Nintendo is wrapping up this year with hit after consecutive hit. Consumers have been treated to remarkable new IP such as Astral Chain, and well-received remakes like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. With Pokémon Sword & Shield just around the corner, along with appetizers like Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, you’d think Nintendo couldn’t possibly stuff the holiday season with any more goodies. And you’d be wrong.
Their latest Halloween release of Luigi’s Mansion 3 stands proudly as a Switch masterpiece that reaches heights previously reserved for the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild. That’s right, Luigi’s ghost-busting adventure is just that good. It’s not just a novelty.
The original Luigi’s Mansion, released in 2001 for the Gamecube, has become a cult classic in its own right with its appropriately spooky atmosphere and graphics that remain impressive to this day. It can be beaten fairly quickly, but that has only made it even more fun to revisit in short bursts throughout the years.
Its 2013 follow-up, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the 3DS, dialed down the creepy factor to nothing but increased the playtime. It, too, remains a fun experience, even if it lacks some of the original’s charm.
But Luigi’s Mansion 3 makes the previous two entries look like mere warm-ups in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, the original will always hold a special place in my heart (and I’d like to see it ported to the Switch eventually), but Luigi’s Mansion 3 is constantly firing on all cylinders. Without relying on VR or any other modern gaming gimmicks, the game delivers an experience that rivals spending a day at a real theme park. If this is any indication to go off of, the upcoming Super Nintendo World attraction at Universal Studios is going to make one heck of a splash.
Developer Next Level Games has gone above and beyond the call of duty. You can feel the game bursting with creative energy and joyous passion. A lot of love and care went into Luigi’s Mansion 3, and it shows. The amount of interactivity between Luigi and his environment is astonishing.
Speaking of the environment, there is a lot of variety among the 17 hotel floors that act as stages in the game’s single-player mode. You’ll traverse everything from lush jungles, to a Hollywood-esque film set, to a pyramid in the middle of a dessert, and many more exotic locations that are all beautifully presented with a stylish art design that’s more expressive than most Mario-related outings.
The locations aren’t the only thing that will leave an impression on you, as the characters are just as detailed. Nintendo has infused Luigi’s Mansion 3 with the animation antics of Looney Tunes and other classic cartoons. Unlike the plastic-looking models of most modern games, Luigi and the gang are brimming with personality. They’re also very funny. The comedy on display here is reminiscent of the beloved Mario & Luigi RPG series. Hopefully Illumination Entertainment is taking notes from this for their upcoming Super Mario movie.
Moving on, if you’ve played anything else from the series, this newest installment is a nice mixture between the original and its Dark Moon sequel. If you’re not familiar with the series at all, this is still a safe title to jump into. In fact, despite having the longest playtime of the series, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the easiest and most accessible game in the series. That’s not to say it doesn’t offer any challenge – it does. But it also offers a lot of items along the way to keep Luigi’s health bar full at all times. There’s even an item that will completely revive Luigi if his health bar ever reachers full depletion (which it probably won’t). Checkpoints are frequent, too. Dark Souls, this is certainly not.
Some gamers might sneer at these generous quality-of-life features, but I’m honestly fine with it. The puzzles are just the right amount of difficulty and the gameplay is varied enough to keep it from being boring. While I agree that Nintendo has recently been making their games a little too easy, I find that Luigi’s Mansion 3 benefits from letting players relax and just enjoy the experience rather than worry about having to restart from the last checkpoint.
Overall, the single-player mode in Luigi’s Mansion 3 has enough levels and gameplay mechanics to keep things feeling fresh throughout the entire story. Even better, a friend can join you for local co-op at almost any time during the story, making this a game that is truly fun for the whole family.
The multiplayer experience doesn’t end there either. There’s also two multiplayer modes: ScreamPark and ScareScraper. ScreamPark offers more couch co-op features, like three minigames that can played locally by up to eight players (Coin Floating, a coin-collecting competition/ Ghost Hunt, where you try to catch more ghosts than your opponents / Cannon Barrage, a contest to see who can break the most targets).
ScareScraper, on the other hand, can be played either locally or online. It’s a returning feature from the 3DS that sees you making your way up a set amount of hotel floors as you complete various challenges. Nintendo Online works very well here. There was no noticeable lag or framerate issues during my time with this mode; unlike Super Mario Maker 2’s online issues, Luigi’s gameplay was buttery smooth.
DLC is reportedly on the way as well, yet even without DLC there is a lot of content here. It’s nice to finally see a game that is worth every penny of its list price at launch. It’s not trying to gauge players. This is what gaming used to be like.
And for me, Luigi’s Mansion 3 captures what video games should be all about: having fun playing solo or with friends. It’s a healthy dose of escapism at its best that hearkens back to the glory days of gaming while managing to feel unique and fresh. This is absolutely a must-own title on the Switch.
The only possible drawbacks are that the controls are a little clumsy at times, which is something the series has always suffered from to some extent (mostly due to the fixed camera angle). Still, there is an option to change the control scheme to something that might better fit your play style if need be.
Also, while the soundtrack here is a great offering that sounds inspired by a Danny Elfman score to a Tim Burton film, it’s still not quite as catchy or memorable as the looping theme of the original or Dark Moon. Still, the music here does fit the more ambitious tone of the proceedings.
Nearly twenty years later, Luigi’s Mansion is still going strong with this third outing. It’s not hard to see why, there’s something very special about this concept, and I’m hoping the series will continue well into the future.
If you haven’t picked it up yet, by all means snag a copy of Luigi’s Mansion 3 as soon as humanly possible. You won’t regret it.
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