Platform: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Nintendo-sanctioned Ghostbusters game doubling as Hotel Mario 2
It’s rather surreal that a Nintendo game starring Mario’s “lesser” brother ends up being the more charismatic and inventive one of the lot. As charming and as heroic Mario is, he’s rather boring and seems all-too vanilla. You know he’s going to win and look good doing it.
Luigi, on the other hand, is a scaredy-cat who pushes through supernatural adversities even if he’s knee-deep in fear. He’s the more interesting brother to root for, from his chattering teeth and knees to the way he leaps up in fright. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Luigi Mansion franchise since its debut on GameCube back in the day; a fun spin on a Mario side character attached with 2D-esque action-adventure game set in a G-rated horror setting; more Goosebumps than the Netflix’s House in Haunted Hill.
The past titles were a tad on the short and simple side, which is why part 3 here for the Switch fixes every problem from past entries. It’s a tad more invested in its setting, more challenging, and has a bigger landscape to explore its ghostbusting scenarios with.
The story starts with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and three coloured Toads winning a staycation in a very pristine hotel owned by one Hellen Gravely. In case you couldn’t tell by Nintendo’s clever use of the “h” word, she’s bad news as her army of ghosts kidnaps and traps the crew in portraits once nightfall hits. Everyone except Luigi, the one who conveniently is scared of ghosts even though he’s done this two previous times (three if you count the arcade shooter back in 2015).
Armed with a Poltergust ghostbusting tool, a flashlight, and a few other tools, you basically Die Hard your way up to the many floors of the hotel to rescue your pals and busts a ton of ghosts great and small. Since the higher floors are inaccessible without the appropriate lift key, you’ll have to search and fight off ghosts who are barring your progress.
Luigi here isn’t as jump-savvy like in his previous non-Mansion adventures, but the action here is more methodical and medium-paced. You can still use your flashlight to stun ghosts & spirits like in the last game, but now you can repeatedly press A to bodyslam them multiple times before they get sucked into your Poltergust. Some ghosts will protect themselves with shades and shields, so you need to figure out how to fight them with a combination of your tools and movement knowhow.
You’ll also need these same tools to solve the many hotel room and themed hallway puzzles to make progress. Need to move barricades? Use the plunger and attach it to the obstacle and then use the Poltergust to carry and slam it with full force. Need to find a hidden contraption to open up a pathway? Use the spectral light strobe to reveal whatever’s hidden.
Need to sort out a puzzle through a grate? That’s where Luigi’s Mansion 3’s best feature comes in: the ability to summon a green jello-like simulacrum called Gooigi.
Gooigi is impervious to everything except water. He can walk through grates and through spiked traps. He can also do everything Luigi can, which means any puzzle that requires double the power and suction can be solved with a quick right analog button tap. You can also have a pal come on in to take control of Gooigi, if you want.
Point is, Gooigi is a great addition that opens up new and fun avenues for puzzle-solving in the game’s expansive hotel setting, as well as co-op.
Speaking of settings, the new “mansion” you get to explore will take you about 10 to 15 hours. There are about 16 floors with their own themes and functions: apart from the starting basement and fancy rooms, you also get to tackle a medieval-themed area ruled by a ghost king and sort out a concert hall where a Beethoven-esque ghost fights you by possessing a piano. Yes, there are boss fights aplenty, and they’re fun were it not for the way the game forgets to tell you about certain buttons and controls.
The controls aren’t bad, but it’s pretty tough to switch between weapon types with the face button. The tutorial should have stressed that you can also use the L and R buttons to do the same thing without sacrificing your right analog stick aiming. Too bad this bit of info came in while I was close to the end of the game; it would have made my boss encounters a lot more tolerable.
Thankfully they do not wholly hinder the entire jolly and kinda creepy experience of Luigi’s Mansion 3. I was so engrossed in my 10+ hour Scooby-Doo ghost busting mystery adventure that I totally forgot about the game’s multiplayer additions.
Dubbed the Scarescraper, it’s a bunch of modes where you and three other coloured Luigis suck and blow the ghost-filled building with randomly-generated rooms. Obvious innuendoes aside, it’s pretty fun with its co-op based challenges and simple communication options (use the d-pad for max effect here). You can either choose to split up and tackle individual rooms, or converge when needed. Trust me, you’ll need to when you have one of your own Luigis caught in a trap.
There’s also a Mario Party-esque 8-player mode in the game, but trust me when I say that they’re not the real meat of the experience. It’s a harmless diversion at best.
For veterans of Luigi’s “horror” escapade, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a huge breath of fresh air thanks to its Gooigi mechanic and hotel level layout filled with innovative surprises and secrets. For newbies, you’re in for one heckuva G-rated spooky adventure that’s basically a Ghostbusters game you’ve always craved for since that one game from Activision back in 2009.
Just when you think ghostbusting in this hotel gets repetitive, along comes the next floor to surprise you. That’s the beauty of Luigi’s Mansion 3: it reels you in with its glitz and glamour like a proverbial Hotel California, then traps you when you least expect it. Unlike that hotel, this one’s guaranteed to make your stay as sublime as possible.
- Fun and inventive action-adventure game.
- Intuitive ghostbusting mechanics.
- Lovely aesthetics & slapstick humour.
- Well-designed multiplayer party modes.
- Stilted camera & controls.