I probably first encountered the little brother of the world’s most famous plumber and his haunted stories years ago on a friend’s Gamecube. Since I’ve never owned one of my own, I didn’t have the opportunity to play the two predecessors and so I’m starting the third part of the series “virginally”. Luigi’s Mansion 3 hit the shelves just in time for Halloween and I made my way to the hotel armed with a vacuum cleaner.
Lady in distress
Well, Virgo might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s the way it always is. Luigi and his friends Mario, Peach and their three Toads are invited to the Hui Hotel for a great weekend. Unfortunately, it quickly turns out that the hotel manager Sarah Schreck is a great admirer and follower of the work of King Buu Huu. With their help, the ghost locks Mario, Peach and the Toads in paintings and it is the scaredy-cat Luigi who has to face the ghosts again to save his friends. Because the entire hotel business turns out to be a gigantic haunted house. Luigi’s faithful ghost dog, Polterpinscher, is there to help with the rescue, and later the scientist Immanuel Gidd appears again, providing us with advice and assistance. You can’t demand great writing from the game or expect it in any way. On the other hand, the atmosphere of the game is on point throughout the package. Luigi trembles through the hotel corridors, at the touch of a button he calls out “Mario” in a low voice, and here and there objects wobble or fall over. Everything that a haunted hotel should bring with it. The story and the events are told with text and cutscenes. As in all games with Mario and Luigi, the texts have not been synchronized.
As the game progresses, Luigi must gradually visit all floors of the hotel. He does this by means of an elevator, because there don’t seem to be any stairs. Too bad that all the elevator buttons have been removed and they still have to be found. Since we don’t know where our friends are anyway, we have to search every floor. In most cases, floors are ruled by special spirits that add to the floor theme. There is a floor based on the Middle Ages, a botanical garden and a film studio. There are some really nice ideas here. The game elements of Luigi’s Mansion 3 can be divided into two areas. On the one hand the fight against the ghosts and on the other hand the various puzzles and search tasks.
Who are you gonna call?
In the fight against the ghosts, Luigi relies on a flashlight and vacuum cleaner. While the simple opponents usually blind themselves briefly with the flashlight and then catch them with a kind of fishing mechanism with the vacuum cleaner, other ghosts require a little more skill. In order to catch a ghost, we always have to stun it first, which basically works with a flash of the flashlight. Then Luigi has to attach himself to the ghost with the sucker and weaken it. This works by steering in the opposite direction with the stick. If the ghost is weakened enough, we can toss it around with the push of a button and thus reduce its life points faster. With a group of ghosts, we can hit flying ghosts with the flying ghost and weaken them in advance. In the later course, we must first remove shields or sunglasses from ghosts in order to be able to stun them. In combat, however, the actions of the opponent can be guessed at and appropriate tactics can be implemented. The different items also add a bit of variety to the fights, which also allows you to overlook the fact that there are only four different main enemy types. Above all, however, the boss fights that await us on almost every floor are the real highlights of the game.
Luigi’s abilities are quite broad. With his “vacuum cleaner” he can suck as well as blow and shoot suction cups. He can use the flashlight to flash or reveal objects and doors that are not visible with the push of a button. While these hidden objects can often be seen in mirrors, they are absent in real space. Such nice tricks always invite you to explore the rooms more closely in order to really find everything. Otherwise, most of the puzzles consist of switch, crate and platform puzzles and require mastery of Luigi’s various skills. A new element would be added to Luigi’s Mansion 3 especially for the puzzles. Fluigi! Although the slimy clone already made a co-op appearance in the 2018 3DS game, it is now a central part of the game. Luigi often needs help, especially for the puzzles, because Fluigi can slip through bars due to his solid form and thus reach switches that Luigi would never be able to reach. However, the green goo friend does not like water at all and dissolves in it. In addition, he can also support Luigi with additional suction power and so the two of them can clear objects out of the way together. However, a little sensitivity is required here. We change the character by pressing the analog stick. If the previously controlled character has just sucked something in or pushed it away, he will continue to do so, so that you can provide appropriate support. However, this also works if we have a second player in front of the screen. Then one takes control of Fluigi. A second player can join in at any time and you can go ghost hunting.
Money makes the world go round
But what exactly can you find? Well, mainly money, in what feels like every crack in the sofa and every pillow there is a note or thaler hidden. On each floor you can also find five special gems and a special Buu Huu spirit. What do we do with it? Nothing to say the least. We can invest the money in three things. Golden bones, crystal clues and boo hoo clues. The former spawns Polterpinscher if we ever lose all our life points in combat and revives us. The other two purchase items are aids in the search for the collectibles. All purchasable elements only simplify the game. You can confidently pass all the money in the world or succumb to greed and suck up every little bit. Here I would have wished for a little more meaningfulness, which is perhaps also due to the fact that through many games you are already conditioned to collect everything that is not on the tree by three, because you can definitely do something with it later.
3D control sucks
The controls are probably the most difficult thing to get used to in the whole game. Even then I can remember that I couldn’t get along at all with the low side view and the controls in three-dimensional space. But it was probably also because I played my friend’s save and couldn’t start over. Luigi’s Mansion 3 gives a good introduction to the controls and all the different abilities of the Ghostbuster. And yet I suffered one or the other screen death because of the controls. But death is also a bit harsh, child-friendly as the game wants to be, Luigi falls asleep in fear and instead of Game Over, the screen says Good Night. There is some help with aiming, but that’s about it.
As is typical for a Nintendo game, Luigi’s Mansion looks absolutely fantastic in both TV and handheld modes. The level of detail of the hotel with the reflections, the shadow cast and the lighting effects is impressive for the hardware and does not need to hide from the large-scale production of the other dominant consoles. Everything really fits into the typical Nintendo image here. Animations, details, effects. The game ran buttery smooth the entire time I played, and the console temperature was kept within reasonable limits. The 17 different floors are varied and exploring the “levels” is really fun. The game is also detailed in terms of sound. Elevator music, which Luigi hums along with for a long time, great effects and setting-oriented music enhance the atmosphere of the game again.
Luigi’s Mansion requires no previous knowledge of the old parts. Nevertheless, if you have played the other parts in advance, you know what you are getting here. With around 15 hours for the main story and another four to five hours to solve all the puzzles in the hotel and find the remaining collectibles, you can get a package for young and old for around €50. The mini-games are a nice gimmick, but that’s about it. It’s just nice that a friend who is visiting can join the game.
Presentation (graphics, sound)
Lots of secrets to discover
Control sometimes very notchy
money is superfluous