Cutting-edge cartoon animation and satisfying linear gameplay makes Luigi’s Mansion 3 an absolute treat for Nintendo Switch owners despite its gameplay blunders.
It’s unfair to peg Luigi as the wimp of the Mario family. While it’s clear that the lanky green plumber is nowhere near as courageous as his red-dungarees-wearing sibling, Luigi is constantly pushing above and beyond to save his friends.
Traveling to a hotel in the countryside for a small vacation, Luigi and his trusty ghost-dog Polterpup were probably expecting a relatively scare-free break. Unfortunately for the gang, consisting of Mario, Peach and three Toads, that’s not the case. King Boo is back, Luigi’s friends have been captured and its up to the plumber-in-green to rescue them.
It’s no surprise that Luigi is terrified. As soon as things get appropriately spooky, the Mario brother is constantly jumping, screaming, shivering and shaking. Opening a wardrobe and getting jumped by a jack-in-the-box will result in a lovingly animated cartoon jump in the air, all limbs stretched into a star.
Luigi’s frightened persona is a constant throughout Luigi’s Mansion 3. While not many of the game’s ghoulish encounters are actually frightening – outside of a tendency to make you jump from time to time – Luigi is far from a fan of the night’s activities. To us, the player, these events are genuinely funny, to Luigi, well, he’s scared half to death.
But despite this being the third entry in Luigi’s very own series, nearly every situation here is enjoyable and those that miss the mark end up being at the very least funny. While a certain sewer-bound level is by far the game’s worst section, it’s at least helped by the hilarious sight of setting Luigi rolling through the grimy tunnels in a bright yellow rubber-ring.
Instead of the Metroidvania appeal of Luigi’s original GameCube outing, this third entry is far more streamlined. Moving through the different floors of the haunted hotel pushes the player into a simplistic but satisfying gameplay loop of almost constant satisfaction. You’ll enter a floor, make your way to the boss event by completing puzzles and sucking-and-slammin’ ghosties along the way, fight the boss and get the next button for a new floor.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 barely moves outside of this gameplay structure. There’s the occasional mini-boss to mix things up, but never something truly inventive. It’s structurally sound and unadventurous: if you wanted something unique and inventive in a mechanical or structural sense then Luigi’s newest outing will appear as quaint as most other pure video game experiences.
However, despite its loops providing little evolvement over the course of its running time – you’ll either suck something up, shine your flashlight, use a plunger or your jelly-clone Gooigi to solve every puzzle – everything has been designed around that.
For example: every floor within the haunted hotel at first appears basic in its architectural makeup, but the years have caused the hotel to fall into disrepair once you look around it’s many gorgeous additions. Secrets are everywhere: holes in the walls may lead to secrets full of gold, hidden gems and more. They don’t really add anything – in-game gold is barely useful outside of purchasing trackers to catch more powerful Boo ghosts – but finding them in every nook and cranny is intensely satisfying.
By the end of your adventure, Luigi may not have grown above his cowardly personality, but that’s okay. When has the Mario cast ever gotten true character development? But it’s impossible to not have enjoyed your time with Luigi. Every boss is enjoyable: from directing a Kaiju film with a ghost director to fighting an evil gardener, it’s a constant spectacle. You’ll save the day and you’ll have fun doing it. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is an absolute treat, even if it’s fairly basic.