Explore the various floors, bring a friend and rise to the top of the hotel.
Luigi's Mansion is a Nintendo series that I really adore. When the original game launched in May 2002 in Europe, I couldn't stop playing. With my initial rounds, it took a while to see every little bit of the world. Every room did something unique, and the bosses were delightfully bizarre. I still have warm fuzzy memories when I think back on that first stepping stone. Luigi's Mansion 2 is one of my favorite Nintendo 3DS games ever. While there were a few control niggles, the game was loaded with content. I might be one of the few people that enjoyed the mission structure, and after replaying it half a year ago, I still think it’s worth your time and money. My experiences with the previous two titles are what got me excited for the new Luigi's Mansion 3, which seems to combine gameplay styles of the previous two titles. Is it everything I wanted and more? Not exactly, even if it is quite enjoyable.
In Luigi's Mansion 3, Luigi and friends accept an invitation to a fabulous hotel called the Last Resort. The player is greeted by Hallen Gravely, the hotel’s owner, and even gets to explore the hotel just a tiny bit. After the initial moments, the game goes into second gear and plunges fully into its ghost hunting mode. King Boo shows up, traps all of Luigi's friends in paintings and you will have to rescue them. You quickly run into Professor E. Gadd, and together you make a plan to get to the top of the hotel. Storywise, that’s mostly it. The journey hasn't really surprised me in any way, despite being streamlined and falling moment to moment squarely between the first and second games.
That is honestly my main complaint with Luigi's Mansion 3 so far. The game dips nowhere near an average experience and is even quite an enjoyable romp. That being said, I can't help but feel slightly disappointed. Not at the set-up, because I understand that a streamlined introduction makes it easier to pick up. There is, however, wasted potential when it comes to some of the individual floors in the hotel. Let's take the Fourth Floor, The Great Stage, as an example. If you solely plan to go through the story, the floor is basically a couple of rooms and a big boss. The boss is really solid though, seeing you fighting a musician ghost that does some neat tricks.
On the flipside, I do also believe that some floors are incredibly smart in their setup. My favorite of the bunch is the Garden Suites. While it may look like one floor on a digitized map, it is actually a huge staircase in which you enter various rooms. These suites are overgrown with nature, so you will have to suck up leaves and destroy watermelons along the way. By clearing out those rooms, you will slowly work your way to the top and prepare for the boss fight that awaits. The ultimate goal on every floor is getting a lift button, allowing you to access one location further up the chain. There is a constant drive to push onward and see that next floor as the lift button always remains clearly in sight.
Honestly, I do see the floors as a substitute for the missions in Luigi's Mansion 2 and not the mansion in the original. While you can freely move between floors, there is a buffer/loading screen before you enter the next section. There is some play between the various floors later on, but otherwise they are handled as separate entities. It is a solid compromise for those who prefer one of the previous games over the other, allowing them to enjoy this third entry in their own way. As for me, I am solely going for the story my first trip around the hotel. It keeps the action going and ensures that the journey feels like one continuous experience.
That being said, the collectibles got a significant overhaul as some didn't enjoy the way they were laid out in Dark Moon. All throughout the hotel are Boos hidden on specific floors. You will have to touch a specific object, after which a Boo will spill a one-liner. The way you catch these white entities is different now too, forcing you to suck up the tongue and swing them around like a ragdoll. In addition, every floor has a specific number of gems, giving you something to fall back upon. They are very deviously hidden, forcing you to use every gameplay trick available to you. Where Luigi's Mansion 3 wants to excel is replay value; long after you finish the main campaign there are still reasons to book another stay at the hotel. The trick is working for me so far as I keep hanging around on each floor to get every single collectible.
One thing that Luigi's Mansion games are known for is the puzzles. As far as Luigi's Mansion 3 is concerned, I do think they are quite enjoyable. A floor like Paranormal Productions is just one gigantic puzzle that forces you to figure out a specific pattern. Another ''A-ha!'' moment is seeing hidden rooms on the map and finding out how you can access them. You will need to use every trick in the book including the Dark-Light, Strobulb, and the brand new Suction Cup. They are never tricky per se, but they flow well enough without the feeling you're being treated with kid gloves.
An important thing to bring up is that a good chunk of the puzzles require the use of Gooigi. Regardless of whether you're playing in co-op or not, you will need the gelatinous helper to get past certain obstacles. Personally, I didn't mind this as much, but I do think it impacted the difficulty just a tiny bit. You can add or remove Gooigi as it suits you, creating some entertaining plays in the process. For example, if I was about to get knocked out, I would ensure that the boss would focus its attack on my green companion instead. When you're playing in co-op, I do think that some of these strategies come more naturally. In that regard, this is quite a good title to play with a friend on the same screen. Don't worry though, the game is perfectly playable solo.
