E3 Hands-On: Luigi’s Mansion 3

Hauntingly good.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/21/2019 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

I’ve griped about this before, but it bears repeating given the circumstances: Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon was as much a step backwards as it was forwards for the series. Developed by Next Level Games, I was miffed by how much the 3DS title spent with superfluous dialogue, eye-roll-inducing hand holding, and an awkward mission structure that needlessly ground exploration to a halt. Thus. when it was announced that Luigi’s Mansion 3 is also going to be a Next Level Games product, I was slightly worried. The original Luigi’s Mansion was a delightfully designed game that afforded its players the freedom to prowl every corridor of its eerie estate and showed restraint in how it conveyed both objectives as well as the personalities of its characters. As I walked up the stairs to Nintendo’s preview of Luigi’s Mansion 3, I had my fingers crossed that what awaited me would be more like the first game than the second.

The initial thing that stood out to me was just how pretty Luigi’s Mansion 3 is shaping up to be. If there’s anything that the series has gotten right both times, it’s establishing an uncanny sense of place. Every inch of the mansions that have been presented to players has been stuffed with details. Puffs of swirling dust, shelves packed with books, toys on shelves, plants poking through floors— the wealth of sights to soak in has been embarrassingly rich. Somehow, Next Level Games has managed to outdo itself and, dare I say it, possibly even Nintendo’s own efforts, with the game world this time around. The demo has Luigi wandering around what appears to be a medieval arena and it honestly looked like something pulled from a Pixar movie. I was heartbroken when my time with Luigi’s Mansion 3 ended because I wanted so desperately to keep staring at its wondrous world.

With the “it looks gorgeous” checkmark confidently marked on my mental list of expectations, I braced myself for an unbidden stream of endless dialogue from Professor E. Gadd, or at the very least an abrupt gameplay break every few seconds to let me know how to turn the console on and off (seriously, Dark Moon just loved to squawk at the player every chance it could!). Thankfully, nothing of the sort reared its head. I made my way around with not a peep, not a stop, not an interruption. It was the unfettered joy of exploration that the GameCube Luigi’s Mansion had made seem so effortless, but running in HD on a Switch.

One aspect of the exploration that I really loved was using Luigi’s new suction cup maneuver to find secret pathways. As I made my way through the demo, I came upon a row of large wine barrels pressed up against a wall. Each of the lids of the barrels could be latched onto with the suction cup, then using the Poltergust G-00, I tugged on them until they broke into pieces. With the lids removed, Luigi was free to step inside and collect money as well as dig around for a hidden route. I’m really looking forward to how Next Level Games has further innovated with new mechanics in this latest installment.

Gooigi is the ‘it” character of the moment for Nintendo (there’s a lot of fan chatter about turning him into an Amiibo!) and, so far, he’s worthy of the hype. While I didn’t get to experiment with the co-op in Luigi’s Mansion 3, I did get to take Gooigi for a spin as I combed through the demo. The gelatinous version of Mario’s younger brother can slip through hazards like spikes with ease, making him vital for taking on puzzles where it seems like Luigi has hit a dead end. What’s more, being able to swap between the two characters makes for some really great mind-benders in terms of navigating the game world, something that should really help make Luigi’s Mansion 3 extra fun.

A big part of Luigi’s Mansion is its expanded combat. Facing off against the ghosts sprinkled throughout the level, as well as the boss at the end of the demo, I was able to get a healthy sampling of Luigi’s new suite of attacks. That suction cup I mentioned earlier works wonders on removing obstacles like shields so that Luigi can then bombard his foes with the beam of his flashlight. Being able to slam opponents around is another solid addition; while it might seem oddly out of place at first, after the first couple of times hurtling ghosts to the ground becomes second nature. It’s especially great how ghosts can be used to hit each other, similar to slamming Foot Soldiers around in Turtles in Time on SNES.

My demo flew by and at the end I was floored by how much Next Level Games seems to have improved upon its work in Dark Moon. The sheer beauty of the game world is staggering enough, but the smart additions like Gooigi’s expanded role, visceral battles, and a renewed focus on free-flowing exploration have me absolutely hyped for Luigi’s Mansion 3. The game doesn’t have a firm release date yet, unfortunately, but whenever it arrives I have full confidence that the title is going to be one of the premier additions to the Switch library.

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