Game Review - 'Luigi's Mansion 3'

by Em E. Lee 11 months ago in nintendo

It's everything you'd ask for in a ‘Luigi's Mansion’ game—charm, personality, and fun action gameplay, but cranked up to 11 for an incredible experience that was well worth the wait.

Game Review - 'Luigi's Mansion 3'
Screenshot of Luigi and the Polterpup in a garage; image and characters belong to Nintendo and Next Level Games.

I love everything about the Luigi's Mansion series. I've been a fan ever since my introduction with Dark Moon on the 3DS. I finally got the chance to play the original when the handheld remake came out last year, but even before then, thanks to countless online walkthroughs and trivia sites, I was hook-line-sinker for anything even remotely related to it.

Can you blame me, though? They're such a departure from the core Mario games, being an exploration-centric adventure inspired by, of all things, survival horror, with Mario's oft-underestimated younger brother in the lead role instead. This allows for the best elements of the games, elements that I think Nintendo would hardly even think of using with Mario; the puzzle solving, ghostbusting, creative design, charm, personality, and touching character moments are what really make this series.

As you can imagine, I was over the moon when the long-awaited third installment was first announced last September—even more so when the game finally came out on the most fitting release date ever, Halloween, and I discovered while blasting through it that it was better than anything I could have asked for.

Screenshot of a chase scene featuring Luigi and King Boo; image and characters belong to Nintendo and Next Level Games.

Where do I even begin with this one? There's so much that this game does right, especially for people who adore the other two installments.

That statement actually goes deeper than you might think at first, since the game feels like an amalgamation of what was great about the previous installments, plus the results of fixing the main issues that fans had with those past games. For one thing, the original Luigi's Mansion, while still greatly enjoyable and an absolute classic of the Gamecube era, to this day gets flack for being far shorter than the average game; I can say myself that that isn't an exaggeration, as I myself have beaten several 100 percent runs each within a single afternoon—and that's not even going into the game's lack of multiplayer and bonus content, save for the nigh-impossible Hard Mode. Dark Moon is strange because, while it is the direct sequel, it's still very different to the original; not that the changes were bad by any means, but fans were disappointed nonetheless. While I still love that game and believe that many of the changes were either necessary (the mission-based structure fits the portable 3DS far more than open-world exploration does) or still enjoyable for what they were (seriously, how can you not love the Polterpup by the end of the story?), I can definitely see why other people didn't enjoy them. This is what I mean when I say that the first two games do different things really well; they each have their own unique qualities that make them enjoyable, with drawbacks respective to each as well.

Luigi's Mansion 3 does brilliant things with those qualities of its predecessors, both the positive and the negative. It forgoes the missions of Dark Moon while keeping its extended length, and brings back the beloved exploration and puzzle-solving of the first entry while also including way more content than the previous two combined. As a huge fan of both of them, I can say that I was incredibly happy seeing those elements in this game, and executed so well too!

Official artwork of Luigi using the new Slam move on a Goob; image and characters belong to Nintendo and Next Level Games.

But while I call Luigi's Mansion 3 an amalgamation, that doesn't mean that it's less unique than its predecessors. Far, far from it. And the new compliments the old so well here that at times it feels like they were never "new" at all, that they'd always been there as part of the Luigi's Mansion experience.

It's honestly more difficult to think of a new mechanic in 3 that I didn't have fun playing around with. The Suction Shot provides a totally new method to exploring the many different areas, lending itself to plenty of interesting puzzles and boss fights. The Burst feature on the Poltergust G-00 provides Luigi with much-appreciated jumping and dodging that the first game had seriously needed. My personal favorite even before the game's release is depicted beautifully in the image above; sucking up ghosts on their own was already satisfying, but now you get to slam them into the floor to defeat them. There's nothing more satisfying to me than seeing Luigi finally wreak some well-deserved vengeance on his worst fear after all these years, and in such a visceral and brutal fashion as well!

