Mario games are great. The red-hatted moustachioed hero has taken us on some marvellous adventures but sometimes you just want to try something different, but with someone frighteningly familiar. So, since it's almost Halloween, why not head to a spooky mansion, haunted with ghosts with Nintendo's favourite sibling, Luigi, in developer Next Level Games' latest title, Luigi's Mansion 3.
After receiving a mysterious invitation for a luxury getaway; Luigi, Mario, Princess Peach and three Toads take a vacation to the glorious The Last Resort hotel, only to find out they've been tricked by King Boo and his new accomplice, hotel owner Hellen Gravely. After narrowly escaping King Boo's trap, Luigi must navigate the nightmarish mansion filled with ghosts using the newly improved Poltergust G-00 as his ghoul hunting tool. With the help of Professor E. Gadd, the faithful Polterpup and the newly introduced Gooigi, Luigi must find the elevator buttons throughout the 17 uniquely styled floors to climb the haunted hotel, taking down any spectres in his path and saving his friends.
All this might seem a little daunting but the mechanics in Luigi's Mansion 3 are designed to be simple at their core. In fact, the true extent of the control scheme only applies to use of the Poltergust, because Luigi himself can only really move and open things. As for using the Poltergust; you can suck, blow, strobe, burst, fire a plunger, use a dark-light and even summon Gooigi. It might sound like a lot to take in but in reality, you can perform all these actions, except summoning Gooigi by using the L/R and ZL/ZR buttons, plus the motion controls of the Switch to help with aiming (meaning you never really need to take your thumbs of the sticks).
You're probably wondering, how exactly do you transfer this knowledge of the Poltergust to tackle ghosts? The combat systems in Luigi's Mansion 3 are quite simple. Once you encounter a ghost, the first thing to do is to stun it with the strobe light, giving you ample time to close the distance to the ghoul and start sucking it up. At this point, the aim is to counter the ghost's movement, tiring it out, similarly to fishing except in a more supernatural way. After you have control of it, you can swing it around, slamming the ghost on the ground, whittling down its health bar until it's sucked up into the Poltergust.
The variety of ghosts throughout the game is nothing to sneer at either. You will encounter regular blue Goobs, large red Hammers, golden Oozers, purple Slinkers, orange Trappers as well as mini-Goobs and mini-Hammers, plus even Boos, rare ghosts and bosses. The great part of the many ghosts available is that they each require a unique method to take them down, as they all have different attacks and health pools, changing the way you approach each combat sequence.
The base mechanics are really simple, but Luigi's Mansion 3 doesn't stop there. You can, if you're skilled enough, strobe and suck up several ghosts at once and then when slamming them, hit other ghosts, damaging and stunning them in the process. The combat is designed to feel fluid and non-restrictive, and it certainly achieves that.
It might sound as if combat is quite forgiving but, Luigi only has a maximum of 99 health and ghosts hit for around 10-20 damage, meaning you will have to concentrate if you want to leave the hotel in one piece. There are many occasions during the story and during combat sequences where you can obtain health, but it is largely quite limited, and each heart only heals for 20 total health, which is something you will definitely have to pay attention to when tackling the many bosses throughout the game.
Each floor of The Last Resort comes with a unique boss featuring a style that is representative of the floor they are on, a large health pool, and a new set of mechanics for you to figure out. This could be anything, from having to rip armour off a ghost using the plunger-pull mechanic, all the way through to fighting a ghoul in a blow-up swan rubber floaty. The point is, each boss will require you to approach them differently should you want to succeed and claim the elevator button they are harbouring.
As well as taking down ghosts, the Poltergust can use its features to unlock new areas and manipulate certain objects in the environment. For example, there will be multiple occasions throughout the storyline where you need to reveal a hidden door with the dark-light or use the suck/blow mechanic to move a wheel or fan that will in turn move a platform or open a door. Other times might require you to stick a plunger to a surface, before grabbing the rope on the end of the plunger and pulling on it as a method of leverage. The truth is that a lot of Luigi's Mansion 3 will require you to think outside the box because a lot of the time, a dead end isn't a dead end.
