During the opening cinematic of Luigi's Mansion 3, Luigi looks up at the glistening Last Resort hotel where the latest ghostly adventure takes place and says "wowee zowee." From the moment I hear that phrase, a smile spreads across my face, and it rarely leaves me as I navigate my way through Nintendo's spooky fest – and that speaks volumes about just how charming and enjoyable Luigi's Mansion 3 really is.
Fast facts: Luigi's Mansion 3
Release date: October 31, 2019
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer / Publisher: Nintendo
Of course, the aptly named Last Resort Hotel isn't as it first appears. If you've ever read about a hotel on TripAdvisor that sounded too good to be true, and it turned out to be a real horror show, chances are you're going to sympathise with poor Luigi. After receiving an invite from the hotel owner Hellen Gravely, Luigi, Mario, Peach, and the three Toads make their way to the vacation spot. You begin by taking a little tour around the lobby with the adorable Polterpup at your side, but you already get the feeling that everything's just a bit too nice. With decadent cakes adorning the tables, piles of presents on the floor, and balloons festooned about the place, anyone would think you're in for the best holiday of your life.
After checking into the room and settling in for the night, Luigi is awoken by a familiar scream coming from a nearby room. The shiny exterior evaporates into ominous purple smoke, and with nothing but a torch in hand, the poor green plumber's nightmare truly begins.
Lifting up your spirits
King Boo is once again the orchestrator of Luigi's latest nightmare thanks to Hellen Gravely, who released the spectral ruler back into the world. Yep, that's right. Your holiday invitation turned out to be a trap all along. As the main antagonist, the king of Boos has trapped Mario, Peach and the three Toads inside picture frames, and Luigi is the next target. After you make your escape, you set out as the moustached plumber to rescue everyone and check out of the nightmarish hotel for good.
The Last Resort is made up of 15 floors and every level has a different theme. The trouble is the elevator's buttons are missing, and in order to access all the floors and progress, you have to get them by defeating a boss ghostie on each floor you unlock. It's essentially the same kind of deal as previous games in the series. You have to set about solving puzzles to overcome obstacles and progress through blocked paths. While it does veer into familiar territory, switching up the setting from a mansion to a hotel makes the third entry in the series feels much bigger in scale, especially as it's packed with so much variety.
No room is the same, and every differently themed floor presents new challenges. This variety encourages you to experiment with everything in Luigi's arsenal - it's incredibly pleasing when you work out how to pull down a hidden lever, or spin a wheel that showers you with coins. From a level with movie-set theme (which is my personal favourite), to a magic floor laden with all kinds of trickery, and so much more besides, the level designs are impressively creative and a pure joy to explore. I did find myself enjoying certain floors more than others, but overall, investigating every nook and cranny to find all of the rooms' many hidden secrets is an endlessly satisfying delight.
You can teach a plumber new tricks
Of course, you can't do any kind of exploring without the right equipment. As luck would have it, the paranormal researcher Professor E. Gadd gets caught up in Kings Boo's trap too. The professor brings with him a pop up laboratory that acts as an in-game menu hub where you can access a gallery of your collectibles, buy items from the shopping network, check out the map, and access the competitive co-op mode ScareScraper and the multiplayer mode ScreamPark.
To communicate with Luigi as he ventures through the floors, Gadd gives you a VB, or Virtual Boo, that looks exactly like a Virtual Boy. Just like the adorable GameBoy Horror (that pays homage to the Gameboy Colour) from Luigi's Mansion on the GameCube, and the Dual Screen from Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon (that looks just like a DS), you use the VB to access the map and get helpful tips from the professor using the E.Gadd hotline if you get a little stuck.
Oh, and it's thanks to E. Gadd that you get your hands on the latest model of Luigi's vacuum - the Poltergust G-00. Thankfully, the controls for all of the Poltergust moves are pretty straightforward and - for the most part - control smoothly, which is important since you'll be spending the majority of your time vacuuming up everything in sight. Aside from sucking up the contents of a room, you can also perform a Suction Shot that fires a plunger onto surfaces and objects to pull items or levers, and use the Burst move to jump into the air. But the piece de resistance is undoubtedly being able to summon your very own green doppelganger, Gooigi.
The gooey Luigi lookalike can pass through grates and drains, help you move objects you can't otherwise move on your own, and is handily resistant to spikey projectibles. Get water on him, though, and Gooigi will disintegrate into a gelatinous blob. Outside of his unique abilities, the green doppelganger is the perfect way of incorporating two player co-op into the mix. If you're playing by yourself, you have to switch between roles. In some situations – particularly certain boss fights – playing solo adds an additional challenge. I can just imagine how much easier it would have been if a pal took control of my doppelganger, but it's very doable on your own, so you don't have to be scared off if it sounds like it’s made with co-op in mind. The addition of Gooigi overall shakes the puzzle solving up in inventive ways, and the gooey guy is certainly one of the best additions who injects a breath of fresh gloopey air into the adventure.
Ghosts and gold galore
Naturally, you'll be fighting a lot of ghosts throughout your stay at the hotel. The exploration side of things is a lot more satisfying than sucking up the ghastly fiends, but once again Luigi's Mansion 3 shines in this department thanks to its variety. There are a lot of different ghosts who will have a variety of weapons, attire, and moves that push you to try out different tactics. I'll happily admit that I would just try out moves at random until I worked out the solution - because it isn't always obvious - but once you get the hang of what works and what doesn't, you'll feel like the most talented ghostbuster around.
Taking out the spectral foes involves doing a sequence of moves to collect them up into your vacuum. Using your trusty Strobulb, you stun the ghosts, suck them up with your Poltergust by moving the left analog stick in the opposite direction they’re going in, and perform a finishing slam move until their health has depleted. Pulling the ghosts can handle awkwardly at times due to how the Poltergust locks into place, and after I vacuum up another ghost for what felt like the thousandth time towards the end of the game, I'd more than had my fill of ghostly combat. Still, the variety of different ghosts interspersed throughout prevents things getting too routine.
Every boss you face on each level also has a unique style that ties in with the floors' themes. As such, the bosses have different features that are impervious to certain moves. So, for example, a security guard boss you face wears sunglasses that shields his eyes from Luigi's Strobulb, so you can't just stun him as you would normally. Every boss pushes you to experiment with all of your moves in a diverse range of ways, so no fight feels too stale or similar.
Boo-tifully animated scares
Luigi's Mansion 3 looks absolutely gorgeous. In fact, it's one of the best looking games on the Switch so far. The animation is wonderfully expressive and charming, with so much attention to detail. From the stitch work on Luigi's overalls, to the horrified expressions of our dear cowardly plumber as he gets spooked, every single cutscene and level design is beautifully executed.
Overall, Luigi's Mansion 3 manages to get the right balance between old and new to deliver a refreshing spin on the formula we've come to know and love from the series. Newcomers and longtime fans are sure to delight in exploring everything the hotel has to offer. Solving all of the wonderfully clever puzzles will leave you feeling satisfied, and with so much personality and charm, Luigi's Mansion 3 truly proves the green plumber can be the star of the show. After all, Mario can't have the limelight all the time.