Luigi’s Mansion 3 Review: Finally Sprinting
I discuss my issues with Luigi’s Mansion 2 throughout this Luigi’s Mansion 3 review. Read my review of the last game here for the full picture.
It’s fair to say I had some issues with the last Luigi’s Mansion game. Issues with clunky controls, infuriating bosses and an obscene amount of padding. At the end of my review I speculated that the design choices in Luigi’s Mansion 3 would address everything that I thought hindered the game.
And now, I am happy to announce that Luigi’s Mansion 3 goes above and beyond what I could have ever asked for by improving combat, boss battles, exploration puzzles and removing most of the excess padding. The positive changes incorporated into the game’s core mechanics not only make this one of the best titles currently available on the Nintendo Switch, but one of the best released this console generation. Well, almost.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Review
- Developer: Next Level Games
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Available: Nintendo Switch/Lite
- Played on: Nintendo Switch (Mainly Handheld)
Light-hearted tone, Creativity and Charm
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a PG-friendly version of the superb Indonesian action film, The Raid: Redemption. Like in the Raid, you must fight your way through floor after floor of lethal enemies (ghosts) in order to ascend the apartment block (hotel) to take down the insidious drug lord (head of the ghosts) at the very top of the building.
It’s a brilliantly bizarre set-up. A hotel run by ghosts, used as a façade to lure Luigi, Mario and friends to their unknowing spooky demise. And throughout the game, the developers continually play on this light hearted tone. For example each hotel floor has a unique theme. Early on these take realistic form like the Concert Hall, VIP (or rather RIP) Suites and the Shopping Area. Then out of nowhere you find yourself solving life or death puzzles in a full sized pyramid on the ancient Egyptian floor. For a game that starts of grounded, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not your typical hotel.
While each floor is visually stunning, they also ooze with charm by injecting its ghostly inhabitants with humanistic personalities. It was hard not to smile when walking in on ghosts doing bench presses at the Fitness Centre, witnessing two ghosts in the coffee bar getting their daily caffeine fix or when battling a troop of breakdancing ghosts in the Hotel’s 80’s themed Nightclub.
But even as every proceeding floor became more and more absurd, I never felt my immersion shatter. The Magician floor (which contains chattering toy-teeth like you’re exploring Arkham Asylum), wouldn’t feel out of place in a theme park hotel. And I could imagine the ancient Egyptian floor existing in an over the top Las Vegas Casino. For me, it remained within the realms of reality while allowing the developers to push each theme to interesting and creative heights. Luigi’s Mansion 3 joins the ranks with Detective Pikachu as one of the most charming and enjoyable games I’ve played this year.
In Luigi’s Mansion 2 it felt like I’d seen all of the exploration puzzles about two thirds of the way through. Here though, venturing out onto a newly unlocked floor always felt fresh due to new puzzles to solve, new ghost encounters and brand new mechanics. I even noticed this on the final floor with the addition of hidden laser trip wires adding some spy-like suspense.
The inclusion of Gooigi also helps in this regard by creating engaging asymmetrical puzzles. Gooigi can access areas Luigi’s can’t because, well, he’s made out of goo. He can slip through pipes, through fences and help out with a bit of elbow grease to shift some seriously heavy objects. On a couple of occasions Gooigi takes centre stage as you scramble to rescue Luigi from, for example, a room with wall spikes creeping closer and closer inwards. This lead to surprisingly tense moments as I raced against time to save everybody’s favourite cowardly plumber.
On every new floor the game feels fresh, but unfortunately Next Level Games slip back into their old ways and provide us with pointless padding. The polterpup ghost dog, who continued to steal key items from you in Luigi’s Mansion 2 is now Luigi’s ally. So, that means there is no way anymore items can get stolen, right?
Wrong, as a polterkitty ghost cat now takes his place. Like in the past, you are forced to chase her around the area you’ve literally just explored and secure the item. This is recycling content in the worst sense and it should have been left out of what is otherwise a brilliant game.
