Review: Luigi's Mansion 3
Posted 28 Oct 2019 at 15:00 by Dean Anderson
Hot off the heels of the brand new 3DS title, Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi’s Mansion 3 comes at us wit… wait, hang on? What do you mean that Luigi’s Mansion actually came out 18 years ago!? The 3DS game was a remake!? What’s going on here!?
You see… Luigi’s Mansion 3 is actually not just a sequel to Luigi’s Mansion 2… but is also a sequel to the 3DS remake of Luigi’s Mansion specifically! Confused? Don’t worry, it’ll make sense as we go on…
Even Luigi is baffled by the Luigi's Mansion timeline.
When Luigi’s Mansion first came out on the Gamecube back in 2001, reviewers by and large were not kind to it for its brevity. Starting as a tech demo of sorts for Nintendo’s shiny new purple lunchbox, Luigi’s Mansion was this strange, experimental take on the survival horror genre. Armed with naught but a flashlight and a vacuum cleaner, Luigi took on the ghostly trappings of a spooky mansion. It was structurally actually quite similar to games like those seen in the Resident Evil series, with a big interconnected mansion that Luigi would travel through seamlessly; showing off the power of the Gamecube and its super-fast mini DVD discs. But while reviewers looked upon the game generally favourably, they were quick to lambast it for its short length and its odd gameplay; especially in light of the absence of a Super Mario 64 successor at launch; the Gamecube being the first ever Nintendo console to not feature a launch title starring Big Red.
Time was kind to Luigi’s Mansion however and it eventually gained a cult following amongst gaming enthusiasts for its charming characters & visuals, its memorable music, its fun ghostbusting gameplay and its interconnected, almost Metroidvania-like level design.
Fast forward to 2013 and Nintendo finally followed up on the, now cult classic, Gamecube title with Luigi’s Mansion 2. Now handled by Canadian studio Next Level Games, who cut their teeth on the Super Mario Strikers games and Punchout!! for the Wii, critics lauded it for expanding on the original game and its length. Now you have multiple mansions to explore! Each with wildly different gameplay gimmicks and visual variety to match! With a new mission-based structure that greatly extended the game’s running time and arguably befit the handheld format much better than the original game would have. Alongside a ton of new gameplay gimmicks, a really fun multiplayer mode, and the excellent animation and characterisation you have come to expect from Next Level Games; there was a lot to like about Luigi’s Mansion 2. However, a large contingent of the fanbase ended up expressing disillusion; many were not happy with the change in structure, pining for a return to the singular, interconnected setting that they loved from the original Gamecube title. Nor were they happy to see the loss of the puzzle heavy Portrait Ghosts, or the lack of enchanting bosses that defined Nintendo EAD’s work.
These feelings would come to a head when Nintendo surprised the world with the announcement of a remake of the original Luigi’s Mansion for not the Nintendo Switch, but rather the Nintendo 3DS! Now with an added 2 player co-op mode in the form of a jelly-ladled sidekick called Gooigi and a host of visual upgrades, fans expressed outrage at the audacity of Nintendo for daring to release it for the Nintendo 3DS, two years after the Nintendo Switch had already succeeded the platform. It turns out though, that there was more to that remake than met the eye, because Luigi’s Mansion 3 is actually a perfect marriage of both games.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 marks a return to the single, interconnected setting that defined the Gamecube original, in the form of a giant spooky hotel. This was an inspired choice, as it allowed the designers at Next Level Games to combine the Metroidvania structure of the first game with the wildly varying and creative settings that people loved about the second game; and fans of either game will not be disappointed with what Luigi’s Mansion 3 offers in both regards.
Hotel Mario has nothing on this!
The hotel is huge and offers an interesting mixture of both linear and non-linear areas to explore. While some floors are more open and require players to explore to find out where to go, other floors are more straightforward lines to the end, with surprises and secrets along the way. Both forms of design complement each other really well here, and offer copious amounts of gameplay variety all throughout its running time; no two floors ever feel quite alike!
Luigi’s Mansion 3 delights with its level design. Every single room is meticulously crafted and jammed with secrets to find, money to pinch, ghosts to bust and puzzles to solve. In an age where open world games and procedurally generated content rule the world, this game is an enormous breath of fresh air as it flawlessly makes its case for handcrafted level design. The puzzle design is just superb, and will have you scratching your head as you use your noggin to figure out how to get through each room, or capture a specific ghost…
Oh, did I not mention? Portrait Ghosts are back from the first game! And they’re absolutely sensational! Luigi’s Mansion 3’s boss design is just utterly terrific, and will remind you of that fantastic boss design that comes from the best of the classic Metroid and The Legend of Zelda titles. Each boss is a puzzle in of itself that must be solved before it can be beaten in that classic Nintendo fashion. Likewise, the enemy ghosts, the environmental puzzles and everything surrounding the core gameplay just ebbs and flows perfectly, with new & creative ideas constantly thrown at you all throughout its running time. The game has a sense of flow and rhythm that never lets up, with an unending focus on providing fun through handcrafted design; something that arguably has been lost from modern gaming as a whole.
