A mostly-charming affair that gets tripped up by muddy controls.
Reviewer’s Note: As a bit of background, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is my first entry in the series so I am unable to draw comparisons to the other games in the series.
In Luigi’s Mansion 3, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and a few Toads find themselves vacationing at the Last Resort: a 15-story hotel with extravagantly-themed floors. As this is a game where Luigi will spend many hours sucking up ghosts in his Poltergust vacuum, it’s safe to say that there’s a bit of mischief lurking beneath the Last Resort’s gleaming facade and Luigi’s friends are quickly trapped by the hotel owner Hellen Gravely and King Boo. In order to free his friends, Luigi first manages to find and free his ally Professor E. Gadd, who promptly sets up a base of operations in the hotel’s basement. Throughout the adventure, he’ll provide upgrades to the Poltergust and call Luigi with the occasional tip over the Virtual Boo, a headset with a red interface eerily similar to that of Nintendo’s mid-90’s foray into virtual reality.
Just about every floor of the Last Resort plays out as a self-contained level. Luigi arrives on the floor and is pretty quickly introduced to the theme of that floor. Why this hotel has floors that serve as a movie studio, Egyptian desert, or pirate cove (complete with a massive indoor “ocean”) is beyond me but it allows for a variety of aesthetics and keeps the game feeling fresh as each new hour is going to bring with it a new adventure. Once the floor’s theme is established, Luigi sets off defeating the various ghosts holed up on that level as he moves from room to room en route to that floor’s Boss Ghost. Defeating the boss earns Luigi an elevator button that, once reinstalled, gets him access to the next floor and the cycle begins again.
Combat is fairly simple, with the Poltergust focusing on a few primary attacks. In order to prepare the ghosts for capture, Luigi must first use the Strobulb to stun them. This flash of light will make otherwise translucent phantoms temporarily opaque, which allows Luigi to suck them into the Poltergust, where he can draw down their health or slam them around to do more damage and maybe even stun other nearby ghosts. In addition to drawing in ghosts, the vacuum’s core sucking functionality is handy for drawing in money scattered around the hotel, rotating switches, yanking drapes off the walls to reveal hidden secrets, and grabbing the occasional object to use as a projectile. The projectiles can be launched via the blow attack, which can also push objects away. The Suction Shot will launch a plunger and string that can attach to a flat surface and utilized to yank objects around, while a Dark-Light can reveal hidden secrets.
Rounding out the arsenal is Gooigi, an ectoplasmic doppelganger that Luigi can call upon and control. Gooigi can fit through bars or drains that Luigi’s pesky flesh can’t maneuver through, while also maintaining the same functionality of Luigi. Gooigi will dissolve at the slightest whiff of water but can quickly be redeployed if need be. A solo player can swap between the two at will, while co-op partners can control the two simultaneously, working together to solve the resort’s puzzles and face off against the various enemies.
For completionists, each floor contains a hidden Boo and six themed gems to find. The gems will typically be locked behind a puzzle while the Boo will be hidden within one of the rooms on the floor possessing a random object. Identify the right object with the help of the Joy-Con rumble feature and you can fight and capture the Boo. Choose incorrectly and it will move to a different room on the floor where Luigi can try again. Intrepid players can seek these bonus items out on their own or they can buy hints from E. Gadd for 1000 coin each. The hints will reveal a gem or Boo icon on the game’s map to narrow down the room where the hidden treasure can be found.
While the central loop of solving puzzles, sucking up everything not bolted down, and defeating ghosts is enjoyable, Luigi’s Mansion suffers from imprecise targeting and occasionally painfully slow controls. Lethargically moving Luigi with the left thumbstick while aiming the Poltergust with the right often leads to aggravating depth perception issues, especially when trying to aim the suction plunger or launch a projectile at a moving target. Both attacks will provide a very loose window where the targeting reticle will snap to the desired objective but, especially when playing on the smaller handheld screen, it is far too easy to blow right past this barely-there lock on.
The final boss also left a horrible taste in my mouth as the final memory of the game. As with most bosses in the game, it employs a variety of randomized attacks. But Luigi can only retaliate during one of these attacks and the final phase adds a time limit to boot. In one attempt, the random order of attacks only gave me two chances to fight back within the time allotted. The control issues detailed above, the random nature of this final fight, and the completely arbitrary time limit all combined to make my final moments with Luigi’s Mansion 3 a curse-filled, rage-induced mess.
There are a lot of good ideas in Luigi’s Mansion that suffer under the weight of less than stellar controls. The variety of floor themes and boss designs in the Last Resort means the adventure managed to feel fresh throughout my 22 hours with the game but I was often frustrated when I knew exactly what the game wanted me to do but I couldn’t get Luigi to do what I wanted him to do.
7.5 / 10
That Good Game
- Great level design
- Battling the ghosts is fun
- Gooigi memes
- Sluggish and imprecise controls
- Aggravating final boss design
That Nerdy Site’s Review Scoring rubric can be found here.