Combat in Luigi’s Mansion 3 has drastically improved due to the addition of a slam ability. Slam feels great as you hoof the ghost over your head and watch them hit the solid ground below. Any ghost caught in the crossfire is instantly stunned allowing you to chain moves together like you’re combo juggling in Street Fighter. The combat reaches even greater heights when slamming a ghost into a piece of furniture, like a table or chair. The physics engine makes every furniture break look exceptional, making it feel like you’re taking part in a supernatural WWE match.
Extra moves and mechanics also make encounters more dynamic. The new jet boost hoists Luigi into the air and stuns nearby ghosts, a fireable plunger can remove an item a ghost is using as a shield and mini ghosts can be stunned and sucked up instantly. All of these mechanics are mixed and matched to provide a true test of your ghost busting skill. One fight in particular puts you against ballerina ghosts in the Concert Hall. You have to be extra careful as you dodge their incoming, expertly executed, pirouettes. It is utterly unique and again, oozes with charm and creativity.
Non-Infuriating Bosses (Mostly)
At the end of every hotel floor there is a similarly themed boss fight, like a swim coach ghost in the Fitness Centre. While the creativity and variety of each boss is shown visually, it also extends to the actual encounter with multiple inventive phases. As a whole there’s generally less waiting around to attack.
I appreciated this on many occasions, but the conclusion to the ancient Egyptian floor was the games true high point. Not only was it extremely frantic trying to multi-task dodging and attacking, but it was extremely tense, especially when I was one hit away from failure on the final phase.
While most of these encounters are superior to what came before, there are a handful of bosses where the game returns to infuriating form. The worst offendor was the medieval boss, where I almost put the game down for good. He gallops around the arena as you stand there and wait. Eventually he tries to joust you, which if dodged, opens him up to take damage. The problem is, in the final phase this attack window is reduced to a mere morsel. If you miss your chance, he gallops around the arena as you stand there waiting for another attempt. Thankfully, the great bosses significantly outweigh the infuriating ones.
Even though I enjoyed my time with Luigi’s Mansion 3, I can’t help but feel there are some major missed opportunities. One of the strongest aspects of the game are its exploration puzzles, but the problem is, their rewards are completely pointless. (Except from a completionism point of view). For example, treasure can be spent in-game, but only on filler items like the location of more collectibles. For comparison, this would be the equivalent of the Shrines in Breath of the Wild rewarding you with nothing but the location of another Shrine.
These types of rewards in any game must benefit the player long term to make exploration worthwhile. Again, the Shrines in Breath of the Wild create puzzles similar to Luigi’s Mansion 3, but they go one step further by providing permanent upgrades to Link’s health or stamina. These long lasting rewards were even present in Luigi’s Mansion 2 where treasure unlocked upgrades for the Strobulb, Poltergust and Dark Light.
It’s a shame these ideas weren’t developed further and the wealth of creativity available at the hands of the developers was thrown by the wayside. As it stands, a large part of the game is arguably pointless. At times it felt like I was going to work, but I wasn’t getting paid.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Review – Final Thoughts
Luigi’s Mansion 3 achieves greatness, even when held back by a few minor issues. While the excess padding and woeful bosses have been significantly stripped back, there are still a handful of occasions where the developers slip back into their old ways and pull the game down with them.
But even when considering the games flaws, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is still one of the most enjoyable games currently available on the Switch. The sheer amount of creativity, charm and variety sprinkled over fifteen floors will keep you smiling until the very last second.
Exploring these floors was mesmerisingly immersive as I became enveloped in each of the wacky themes and grounded locations. And the improved combat, new ghost encounters and exploration puzzles stopped the game from turning stale by keeping the pace at a constant rate. As we come to the end of Luigi’s Mansion’s third iteration, it felt as if the series is finally sprinting. Sprinting past what came before and leaving all of my infuriating memories behind with it.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Review – Twin Sticks Gaming Blog
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