When Luigi and pals – Mario, Princess Peach and a trio of Toads – are invited to a shiny, grandiose hotel, it seems like a dream holiday from the daily duties of jumping on the heads of goombas, breaking bricks and saving princesses. It probably also gives the Italian labourers a bit of time away from their chosen vocation that we never actually see them do, but who are we to judge? A bit of a break in a swish hotel! Who could say no?
While the hotel’s resplendent and opulent, it doesn’t take long for their hosts’ masks (quite literally) to slip. It’s not a luxury retreat, but a gilded cage. The invitation’s a ruse, a ploy by the villainous King Boo to trap Mario, Luigi and friends in a painting for all eternity. Luigi manages to escape the picturesque imprisonment, leading our erstwhile ghostbuster and reluctant hero to once again embark on a quest to save his friends from their canvas containment. That’s about as much of a narrative as you’re going to get from Luigi’s Mansion 3. While there’s a lack of story, it’s still is a grand, multi-storeyed adventure as Luigi goes from room-to-room and floor-to-floor in search of his trapped companions, coming across an assortment of ghost, ghouls and spectres and a dazzling array of puzzles as he ascends the terrifying tower.
Making his job a little easier is that happenstance, Luigi stumbles upon a new-and-improved ghost sucking device, the Poltergust G-00. This new improved version of his reliable spectre-sucking vacuum cleaner grants the perpetually terrified, easily startled Luigi an improved array of attacks and tricks. Joining the usual sucking and blowing is a new slam attack that lets Luigi smash several ghosts, smashing and weakening them enough to trap the spooks in the Poltergust’s vacuum bag. Of course, he’ll have to use a flashlight to stun the ghosts first. The dark light, which gives physical form to ethereal doors, chests and other items returns, bolstered now by a new suction cup shot that leaves a bit of trailing rope. Combine that with suction power, and you’re able to lift things, carry things and open things that would otherwise be inaccessible. Luigi now also has a blast move that clears enemies away from him, while also displacing select objects.
Rounding out the new abilities is the biggest addition the game, in the form of Gooigi. The unholy, amorphous gelatinous abomination looks just like our hero, but his elastic corporal features let him walk through locked gates, travel through pipes and get to areas that Luigi can’t access. Unfortunately, when Gooigi comes into contact with water he dissolves, magically transported back to his containment unit on the vacuum. When playing alone, you’re able to eject Gooigi from your Poltergust and use him, letting Luigi idle about. You’re able to switch between Luigi and Gooigi at will, and as you can imagine, this sort of interplay is the solution for many of the game’s inventive puzzles. If you like, you can also play the game in co-op, with a second player controlling as the gooey green doppelganger. He’s got a little less health, but the very same abilities otherwise. And they really are often unbelievably inventive.
As you beat ghost bosses to win elevator buttons that let you progress further up the hotel, the more expansive each themed floor becomes. While you’re initially confronted by ghost-filled regular hotel rooms, pretty soon you’re in an overgrown wilderness, finding your way up a great tree or trying to get your way out of a series of traps within a sandy, snake-riddled Egyptian pyramid. It’s worth noting that the puzzles on offer are often incredibly clever, though never to the point of being overwrought; the solution is always at hand, and that’s because – despite the increased mechanical options – there’s little in the way of real player agency, so just about every room devolves into entering, sucking up everything possible – and then using every one of the handful of tools available to you until you figure out where to go next or how to get there.
Unfortunately, that’s really all you do – sometimes to the point of tedium. As charming as the whole affair is (and it is, it’s incredible how much nuance Mario and Luigi voice actor Charles Martinet can put into the few words he speaks), I found myself switching between being mesmerised by the ingenious puzzle design and being bored of just how similar everything was.
Which probably has something to do with the mission structure.
In Luigi’s Mansion 2 (which still stands up as one of the best games on the 3DS), there was a more linear, defined mission stricture, while the original game was more open-ended. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is somewhere between those two. Each of the floors is moderately open and ripe for exploration, with each floor acting as its own unique mission. It’s just that the impetus – getting buttons for the elevator to ascend higher up the tower – isn’t enough of a motivator for me. If you’re a completionist though, you’ll find motivation in finding the game’s deviously hidden collectibles. Each floor has six hidden gems that range from obviously hidden, to stuff you’re more than likely going to need a guide to find.
Each floor also has a hidden Boo; a ghost you can find and imprison once you’ve cleared a level of its regular ghosts. Thankfully, all the cash you’re regularly hovering up has a purpose. From an in-game store, you can buy chips that help you locate hidden gems and obfuscated boos. There’s also a golden bone that’ll have your phantasmal canine friend, Polterpup, revive you should you succumb to the rascally revenants. While you likely won’t need that sort of help through most of the game, some of the bosses can be tricky, especially those have you switching between Luigi and Gooigi.
There’s an expanded multiplayer suite, taking the general idea behind the second game’s Scarescraper and increasing the player count to eight. You can only play two players per system though, so you’ll either need to hop online (which I’ve yet to test) or play with four local systems as you race the clock to vanquish rooms of ghosts. A new addition riffs on Mario Party a little, with a trio of team-based mini-games in ScreamPark. As is often the case with superfluous modes like this, I found them to be a fun diversion, but not the sort of thing I’d go out of my way to play.
Last Updated: October 28, 2019