If there’s something strange in Mushroom Kingdom, who ya gonna call? Usually Mario, but this time, his little brother gets to shine for the third installment of Luigi’s Mansion.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 begins with Luigi, his pet ghost dog Polterpup, Mario and Peach being driven in a bus by her loyal Toads, heading to a luxury hotel that they all received an invitation to visit. The hotel, known as The Last Resort, a golden building, shines brightly as you approach it. Once you get in the hotel, you notice that the staff seem a bit off. After a bit of looking around and everyone gets settled for the evening, Luigi’s beauty sleep gets cut short as he wakes up to the sound of Peach’s scream. It is at this point that the hotel sheds its bright, shiny and happy design from the daytime, and much like a werewolf on a full moon, morphs into a haunted hotel in the evening. To top it off, all of your friends have gone missing! Luigi quickly learns that phantom proprietor of the resort, Hellen Gravely, had devised this trip as a plan to trap you and your friends, courtesy of King Boo. Hellen freed King Boo after he had been caught by Luigi in the last game of the series on the 3DS.
King Boo holds a clear grudge with Luigi and wants to exact his revenge. He shows Luigi that he has placed all of his friends in portraits. Upon seeing this, Luigi does what he is best at, and runs for his life and finds a way to escape. Armed with only your flashlight at first, upon exploring the basement, you find a new version of the trusted vacuum weapon, the Poltergust. You then also learn Professor E. Gadd was captured, but you find him, and he sets up for the rest of the game.
The game takes a bit of time to open up its core mechanics. Core mechanics of catching ghosts and solving the puzzles on each floor are still the focus of the game. Each floor of the hotel has a unique theme and a boss to go with it. My personal favorites were the movie themed floor where you reenact a Godzilla/Kajuu like movie battle. The best boss battle is the pirate floor, hands down. It does some really interesting camera work that made my son yell. “Oh no!” out loud. Having the theme creates a level of excitement. The rule usually for my son is he gets 30 minutes of play time, but if we ever beat a floor at the end of his time, he would puppy dog eye me to see the next floor. I am soft and weak, so of course I would always oblige.
What largely appealed to me for this game was the co-op option and to be able to play with my oldest kid. The games introduced the use of Gooigi. In its 3DS predecessor, but there are many floors in this entry were switching between the two Igi’s is integral. It also allows a younger family member to have a character that has infinite lives and relieves some pressure of losing. Gooigi allows a player to reach areas Luigi can’t. He can go through bars, spikes, and even grates or drains. However, he melts in water, disintegrates in fires and falls apart when a laser hits him. It is the ideal co-op partner, much like Tails is to Sonic.
The pacing of the game is done very well. Each floor takes about forty minutes if you are focused on progress. For those that like to explore, you can hunt for six theme related gems on each floor. If you’re a completionist, hunting the gems will be a must for you. There are two other multiplayer modes to enjoy in the game as well. This first is ScareScraper. This mode has two to eight players take on either five, ten, or unlimited floors of a haunted hotel. You have five minutes to defeat all the ghosts from the floor or to find all of the missing toads. Played with four different color Luigis, you can team up with a Gooigi of that color to compete with other players. There is challenge there for people looking for something harder. What bothered me a bit was there were unique power ups you could use, but with no instruction. I hate when a game gives you a tool with no frame of reference. The other multiplayer mode is ScreamPark. It features three different modes known as coin floating, ghost hunt and cannon barrage. They remind me of a Mario Party mini games. Pretty simple and fun a few times. After the initial play of them though, there is no reason to return.
While the game has it strong points, its flaws stick out like a cold sore on picture day. My largest gripe with the game is the controls. The controls tend to fight over its function of motion and joystick aiming. It is the worst when you are immersed in a game and then you get pulled out the experience because it isn’t responding to your commands. Frustration would reach meltdown levels with my five year old when he had to make quick precise movements or if there was a section where he had to save Luigi. That was an easy fix, as we could swap controllers to avoid that. What couldn’t be avoided was when you want to make a simple turn to the right, which would cause Luigi to slowly circle left till he was all the way around to the point I wanted him to. These frustration grew in the water levels of the basement where you have to turn an inner tube around to fight a boss. The turning slowly would allow the enemy to jump on you and causing you to get launched in the spikes. This and the pool level with the lifeguard will leading to your kid telling you that you are bad at the game. I am scarred for life and forever a disappointment to my child because of these poor controls.
When you are able to get items in the main story of the game, you are given very limited choices. There are gold bones, which are incredibly helpful and the only item worth buying. It gives you a free life and resurrects you if you drop to zero hearts. The other items help you find ghost or gems… and that’s it. I would have liked the game to give Luigi more abilities or perks you could swap out on the Poltergust. While each floor is creative and exciting to see, them games mechanics leave it to feel a bit of rinse and repeat. There is a ghost that causes you to go back to floors that also is a bit of a shortcut on the developers end. Instead of flushing out a unique floor, you go back to a floor you already did and then return to the floor for a quick boss fight and move on.
I enjoyed the time I had with Luigi’s Mansion 3, and the experience of beating the game with my son can’t be replaced. I really want to tell you to try this game, so if you can rent from Redbox or Gamefly, go for it. It is priced at $60 and is not worth the price of admission. If the price drops as time goes on, it might be worth it to buy. For that reason, I recommend you skip it for now.