The one mechanic I never expected to enjoy as much as I did was actually Luigi's new gelatinous sidekick, Gooigi. He made his debut not in this game but in the 3DS remake of the Gamecube classic, and he didn't make that big of an impression on me at all; if I may be frank, he felt like a half-assed attempt at including a co-op mode, with nary a unique characteristic beyond being a carbon-copy of Luigi made out of goo. Not that I was expecting the carbon-copy Player 2 to have a unique personality, let alone one who's an actual blob of goop, but I still couldn't help feeling disappointed by him. But now I realize that Gooigi's inclusion in the 3DS remake was only the teaser for his full role in this game; he's yet another puzzle-solving tool that Luigi can use to get through otherwise impassable obstacles, albeit one with a face and body. Those aspects of him make Gooigi a treat in cut-scenes and the co-op this time as well; his personality (or lack thereof) lends itself to plenty of amusing to downright hilarious moments throughout the adventure, which I absolutely appreciated after some of the more intense moments.

(I never thought I'd be complimenting a literal puddle of goo like this, and yet here we are.)

In this sense, you could say that Luigi's Mansion 3 is very much Luigi's Mario Odyssey, in that it feels like almost every second of the game was designed around giving the player a reason to smile. And really, what more could you ask for in a video game?

Screenshot of Luigi and Gooigi in a bathroom setting; image and characters belong to Nintendo and Next Level Games.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Luigi's Mansion game (or even a game starring Luigi at all) without plenty of charm, personality, and sweet, sweet character. Luigi himself is the most expressive he's ever been, especially during story cutscenes where his facial expressions and even his subtlest mannerisms are rendered in some of the most beautiful animation I've seen in any Mario series game yet.

But I could seriously talk forever about the animation here, and I don't want to drag this review on just talking about that. Instead, I'll gush about how well the game presents characters in general.

This game is a perfect example of why I find Mario and company to be such fascinating and lovable characters. Sure, they might not have deep, multi-layered story arcs, but that doesn't make them any less memorable. Luigi's interactions with all of his friends are just as charming and adorable as one would expect, especially with the Polterpup he'd adopted back in Dark Moon. I'm a huge sucker for anything character-related like this in any Mario property, and if you're a fan too, then you'll be happy to know that Luigi's Mansion 3 is chock full of it.

Even the minor, one-off characters and enemies have their moments to make a mark on the player. The bosses are especially memorable characters, which is another beloved aspect of the original that I was thrilled to see return here; what's even better is the variety of personality among the bosses as well, including one who actually seems bored at the idea of fighting you, which got more than a little bit of a laugh out of me the first time I saw it. They're all incredibly creative, and will absolutely make you want to replay the main story for years just to experience them all over again.

North American box-art preview; image and characters belong to Nintendo and Next Level Games.

There isn't enough time in the world for me to talk about everything I love about this game. I haven't even gone into the nonlinear level design, the immersive atmosphere, the insanely fun ScarePark and Scarescraper modes, the moments where the game used legitimate horror techniques and successfully spooked me. Needless to say, there's a LOT to love about Luigi's Mansion 3. The only things I can really say I was a bit disappointed with were the non-boss ghosts; they felt incredibly unremarkable compared to the rest of the game, with most of them playing out like many of the ghosts in Dark Moon, just with a different coat of paint. Their official names aren't all that creative either—the worst being the "Hammer" ghost, which is basically Dark Moon's Slammer with its two front letters swapped out and a square body instead of round. I wasn't a fan of that, nor was I a fan of one very specific section that dragged on for a bit too long, with a mechanic that, while I respected its ingenuity, made the experience tedious enough to make me actually want to take a break from playing.

But would I call those deal-breakers? Absolutely NOT. The good absolutely outweighs every bad here. This game provides the quintessential Luigi's Mansion experience, jam-packed with the type of content I've been waiting for for years now. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor: Clear out your calendar to spend some quality time with Luigi's Mansion 3. I cannot recommend this game enough, and it absolutely deserves every ounce of praise it can get.

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Em E. Lee
Em E. Lee
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Em E. Lee

Writer-of-all-trades and self-appointed "professional" nerd with an infinite supply of story ideas and not nearly enough time to write them down. Lover of all media, especially fiction and literature. Proud advocate of the short story.

See all posts by Em E. Lee