When the GameCube launched with Luigi’s Mansion nearly 20 years ago (!), did anyone predict its sequel would turn out to be one of Nintendo’s best?
Luigi’s Mansion was not a Super Mario platformer, but a short, enjoyable, uniquely Nintendo take on survival horror. Then in 2019, Next Level Games gave us the sequel we didn’t know we wanted.
Gustin’ Makes Me Feel Good
Equipped with a new ghost-catching vacuum cleaner – the “Poltergust G-00”, created by Prof. E. Gadd – it’s up to Luigi to save his more famous brother from spooks and specters haunting an old hotel. The set-up is similar to the original and the controls are familiar, but Next Level Games take the gameplay to, well… the next level. The developers have expanded and deepened the formula.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 goes full Ghostbusters. The gag that defines the supernatural comedy classic comes from secretary Janine, assuring an anxious client: “Oh, they’ll be totally discreet!” Of course our heroes – field testing their “unlicensed nuclear accelerators” – proceed to demolish a hotel ballroom.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 just gets this.
Ghost battles are satisfyingly chaotic. The one-two punch gameplay of the original makes a return – stun your ghostly opponents with your pack’s Strobulb (flashlight), then wrangle and trap them using the vacuum function.
“We had the tools, we had the talent!”
This time around Luigi is equipped with a new move. A gauge fills as you grapple with the spooks, and when fully charged Luigi can throw down with a devastating slam, dealing massive damage by crashing ghosts into each other, or driving them into the destructible environments. In the spirit of Ghostbusters, one battle has Luigi taking on a group of ghouls in a ballroom – you can even vacuum up the tablecloths, and leave the flowers still standing!
The Poltergust also acts as an effective multi-tool – the vacuum can be used to suck up hidden cash and gold, the Strobulb powers-up devices, “Dark-Light” reveals supernatural secrets, and the “Suction Shot” (a toilet plunger) pulls weapons away from enemies. In an enjoyable set-piece in a haunted botanical garden, the Poltergust gains a circular saw that can be used to crunch through possessed plants – as well as furniture, fittings, and almost everything else. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is jammed with inventive puzzles, and the tools used to interact with them are almost tactile.
The game’s big addition is “Gooigi”, an ectoplasmic clone of Luigi who can be used to tackle ghosts and puzzles in tandem. Gooigi has all of Luigi’s moves, plus the ability to squeeze through bars, grates, and pipes, like a paranormal T-1000. As Luigi and Gooigi, you and a ghostbusting friend can play through the main campaign in couch co-op. (Luigi’s Mansion 3 also features online multiplayer, including a “ScareScraper” mode that has teams of up to 8 players clearing out procedurally generated haunted houses.)
Apart from a couple of busy battles in which it’s easy to lose track of the action, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a joy to play. The ghost-catching mechanics are brilliantly realized, the boss fights are challenging and creative (in the “Unnatural History Museum”, Luigi takes on the possessed fossil of a T-Rex) and there are moments of pure physical comedy, with Luigi scared stiff by things that go bump in the night. Next Level Games brings the franchise into its own – no longer just a Super Mario spin-off, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a great game in its own right.
5 Boos out of 5