But of course, Luigi’s Mansion 3 must have a core gimmick of its own; and of course it does… as Gooigi transports from the 3DS remake of Luigi’s Mansion to this Switch outing. However, Gooigi is much more fundamental to the core gameplay than he ever was in the 3DS remake; as all of the environmental puzzles, combat and exploration gameplay is fundamentally designed around the co-op mechanic. With a click of the right stick at any time, Luigi can summon his gooey counterpart to assist him with solving puzzles or fending off foes; and, much like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Gooigi can be controlled by either a single player swapping between characters, or by a buddy. The amount of mileage that Next Level Games gets out of this mechanic is just sensational and never does it feel forced or ham-fisted, nor does it ever feel like it outstays its welcome. This is far more akin to The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures than Resident Evil 5.
Gooigi is the real star of the show here.
Flanked by the excellent level design and core gameplay is that trademark visual flair that Next Level Games is known for. The cutscenes are just great, Luigi and co feel like they were pulled out of a Pixar flick and simply feel alive; the ridiculous animations are fantastic and will make you laugh all throughout. They effortlessly captured the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon and somehow married it with stunning lighting effects and big budget CG-like visuals that just jump out of the screen. This is the most bootiful game on Switch by a long-shot and it runs utterly flawlessly all throughout (be it Docked or Handheld mode), something that will no doubt please those who have been disappointed by some poor performing games that have released on Switch throughout the past year. It’s so good looking that I thought I had accidentally downloaded a Switch Pro!
Equally as impressive is the sound design. This game has the best surround sound mix out of any Switch game and its not even close; you can even hear the reverberations of footsteps travel from front to back speaker for goodness’ sake! Sadly the music composition isn’t quite on par with the stellar sound design and sound mixing, as the music isn’t quite as memorable as the first two games. It’s not bad by any means, but you probably won’t find yourself humming many of the new tunes like Luigi wants to. Still, those with a pre-requisite 5.1 surround sound setup (or even a good set of headphones in handheld mode) are in for an audible feast!
The multiplayer mode will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Luigi’s Mansion 2; with the Scarescraper mode being a logical evolution of the one from the 3DS title. The setup is much the same as before, only with additional gameplay gimmicks, enemies and features that stem from the main story mode of Luigi’s Mansion 3. Oh and it can be played with 8 people now with four Gooigis in tow, be it through online or local wireless; so you know, that’s nice!
Purple Luigi pulls off his best Waluigi impression by trying to cheat.
And just like before, the Scarescraper mode is a ton of fun. It becomes very frantic & hectic very quickly as you race to capture enough ghosts/money/Toads within the time limit. Thankfully, this time around, the game supports full voice chat through the Nintendo Switch Online app, and online performance was flawless during testing; be it in handheld or docked, no matter how many players were playing. It’s oddly compelling as you race through each procedurally generated floor, though some players might be put off by the high difficulty here as Next Level Games decided to make the time limits very strict this time around!
An additional set of three minigames is also on offer, in the new Scarepark mode. These are single-screen multiplayer games for up to 8 local players (no online play here) on one Switch console and play out much like a good quality Mario Party minigame. It’s not the main attraction, even as far as multiplayer goes, but me and my buddies had a good laugh with them; and they’re a nice addition to the package for those looking for a quick bout of simple & uncomplicated local multiplayer fun.
Really, the entire game feels like it comes from a different era of gaming entirely. From a time before consoles went HD, where they were complete and meticulously crafted experiences from start to finish. And as a result Luigi’s Mansion 3 simply feels… complete. Complete and uncompromising. It’s the kind of game that we have largely lost in the modern era, a classic Nintendo action-adventure that comes complete with all of the fantastic handcrafted level design, brilliant bosses, superb and perfectly polished gameplay that you could ask for. I couldn’t really ask for anything more from this game; all I ask is that Nintendo look to this game for inspiration and consider what it could mean for their future titles. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the best game Nintendo has released in a long, long time and it is easily the best title that you can buy on Nintendo Switch. Go play it and rediscover the joy of a truly handcrafted action adventure!
N-Europe Final Verdict
An utterly essential action adventure title that will delight fans of both Luigi’s Mansion 1 & 2, as well as anyone pining for a high-quality action adventure title like what we used to get back in the good ‘ol days. A perfect manifesto for why handcrafted game design is so beloved and why we need games like this now more than ever.
Masterful level and puzzle design that effortlessly marries the design language of the first and second Luigi’s Mansion games together.
Excellent pacing, with the game constantly throwing new ideas and concepts at you that never outstay their welcome. A flawless, handcrafted gameplay experience from start to finish.
Multiplayer is a blast and will have you and your buddies constantly coming back for more.
The best looking game on Switch, with flawless performance to match. Sound design is also utterly sensational.
The multiplayer Scarescraper mode might actually be too difficult for some players.
Not much of the new music is all that memorable.