The long wait is over and Luigi’s Mansion 3 has finally arrived! Fans of the oft-forgotten Mario brother(aren’t we all?) will join in celebrating the release of Nintendo’s premier ghost-busting title. I’ve been playing the game since it released a couple days ago and was excited to share some of my initial impressions of the game.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 begins with the entire gang of Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Toad(s) traveling by bus to the Last Resort – a towering hotel complex nestled amid an idyllic green mountain valley, evoking images of the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining(which was inspired by the Stanley Hotel in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado). After arriving and being overwhelmed by the magnificent hotel and amenities(except our skeptical protagonist Luigi) and retires to their rooms for the evening. Before attempt to settle in for a luxurious night’s sleep we see Luigi’s room appearing to have almost a gold encrusted sheen from light beaming in from outside(the opening title reflects also reflects this ruse). Shortly thereafter, a loud crash awakens Luigi as he springs from his bed and not so bravely decides to investigate. Luigi finds the entirety of the hotel shrouded in darkness and fog, beginning his trek across the Last Resort to uncover the whereabouts of his friends, facing all matter of ghostly foes along the way.
I’m just under five hours into the game, but already I can tell this is going to be an enjoyable experience. I’ve sorted my early thought of the game into three categories that have impressed my the most so far….
Visuals – The very first thing that stood out to me about Luigi’s Mansion 3 was the absolutely beautiful visuals! Everything has a silky smooth polish to it, while still being able to detect various textures within the game, such as a wooden wardrobe or the fabric of Luigi’s hat. I was very impressed with the game animations right from the very beginning as the transitions from cutscene to gameplay are nearly seamless. The visuals quality looks strikingly similar to that of Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me and Minions movies…the very same studio who IS currently working on a Mario movie. The lighting effects within the game may just be the best I’ve seen in a game this year. The light emitted from Luigi’s flashlight or the glowing of a solitary desk lamp provide the lone source of illumination in a seemingly empty room, suddenly accompanied by the colorful glow of ghostly foes.
Controls – The controls for the game feel excellent and offer an evolution from the first Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube in 2001 and an improvement from Dark Moon on the 3DS. Having the second joystick to assist in your directional movement and aim was sorely missed in the 3DS sequel, which only added to what I felt was a slightly disappointing second outing. Another thing that impressed me while playing is the wonderful physics at play within the game as you notice the subtle swaying of curtains in a breeze or a dress hanging in the closest reacting to nearby movement. There’s also chairs being casually knocked on their side or the stretching of cobwebs as you devour them with your Poltergust G-00. There’s something weirdly satisfying in this game about being able to suck up bedsheets and couch cushions or a dozen or so golf balls randomly strewn across a vacant room…unless it’s just me?
Gameplay – Luigi’s Mansion 3 features the same central mechanics as the previous games as our scaredy-cat hero ventures throughout the haunted hotel in search of the elevator buttons to allow access to the corresponding floor. This time around Luigi and Professor E. Gadd have a few new additions to the repertoire; the slam attack lets Luigi fling a trapped ghost against the floor as if cracking a whip which deals greater damage to the ghost. This makes catching ghosts a bit easier than in previous games where you would simply have to hang on to the ghost as it tries to flee, the act of catching a ghost feels now like another skill at your disposal rather than seeming like the result of winning a mini-game. Another new weapon in your arsenal is the suction shot which fires a suction cup at nearby items and enemies allowing you to then grab hold with the Poltergust. The suction shot grants you access to areas and items you wouldn’t otherwise; for example, a large suitcase blocking access to a ventilation shaft can be hit by the suction shot as Luigi then grabs it with his trusty Poltergust and cast it in the opposite direction. This has already proven quite helpful if one wishes to accrue as much treasure as possible or collect every one of the many gems located on each floor. One early ghost encounter finds the specter of a housekeeping maid swallowing Professor E. Gadd’s briefcase which you were tasked to recover. The ghost then has a flat bulge protruding from its midsection making for a prime target for Luigi to attach a suction cup and crack the pilfering fiend upon the floor before being captured by the Poltergust and relinquishing the briefcase. Of course, I am unable to go without mentioning the newest star of the game series, the wonderful(coffee-flavored?) abomination of science known simply as Gooigi. A gelatinous doppelganger created by Professor E. Gadd stored in a reserve slime tank of your Poltergust. By clicking the right joystick Luigi expels this gooey ally from the Poltergust allowing you to control him in order to slip through barred doors and vents unaccessible to Luigi. You can also click the right joystick again to switch back and forth between controlling Luigi and Gooigi as some puzzles with require an extra set of hands to complete. Though Gooigi may represent another skill at your disposal, keep in mind that even the slightest drops of water will render him back to a liquid state.
In the limited hours I have spent playing the game, the variety of enemies as well as puzzles has been most enjoyable. A highlight early on in the game has been an encounter with several ghosts in the buffet area of the hotel in which the ensuing battle results to something closer to a Three Stooges-style food fight in a hurricane of baguettes, puddings, and cheese wedges. Another humorous moment of the game comes as Professor E. Gadd introduces you to his most recent communication device – the Virtual Boo. Luigi has been in contact with the professor in previous entries by using the Game Boy Horror or the Dual Scream(DS). Professor E. Gadd also comments how this newest invention will be a huge success, a self-deprecating joke about Nintendo’s biggest failure the Virtual Boy.
So far I am really loving my time with Luigi’s Mansion 3. I was rather puzzled for the longest time what exactly it was about Dark Moon that made me feel like I should enjoy the game more than I did. It may have been the fact it seemed less of one big cohesive experience as the game was broken up into different locations to investigate and each one having multiple missions to be completed or the simple fact that I’ve never been as much of a fan of playing on handheld versus home consoles where I can hold a traditional controller(as I seldom venture outside 😉 ). I already have no doubt the game will end the year as one of my favorite games of 2019. The gameplay and presentation(up to this point) have been top-notch, with the tone and humor of the game being what we’ve come to expect from a core Nintendo franchise, but the spooky ghosts and haunted house setting of Luigi’s Mansion 3 it plays along the lines of an Abbot & Costello movie, which I am more than fine with…
Have you played any Luigi’s Mansion games? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!