Those who read my reviews regularly (probably close to nobody) know that in preparation for the third installment of Luigi’s Mansion, I only saw it fit to replay the first two entries (reviews for Luigi’s Mansion and LM: Dark Moon). While I am not at all fond for Dark Moon, the first entry is one of the finest games for the Gamecube and one that I have a strong connection with. Despite my negative feelings toward the previous installment, I was looking forward to Luigi’s Mansion 3 for the Nintendo Switch, the final(?) entry in this idiosyncratic trilogy. So how does LM3 compare to the first two? Thankfully, it lies closer to the first Luigi’s Mansion.
At first, I became worried because Luigi’s Mansion 3 (closer to Luigi’s Hotel) started off glacially slow, much like Dark Moon, if not, worse. But then it gradually picks up once the game gets around to reintroducing you to to vacuuming ghosts again. It takes a while before you even encounter ghosts, but when you do, you’re in for a surprise.
Instead of the ghosts getting consumed by the Poltergust G-00 (a great name — you’ll find out why), ghosts are repeatedly slammed into the ground until their health is exhausted. It hilariously caught me off guard and immediately reminded me of the scene in The Avengers when the Hulk relentlessly slams Loki into the ground.
This hysterical new function isn’t without purpose, however. You can control which direction to slam the ghosts in, and if done precisely, you can take out more than just the ghost you’re slamming, which makes facing onslaughts of enemies ten times more interesting and exhilarating than it has ever been.
The new ghost-slamming ability is one out of many new abilities that makes Luigi’s Mansion 3 such an enriching sequel. Other new functions include a produceable shockwave, a rope with a suction-cup end, and most notably, gooigi: a copy of Luigi completely made of slime and the most inventive of the new abilities. Gooigi acts as a second Luigi and can slip through things like fences with gaps or vents and pipes. Gooigi is made useful through many different ways such as finding secret gems (there are 102!), reaching platforms normal Luigi couldn’t achieve, and even aiding Luigi in combat in imaginative ways.
The hotel concept is utilized in a neat way. Each floor embodies a theme such as Ancient Egypt, Medieval Times, a dance studio, and, my personal favorite: Paranormal Productions — a floor that mimics a movie studio. These themes are implemented into the puzzles to operate in many clever ways. The coolest one was on the Medieval floor — spiked traps were closing in on Luigi, so you had to use gooigi to prevent Luigi from impending doom.
An aspect that essentially goes hand-in-hand with the themes was the once-again, superb aesthetics. Everything looked gorgeously cartoony, the sound design was also playfully cartoony, and each floor had its own musical tune to match the theme.
LM3 still falls into the same trap of being as linear as the first two installments, but it is also the best one yet to compensate for that linearity. Unlike LM and DM, ghosts reappear in already explored areas, keeping the player on their toes instead of being eternally bare. Nintendo also shows off a knack for forging creative and satisfyingly fun boss battles with just the right amount of difficulty. Although, I’m not a huge fan of how bosses are introduced with the whole “cinematic” approach (which was the main reason the beginning of the game was so slow with the annoyingly abundant cutscenes).
LM3 unfortunately didn’t go without its distracting issues. One aspect I hope I’m not alone on is the controls, particularly the aiming — which there is quite a lot of. Facing the direction you want or aiming at a specific object was so difficult because the movements are a clunky mix of stick controls and motion controls. I could not, for the life of me, get used to them. It felt the aiming truly had a mind of its own, and was even a problem for the final boss (on a side note, I actually managed to glitch the final boss — the last thing I expected to happen in a usually flawlessly polished Nintendo title).
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a significant step up from the mediocre Dark Moon in more ways than one, and a solid conclusion(?) to the series. While it had plenty of bothersome issues, the sheer creativity and craftsmanship of nearly every design choice certainly cancelled out many of its shortcomings. Let’s hope Nintendo continues to deliver that same resourcefulness in the future.