Aside from just finding elevator buttons and tackling ghosts, you can collect a whole variety of items as you progress through the storyline, as well as various currencies that can be spent in the store. You can search each floor for six unique gems, each set in a style relative to the floor design and hidden in places requiring you to check literally every nook and cranny.
On top of this, you can hunt the limited number of Boos hidden around the hotel, who are much tougher than your regular ghosts and will require a new approach if you're to fight them. If the searching process is becoming a little exhausting, you can take the money you've collected with the Poltergust and spend it in the store, where you can buy gem finders, Boo finders and Golden Bones that will give you an extra life should you fall in combat.
Before we head into the other game modes, it's time to talk about the main attraction, Luigi's newest ally, Gooigi. This loveable lump of goop is a green lifelike model of Luigi, who can assist with many of the tasks throughout the hotel. Unlike our protagonist, Gooigi can be summoned and retracted at a whim as part of the Poltergust G-00 model, although the catch is that he only has 25 health (a mere quarter of Luigi's), and he has a terrible weakness for liquids. This means that while Gooigi does bring some new features, such as being able to squeeze through grates and tubes or assist with ghost capturing, he is quite weak and will be defeated often. If this happens though, give it a second for the Poltergust to refill and you can re-summon him at a moment's notice.
Aside from the brilliant story mode, Luigi's Mansion 3 comes equipped with some other game modes to play around with. First of all is the ScreamPark mode that is essentially a miniature version of Mario Party, as it brings three fun mini-games for up to eight players to mess around in. You can take part in Coin Floating, a mode that tasks players with collecting as many coins as possible in a limited time with the catch being that it's set in a swimming pool and everyone is in a swan floaty. There's also Ghost Hunt, which believe it or not is what it seems - a bunch of players competing to catch as many of the three different types of ghosts as they can in a limited amount of time.
Last of all is Cannon Barrage, a mode requiring players to load and fire cannons at a moving target, where cannonballs are carried by ghosts. Whilst these modes are a lot of fun, the limited variety means you probably won't spend to much time in the ScreamPark and let's be honest, it's not exactly the key interest of Luigi's Mansion 3. With this being said, there is an alternative.
ScreamScaper is a local and online mode that takes four players back into The Last Resort to push through five or ten floors as quickly as possible, or within the allotted time. The idea is to work as a unit of different coloured Luigis to complete the floor objectives, be it capturing ghosts or defeating crows (among other things), whilst simultaneously unlocking doors to be able to progress to new floors. On top of this, each floor is laden with traps that are designed to pick off the unsuspecting Luigi. These can be a variety of things, such as false doors or rugs, and you'll require the assistance of other players if you're going to escape any traps you encounter.
At the top of each ScareScraper is a boss fight to take on as a unit. For the most part, the battle will be about dodging respective attacks until the boss becomes damageable - when this happens your team will have to work together to bring down their health bar. Due to the bosses being designed for multiple people at once, the chances are you will likely faint a few times during a conflict, but this isn't an issue as your allies can easily revive you with a short animation. The full ScareScraper experience is actually a lot of fun, especially since there are commands you can use on the arrow buttons to signal for help.
In conclusion, Luigi's Mansion 3 is a great sequel to Dark Moon that brings all the best ghost hunting features and builds on them with interesting, fun mechanics. The storyline is charming and feels constantly fresh due to the differently styled floors and the variety of ghosts, and that's before even taking into account what Gooigi brings to the table. Even more so, the party modes in ScarePark and ScareScraper add another dimension to the title that pushes it beyond being a solitary adventure and instead gives it the potential to be enjoyed by a group, locally or online. At the end of the day, there are very few occasions where games set in the Super Mario franchise disappoint and this is definitely not one of them.
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