I first played Luigi's Mansion on the GameCube at the tender age of nine. Back then, I actually found it pretty scary – a fact I can't help but find amusing as I sit down to try out a new level in Luigi's Mansion 3 all these years later. It's made all the more humorous because this time around, instead of cowering away – much like our dear Luigi does whenever a ghostly apparition appears – I am smiling from ear to ear the entire time. Luigi's Mansion 3 is a pure delight. With wonderfully expressive animations, satisfying mechanics, and creative puzzles, the only scary thing about our upcoming reunion with Luigi and his trusty Poltergust is how much time we'll happily let it vacuum out of our lives without us even realising it.
Luigi's Mansion 3 isn't quite set in a mansion this time. Instead, our favourite green plumber finds himself on a nightmarish holiday in the aptly named Last Resort Hotel, which is made up of a series of floors that act as different levels. Luigi is back with his Poltergust vacuum, but he also has some other tools and moves to use in the haunted hotel - such as firing a plunger to perform a suction shot that helps you move objects, using Burst with your torch to stun ghosts, and performing the Slam move to take out any ghastly fiends. Oh, and of course there's Gooigi, Luigi's gloopy green doppelgänger who can help our plumber ghost guster (get it? Because Poltergust… okay, I'll stop) overcome obstacles and take out some particularly pesky phantoms. Each floor has a different theme, and during E3 2019 our very own editor Sam Loveridge check out the first floor. This time around, I got to get some hands-on time with the 7th level in the game known as the garden Floor.
As the name gives away, every room on the Garden floor is covered in all of the things you might expect to find in a garden. From leafy foliage, to watermelons and thorns, there are plenty of obstacles and hidden secrets to find, and it's up to you to use Luigi's gear to progress through each room. When you first arrive on the floor, you're greeted by a ghostly gardener with a watering can who's clearly not too pleased about your stay in the hotel. His watering can has the power to make a whole tree sprout from the ground, and he's clearly set on watering his way to blocking your path as best he can.
In the first room, there are closed flower buds that will blossom when you use your Burst move, which shines a ray of light from Luigi's torch. After a lot of fumbling around and vacuuming, I eventually found the door hidden behind some leaves, but some ghostly visitors didn't want to let me move on just yet. These haunting attackers use the flower buds in the room to repeatedly jab them at Luigi, and you have to use a combination of moves in order to get them out of your hair. After a quick burst move to make the flowers blossom, you vacuum up the petals, stun the ghosts again with the burst move and then use your Poltergust to suck them up and perform the finishing Slam move. It takes me a spell to get used to the sequence of controls, but once I get to grips with it, I feel like a bonafide apparition repeller.
Even though the rooms aren't massive in scale, they're bursting with creativity and clever designs. There are so many little hidden quirks throughout each room, that it's easy to spend more time than you probably need to experimenting with your Poltergust to inspect every inch to ensure you don't miss any tricks. Whenever you do find something unexpected in the room – like a hidden treasure chest or a pile of coins – it feels very rewarding, like getting a good payoff for trying to be inventive and investing your time in exploration.
Gooey helping hand
In the Last Resort Hotel, you'll sometimes find yourself stumbling upon an obstacle you can't get past as Luigi. Enter Gooigi. Yes, you're able to play the adventure in co-op with a pal who can take on the role of your doppelgänger. But have no fear if you want to play solo, because you can switch up roles by yourself to get past these obstacles, too. As Gooigi is made of, well, goo, he's able to slip through tight spots such as grates and drains. Inside a bathroom, I use my vacuum to suck up all the leaves in the bathtub, but I can't quite get to the shiny gem that's hidden underneath. Using a grate on the ground, Gooigi is able to slide down it and shoot up through a pipe to get into the bathtub and retrieve it.
Your doppelgänger also offers you some gooey backup when you're facing enemy ghosts. If you have a buddy with you, you're able to perform slam moves in unison to really give those ghosties a good walloping, and it is oh so pleasing to execute. Playing in co-op adds a really fun element of teamwork into the mix, but the addition of Gooigi overall also keeps things interesting when it comes to solving puzzles and getting through blocked paths.
Now, I have to talk about the saw. Yeah, that's right, a saw. In one room, you find a saw attachment that can go on the end of your vacuum, and it is endlessly satisfying to use. It is so fun, in fact, that I spend an unnecessarily long time cutting through absolutely everything in the room, because you can destroy every inch of it. I mean, how could I in good conscience resist cutting every blade of grass and slicing a sofa clean in two? Happily, after hacking everything down I uncover a chest that showers the floor with coins. See what I mean about Luigi's Mansion 3 rewarding your curiosity and experimentation?
Hauntingly beautiful animations
The first thing I noticed about Luigi's Mansion 3 was how unbelievably good it looks. The animations are spectacularly expressive, and it's impossible not be endlessly charmed by all of the little subtle details. For example, you often catch Luigi shivering in fear, or suddenly shuddering when he tricks himself into thinking he's heard a noise. Then there's the difference between Luigi's posture compared to that of Gooigi's. While our dear plumber cowers around the hotel, Gooigi looks confident and entirely nonchalant about the spookiness of it all. Basically it looks like every ghostly scenario slides right off Gooigi's back… which makes sense when you think about that slimy skin. The cutscenes look fantastic and are a complete joy to watch, especially when combined with the creative and colourful hotel floor designs.
Luigi's Mansion was never really meant to be scary, but it's certainly one of the spookier experiences from Nintendo, albeit with the developer's signature charm. My kid self would have probably viewed my time with the garden floor as an act of bravery, but as it is, it's an absolute pleasure to play, and one that I can't wait to get back to when it releases October 31, 2019.
Keen to see more? Here's 15 minutes of Luigi's Mansion 3 co-op footage.