The gameplay we've seen over the past months hasn't really changed, but I do want to say how wonderful it feels to play. Luigi's Mansion 3 has been built on the foundations of the previous entries, but it’s further refined to allow for variety in the proceedings. During my journey, I've been using the Pro Controller and it feels absolutely wonderful. You control your green friends with the joysticks, use ZL and ZR to out suck out and in, and use the buttons to activate various functions. The changes are in the details. When you bring an item closer to you, the game will now showcase a reticle to show where you will be shooting the item. This helps for the environmental puzzles where you have to find items, aim them correctly, and then carry on.
Another important inclusion is the Slam, allowing you to damage ghosts in quick succession multiple times. Even now, several hours in, I'm still in love with defeating ghosts with this ability. The way that you can hit multiple ghosts is honestly a lot of fun and a very clever mechanic. As mentioned before, the Suction Shot is a new way of solving puzzles. By shooting a plunger with the Y-button and then reeling it back in, you can open new doors for yourself or sometimes Gooigi. The Burst, another important ability mentioned at an early stage, isn't as utilized as you may think. That being said, by blowing all the enemies back at once, you do have a lot more crowd control, which is useful when multiple ghosts start to gang up on you.
The final addition to the gameplay is the Virtual Boo, a parody of the Virtual Boy. The device allows you to stay in direct contact with Professor E. Gadd, just in case you need a hint or two. In addition to the E. Gadd Hotline, you will find a comprehensive map of the entire facility as well as a guide for the finer details of the game. Most importantly, you can go back to E. Gadd's portable lab in the basement in a flash. Traveling back might be important for looking at the Gallery of collected ghosted or for purchasing items that can help you find Gems and save you from certain defeat. You can instantly travel back from your last location to the lab and back, without losing much time in the process.
In addition to the single-player campaign, there are two more options worth taking a look at. First of all, there is the ScareScraper multiplayer mode, which makes a return from the previous game. The mode can be played over either local wireless or online, both with randoms or friends. It is even possible to bring a friend along and let them play as Gooigi, making this effectively an eight player mode. Players will be tasked with climbing various towers, each with 5 or 10 floors each. The floors presented are different every time you play, and will come with a variety of objectives. This includes capturing all the ghosts, finding a certain amount of money or saving a bunch of Toads. Even without the boundaries of the presented objectives, the game may surprise you with the enemies you have to face.
In my experience, I found the journey through the ScareScraper a lot harder than the regular single-player campaign. You really have to work together to survive or you won't make it. The levels are filled with traps, like making you stuck behind a door or rolling you inside a carpet. Getting out of these jams will require the help of somebody else, so you better stay close to each other. On the higher levels, you might find yourself stripped of your Poltergust or facing a complete power outage. Sometimes you might want to go for big points yourself, and there are seven items that can help with that, such as the Dark-Light Goggles that allow you to see ghosts at any time, the Power Star that destroys them instantly, and the timer that extends the playing time on the current floor. With these and more at hand, you will have no problem surviving.
Finally, we have the ScreamPark. There are three minigames available, and frankly they are just all right. In Coin Floating, players will blow up a floaty and try to collect as many coins as they possibly can. The trick is that if you touch just a single mine, you will lose all your progress and have to start collecting all over again. The trick is to blow up your opponents and have the playing field all for yourself. Ghost Hunt sees players defeating ghosts to earn points. Depending on the ghosts you collect, you will earn more points along the way. The monstrous red ones are worth 12 points, for example. This was likely my favorite minigame as it made fighting the ghosts a battle of who can do it the best. There are even items and hidden ghosts in gravestones to add an additional twist. Lastly, there is Cannon Barrage. You will load up cannons, shoot at targets and score points. The trick is to keep stealing your opponent's balls so that they can't make any progress. While I thought that the idea was cool, the scope was way too limited. With two just two cannons, there is a lot of scrambling going on.
Luigi's Mansion 3 looks absolutely stellar when it comes to its presentation. The various character models, locales and overall look really bring the hotel theme home. The entire game runs without a hitch either, which is certainly nice to see. Regardless of what you’re looking for with this game, Luigi's Mansion 3 certainly knows how to make a first impression. The same goes for the music, which fits well with its various themes and battling the ghosts.
Luigi's Mansion 3 is a strong game, but I need more time to fully assess things. I'm not high on some of the floors and there is a decided lack of spectacle. Does that make it a bad game? Far from it. The gameplay is the best it has ever been, and it flows quite nicely overall. ScareScraper also impresses right out of the gate with harder gameplay and a focus on objective-based missions. The minigames are okay, but outside of being nice curiosities, they don't really change my mind on the overall package. These feelings are still developing and I will gladly tell you more later this month.