The GameCube is home to some of the best Nintendo games ever made. “Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door,” “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker,” “Super Mario Sunshine,” “Metroid Prime,” “Super Smash Bros. Melee,” “Animal Crossing” -- and I can go on. The one that was there right from its launch though was a weird, experimental title starring Mario’s brother Luigi. There isn’t even any jumping in “Luigi’s Mansion,” the action most integral to the series. Nintendo, being the atypical company that they are, pulled it off though. “Luigi’s Mansion” is one of my favorite video games ever created, so when a sequel was announced for Switch last year you can imagine my excitement. I have been waiting for over 15 years for this proper sequel (3DS one was fine but wasn’t quite the successor) and it somehow managed to meet my expectations brilliantly.
For the quick rundown, the “Luigi’s Mansion” games essentially make Luigi a ghostbuster but opting instead for a vacuum as his tool of choice. What made the original game so great is still present in this new entry. The atmosphere blended with Luigi’s own mannerisms puts you inside a world you are simply happy to play in. Environments are meticulously crafted to make the most out of the Poltergust vacuum pack. The closest genre it matches is adventure-puzzle placed inside a big virtual sandbox to use all your tools in. Through the greatly satisfying sucking and blowing of the Poltergust, you can find hidden treasures throughout every room.
The satisfaction of the gameplay loop comes down to the puzzles. The returning Professor E-Gadd has equipped the Poltergust G-00 with a new suction shot, a tweaked flashlight, dark-light, a sort of burst that propels Luigi in the air and of course my favorite, Gooigi. These new tools open up the possibilities for what can be done, especially if you’re going for each of the six hidden gems on each floor. While not technically a mansion, The Last Resort hotel offers a solid amount of content. Some of the puzzle solutions can get pretty tough too, making the satisfaction of solving it all the more rewarding.
The atmosphere is a strong part of what makes the “Luigi’s Mansion” games so great and that doesn’t change here. Each hotel floor has a theme, ranging from a botanical garden to a movie production set to a literal pirate ship. Their unique styles and soundtracks are what sell the experience for me. The bosses for each also reflect this same thinking. It felt rewarding to explore each and every cranny of them all.
As far as sucking ghosts, the enemy variety is fairly solid. There are about four or five main types you see, each with their own moves and variations. New to this entry as well is the slamming feature, which allows Luigi to slam the ghosts on the ground once a bar is filled while sucking. I was worried going in that it would start to feel repetitive at a certain point but surprisingly it kept me engaged for my entire playthrough. The boss for each floor of the hotel though is where the game truly shines. Each and every boss felt unique in design, and 99% of them I enjoyed. The boiler works floor boss, however, was one of the most frustrating bosses I have ever encountered in any game. The level introduces a neat mechanic for movement but the loss of tightness in controls with it made this particular fight a slog for me. Maybe I’m just terrible at the game, but I was incredibly happy to be done with this fight.
The thing I respect the most out of “Luigi’s Mansion 3” is that it keeps to the core of what made the original game so great all while still branching off to make its own thing. By core, I mean Luigi with his Poltergust, working with E-Gadd to suck up ghosts, save Mario out of a painting and a few other details. The obvious differences stem from stuff like the music and setting. No longer are we in a haunted mansion grooving to some funky hip-hop beat, now Luigi explores a towering hotel with well-thought-out unique themes on each floor with orchestral and jazz music. I love this, as its a sequel that doesn’t trivialize its predecessor and makes the first game still well-worth going back to. One thing I’ll say -- maybe its nostalgia -- but I think I prefer the designs of the ghosts from the original to this new title. That isn’t to say they’re bad by any means though and I appreciate that they chose to be different. You do still have the Mario button, which when pressed (left, right and down on the d-pad) has Luigi call out Mario’s name in a number of pronunciations.
Visually, this game is stunning. Much like the original was for the GameCube, this is a technical showcase for what Nintendo can pull off in-house with their hardware. The Switch is a generation behind PS4 and Xbox One, but multiple moments in this game could have me fooled on it being on par. A lot of this comes from the game’s lighting and attention to detail in every room. Luigi is also one of the most well-animated protagonists in any game ever made. His reactions to jumpscares and how his body will stiff up accordingly for a bit is an example of this, though it’s simply better to see it for yourself. This isn’t just one of the best looking Switch games, it is one of the best looking games of 2019. It goes to show just how much of an impact a strongly stylized art style can make on a game. That is another reason why the original holds up so well to this day.
“Luigi’s Mansion 3” sees Luigi’s deeply thought out motivations as he works through a version of Joseph Cambell’s The Hero’s Journey to rescue brother, tackling his own inner-demons along the way and -- alright I’m kidding. I do enjoy Luigi as the cowardly hero though, and him overcoming his fears to rescue his brother (as well as Princess Peach and three toads this time around) is a simple yet effective plot. The game plays up, of course, Luigi being the lesser-known brother but in the process kind of makes Mario a jerk in how he acts. Charles Martinet (voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi among others) continues to keep doing what he’s been doing for the past 23 years in nailing it at bringing these characters to life. Samantha Kelly also does a great job with Peach and the toads. You don’t really think about voice acting when it comes to “Mario” games but I think that’s a sign they’re doing a pretty job. The game also is solid in its humor with the ghosts’ slapstick comedy and E-Gadd simply as a character that exists. Polterpup also has to be the cutest canine sidekick in any game ever made. His incredibly cute interactions throughout the game with Luigi make him one to die for (though I guess he is already dead so you won’t even have to).
I have attempted to refrain from using the word charming at any point in this review, but that is simply the best description for this series as a whole. The gameplay loop, atmosphere, boss fights and Luigi himself all build upon a solid foundation for what is “Luigi’s Mansion 3.” My near twenty-hour playthrough was a fun ride from start to finish. While the reward sucks, the pursuit of finding every hidden gem and boo (with of course their boo-pun names) was well worth the time. “Luigi’s Mansion 3” is a perfect example of a sequel done right, which admittedly isn’t much of a surprise coming from Nintendo. After waiting all this time for the true sequel, I walked away from “Luigi’s Mansion 3” the most satisfied I have been with a game in a very long time.