Ever since 1981 when the first iteration of Donkey Kong appeared in arcades, Mario has been a sensation. Whilst he was originally known as Jumpman, the Italian plumber has since become a household name, heading up iconic titles such as Mario Kart and, more importantly in this instance, Super Mario Bros. Whilst we do love the moustachioed man, sometimes it's refreshing to see someone else take the limelight and who better than his taller, verdant brother Luigi. Fortunately, Nintendo has answered the call by bringing us Luigi's Mansion 3, which we managed to get hands-on with at E3 this year.
This third instalment in the series follows the 2013 3DS title and plays like an action-adventure. It's developed by Next Level Games, the very same developer that created Luigi's Mansion 2 (also known as Dark Moon in the US). This time around, Luigi and his friends have been invited to a luxurious hotel for a relaxing holiday, only to find out King Boo has staged everything to capture the gang. Luigi, with the help of Professor E. Gadd, must, therefore, save everyone using the iconic and returning Poltergust weapon.
The control scheme is actually quite simple. The movement and aiming controls revolve around using the two analogue sticks, which sometimes feels a little clunky, although with practice this should work itself out. The more challenging controls are based around using the Poltergust and dealing with those pesky spectres. Not only can Luigi use a flash mechanic, bound to the A button, but he can also suck with the Poltergust by pressing the ZR trigger, with the ZL trigger pushing. To cap everything off, the last main mechanic that Luigi himself can use involves firing a sticky plunger out of the Poltergust. The move is bound to the Y button, and it introduces several new interactions to play around with.
Using the Poltergust and the plunger mechanic, Luigi can interact with the environment. This could be by either simply sucking up food to regenerate health or by pulling down certain walls by sticking a plunger to them and sucking in the rope that's dangling off it. We know it sounds strange but it's basically the same situation as pulling on a rope to reveal a hidden part of a level. Another key part of using the Poltergust to interact with the world was by using the push-pull systems to manipulate fans or lifts, helping Luigi get to new parts of the level.
Perhaps the biggest new feature coming to the series and undoubtedly the new feature that stole the show when looking at Nintendo's E3 booths was Gooigi, the gooey version of Luigi, who is a second playable character that can be summoned by pressing in the R stick (and returned with another click). This charming and unique addition allows for more puzzles as Luigi can more or less be in two places at once. As well as literally being extra help in some cases, Gooigi can walk over spikes that would usually hurt Luigi. If you're wondering whether Gooigi has a weakness or is just plain invincible, we advise you keep him away from water as he's not much of a fan of staying hydrated.
Using the mechanics mentioned earlier, Luigi can take the fight to the ghosts who call the mansion their home. Chained attacks are designed around revealing the ghosts with a flash of light before sucking them up with the Poltergust. At the moment, everything may seem very reminiscent of Ghostbusters, however, it's when Luigi finally gets close enough to the ghosts that the experience starts to differ. To truly eliminate the spectres, Luigi must slam them into the floor, walls or even other ghosts by swinging them over his head in order to deal enough damage to work down their health bars in an incredibly comical and cartoony fashion. Each variation of ghost may have a different health bar and therefore might require additional swings to defeat.
As for the different ghosts we came across in the playable demo at E3, we noticed approximately five. There were the typical normies (simple ghosts with little else to identify them), and we also came across spectres wielding weapons and/or shields. These enemies required a different approach when attacking, as the shield ghosts, for example, could not be flashed directly. As for the remaining enemy type we came across - aside from the boss at the end who was an entirely different beast - we noticed the mansion had a serious rodent problem. Rats could be remarkably deadly when provoked - this being said, dealing with them is as simple as sucking them up with the Poltergust.
The boss fight we encountered - its ghost was gold in colour and it rode on an invisible horse -required a different approach as it couldn't be captured due to the heavy armour it was wearing. Therefore, in the end, we had to rip its armour off before it was vulnerable enough for us to take it down. To do this, we had to use the same mechanic that earlier had us sticking the plunger to walls and pulling them down. Once it was weak enough and its armour was gone, similar to the many spectres before it, this spooky boss succumbed to the brawn of Luigi, falling like the rest but awarding some special gear that we'll find out more about later this year.
All in all, from what we've seen, Luigi's Mansion 3 is looking very enticing. From its adorable and charming style to the introduction of Gooigi and its generally near flawless mechanics, this third title is looking to be a more than worthy successor to a series which has an incredibly devoted fan base, and we're excited to see more as it heads toward its 2019 release window.
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