Mario’s little bro does his best Shaggy impression as the ultra-reluctant ghost-busting hero of Luigi’s Mansion 3. But what’s it like? Is it spooktacular, or too ghoul for school?
You’d think by now that Luigi might twig that the mysterious invite he received in the mail is a bit suss, but nope. So, he and his trusty Polterpup join Mario, Peach and a trio of Toads on a bus trip to the ominously titled Last Resort. More than a mere mansion, it’s a swanky, multi-storey hotel, but it doesn’t take long for our crew to learn that it harbours a spooky secret. Actually, many spooky secrets.
It turns out that the hotel manager, one not-at-all-dodgy-sounding Hellen Gravely, is in cahoots with the biggest and baddest of the Boos in King Boo and, as is his art connoisseur wont, he quickly traps the visitors in paintings. Well, save for our hero of the tale, Luigi, who manages to make good a whimpering – but successful – escape. Ah, but what about saving the others? He very much is afraid of those ghosts, but this is family – and hey, it’s not easy being green!
For those unfamiliar with the GameCube original and 3DS sequel, Luigi’s Mansion involves our reluctant hero clearing out all manner of ghostly entities floor-by-floor via solving increasingly wild and challenging puzzles, with a bit of satisfying ghost-whomping chucked in for good measure.
The ante is upped here in several ways, however. For starters, look at that hotel – we’re talking a serious amount of levels (well, 15 or so…), most of which venture into the realm of the weird and wild – it’s like being in a microcosm of Las Vegas as you flip from desert floors to discos, shopping malls, movie studios and beyond. You can’t just lob at any floor and get busy though, as you need to retrieve lift buttons from various spectral spooks that you encounter in order to unlock them.
Then there’s good old Professor E Gadd, who helps out in the gizmo (more Gremlins later…) department. Chief amongst these is this game’s communication tool, the Virtual Boo. Not only is this a reference to Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy console (that we wish we had, because red), it also proves that the Big N can have a bit of a laugh at their own expense.
Then there’s Luigi’s ways to battle the spooks that he encounters. He’s armed with his trusty ghost-vac in the Poltergust G-00 (had enough of all the pun of the fair yet? If so, this game isn’t for you), but it’s been tricked up. It blows, it sucks, it sends shockwaves – and it can be powered up further as you progress. Ghost-busting involves sucking up a spectre tail, getting a good grip and then going the full-on whappity-whappity in a move that would have Hulk Hogan grinning from ear to ear. Well, possibly. Luigi can also fire plungers Rabbids style, then suck the ropes with his ultra-Dyson to pull bigger objects – and more – down. He also has his trusty StroBulb torch, which can temporarily blind ghosts, as well as a kind of black light doobrie. Then there’s the coolest part of it all… Gooigi!
Gooigi? Gooigi! Nothing to do with a search engine, it’s a Luigi clone made from goo – imagine a Gummy Luigi and you’re on the right track. Once discovered, it can be flipped to as the playable entity for times when you need to squeeze through bars or access other tight spots that a skin and bones Luigi just can’t manoeuvre through. Just remember the cardinal rule: do NOT get it wet! Bonus? Its presence allows co-op play.
Non-solo business can also be accomplished via two modes separate to the main story. These are ScareScraper, which offers online or local multiplayer for up to four participants, and the minigames of ScreamPark, catering for up to eight players (controllers permitting) locally.
“Generally we roll our eyes skywards when boss battles pop up nowadays, as we expect some sort of Dark Souls-ian hell to be unleashed…”
As well as a plethora of increasingly challenging and mostly interesting puzzles, rather than just a bunch of all-too-familiar schlep quests (although there are some of them), there are boss battles. Generally we roll our eyes skywards when boss battles pop up nowadays, as we expect some sort of Dark Souls-ian hell to be unleashed, however many of these are brilliantly creative and, even better, actually fun.
Collectibles also feature, but aren’t really necessary. There’s abundant currency secreted away, although there’s not much to spend it on other than buying a few helpers for other collectible quests. Still, it’s fun gathering up every morsel of the stuff if only just to play out those Scrooge McDuck fantasies we harboured as a kid.
Things aren’t all groovy ghoulies, though. The controls – where Luigi/Gooigi is on the left stick, and the Poltergust on the right – take some getting used to. Just when you think you’ve nailed it you may stumble upon a level that needs super-accurate control and realise that maybe they could have been a little less flibbertigibbety. There’s also very little in the way of useful tutorial guidance, although if you’re going all Groundhog Day at most any point, the good Professor will usually butt in and offer something in the way of a hint.
Still, these are but small niggles in the big scheme of things. This is an absolute hoot to play and an absolute joy to listen to and watch – the voice work and animation truly are spook- urgh… spectacular. With just the right amount of humour, challenge and progression desire – “OK, just one more floor…” – Luigi’s Mansion 3 is up there with some of his brother’s best escapades. Yes, bustin’ will make you feel good.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is available now for Switch.