on ancient Egypt with lots of traps, and another floor based around filming a movie. There is no lack of spooky mansion, though.
Luigi is a character that only recently started getting the recognition he deserves. And he really shines in the Luigi’s Mansion series, with Luigi’s Mansion 3 perhaps being his best outing. I love this dude. He’s terrified of absolutely EVERYTHING he runs across, but when his friends and brother need to be saved, he presses on despite his terror. I really end up rooting for him, even if the horrors he face look like something from the 1995 film Casper. Yeah, I’m old, but so is Luigi’s Mansion.
Gooigi is great, and you’ll use him whether you play the game solo or with a partner. He can do anything that Luigi does, and has the same equipment (if a green slime version of everything can be considered equipment) but he also….oozes. This allows him to slip through floor grates, fences and vents, which is essential to your puzzle solving as you progress in the game. His only real weakness is hydrophobia—if Gooigi touches even a single drop of water, he dematerializes. Oh, and he can’t turn doorknobs—though he makes up for it with that oozing through things ability.
That said, dematerializing is actually not particularly consequential. Gooigi has about a quarter of the health that Luigi does, but whenever he “dies” or “dematerializes” or whatever it is goo creatures do, he simply has to wait a few seconds and can then self-revive.
This is a brilliant way to do co-op and can really take the pressure off of a less experienced gamer. It gives them the opportunity to try things without really screwing up their partner, to sort of “be the hero” by taking hits, or just experiment without so much at risk. In fact, if you want, you can stow yourself in Luigi’s backpack for a bit until you’re needed again. Co-op with Luigi and Gooigi is some of the most fun I’ve had with a partner since Portal 2’s co-op mode.
Puzzles are accessible to everyone, though not so easy that those who enjoy more of a challenge will get bored. There’s lots to do, see and explore, and a robust array of collectibles to pick up from every floor that gives the game plenty of replayability beyond the main story mode. And if you’re frustrated with whatever you’re doing, you can have a lot of fun destroying entire rooms with your Poltergust to find sweet loot.
Each environment/room is full of stuff to interact with/suck in/ etc with lots of things to uncover by sucking them into your vacuum device. Things to find mostly consist of gem collectibles, which are different for every floor, and money. A small complaint we had about the game was that there was TONS of money to be found, but not that much in Egad’s shop that had us itching to spend. Your hard earned money will afford you Gold Bones, which let Luigi respawn in the same instance he died in, Boo Finders that help you locate tough enemies on the map, and Gem Finders, to help you gather up all those shiny collectibles. None of these items are particularly expensive or necessary, but they’re useful, and if you’re like us, and vacuum like your life depends on it, you’ll have the cash to splurge on a stockpile of them.
To solve puzzles and dispatch ghosts, you have your handy vacuum device, the Poltergust, and flashlight or “Strobulb”—with both its regular and dark light. Shoot a flash at a ghost, and use the vacuum to suck it up. It feels like you’re fighting against a fish, and sometimes you really have to wrestle enemies to defeat them. The Strobulb’s dark light uncovers hidden objects, and dispatches mimic-like enemies. Some of the best enemy encounters are the boss fights. Each boss feels similar to the others, but has their own complications to overcome to defeat them.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 has all the Nintendo charm you’d expect, with great music, all the humor you’d expect from a game featuring Luigi, and lickably gorgeous graphics—not photo-realistic like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but full of polish, shine and dazzling bright colors—from the sparkly sands around the pyramid, which have the delicate texture of powdered sugar, to the viscosity and gelatinous nature of Gooigi himself. In fact, I can’t think of a prettier Nintendo game since my all-time favorite, Super Mario 3D World on Wii U.
If there’s one major complaint we had, it was with the controls. While for the most part, the suck/blow and various other commands are easy to pick up and master, the lack of ability to invert the Y axis (standard on both console and PC games these days) really messed with us. This is even more confusing a choice because the gyro controls you’ll need to use in game have an inverted Y axis, further muddying the waters. We’re definitely not the only ones, and if we weren’t playing this for review, we’d probably join the growing number of voices on the internet waiting to play Luigi’s Mansion 3 until it is patched.
If you’re done with the main story, or just looking for more, there’s still plenty of co-op fun to be had with Luigi’s Mansion 3‘s additional content- the Scream Park and ScareScraper modes.
The ScreamPark is a place you’ll be able to visit with anywhere from 1 to 7 more of your friends, online or via couch co-op, for three different minigames that you can play anywhere from 2v2 to 4v4. There are three different minigames–in Ghost Hunt, gameplay is pretty similar to how you’re capturing ghosts in the main story of Luigi’s Mansion–you’ll just be in competition with another team to hunt down and eliminate the most ghosts. Polterpup will feature in this by scaring up and flushing out the ghosts, and occasionally, power-ups that will help give your team the edge will fall from the sky. The ScreamPark’s second game is Cannon Barrage, in which you will need to break the most targets on a giant wooden wheel of them to best your friends. This game requires careful communication on your teams, as one person will need to load and fire the cannon while another (or others) will need to direct them when to fire to hit targets and get points, with golden targets netting more points. The opposing team can interfere by stealing cannonballs, too, so you’ll need to be on guard. The third and final minigame in Luigi’s Mansion 3’s ScreamPark is Coin Floating, which finds you and your gooey opponents on “floaty” rafts in a swimming pool, trying to collect coins and avoid mines. It seems straightforward but controls are chaotic, and netting a star instead of a coin lets an opposing team member lay siege to your vessel.
ScareScraper is a more straightforward way to play with friends, online or local, and is unlocked at the same time you’ll pick up the ability to use your gelatinous friend Gooigi and gain access to 2 player co-op. In ScareScraper mode, you can play with up to 3 other friends, who can choose to be gooey or corporeal, and work together with them to solve puzzles similar to the ones in the main story or clear floors of ghosts.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is great. The controls are certainly a frustrating setback at times, but that was probably the sole dark spot in an otherwise sublime, silly and spooky adventure . If you can deal with a non-inverted Y axis, then nothing is stopping you running around and sucking up g-g-g-ghosts. And while it’s stopping it from getting four stars from me, it’s certainly no reason not to take your own chances at the Last Chance Hotel.
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