Still, the light brain teasers are a welcome break from the combat, which can occasionally feel repetitive. Flash. Suck. Slam. Repeat. Thankfully, higher floors introduce ghost types that require a slightly different strategy. Some ghouls wear sunglasses, for instance, that need to be removed before you can stun them with the flash. My favorite was a possessed trunk that periodically opens its ‘mouth’ and tries to suck you in. The trick is to summon Gooigi, who can be used as a sacrificial pawn to clogs up the trunk’s teeth like chewing gum. That creates a window for Luigi to dash forward and vanquish the luggage with his Dark-Light bulb.
Every floor ends with a themed boss battle, too. These include Serpci, an Egyptian royal who fights inside a sand sculpture, Johnny Deepend, a swimmer with a mean volleyball throw, and Ug, a caveman that pilots a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Each boss has multiple attacks and a window of vulnerability that isn’t immediately obvious. Defeat them, though, and you’ll be rewarded with a glowing elevator button that lets you visit a previously inaccessible floor.
Some bosses also guard paintings that contain one of Luigi’s captured friends. These tie into a story which, like most Mario-themed games, is extremely simplistic. You’re trapped in a hotel. Mario, Peach and the gang need to be rescued. What more do you want or need to know, really?
Less forgivable is the occasional backtracking. On a couple of occasions, your newly acquired elevator button will be stolen by a ‘Polterkitty.’ You can track its pawprints with the Dark-Light Device, which usually lead to a hotel floor you’ve already cleared out. Find the cat and it will quickly scarper to a chandelier or ceiling fixture that is well beyond Luigi’s reach. You have to coax it down, go through the usual ghost-busting rigmarole and then watch helplessly as it scampers off again. Do this another two or three times and the ghost cat will finally give back your hard-fought button.
It’s simply unnecessary. I took 14 hours to beat the game (my playthrough included a bunch of gem and boo-hunting, admittedly) which is plenty long enough for a spooky Switch adventure. Luigi’s Mansion 3 also has some multiplayer offerings — three competitive ScreamPark mini-games and an updated version of Dark Moon’s ScareScraper mode that lets up to four people battle through floors cooperatively. In short, the game is already good value without the campaign’s dull Polterkitty sections.
Luigi isn’t just ‘Mario’s brother’ anymore. He’s a character in his own right.
Tedious filler aside, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a charming and imaginative game. The type that can anyone, regardless of their age or experience with a controller, can enjoy over Halloween. I wonder, though, if the series has reached its natural conclusion. Nintendo packed every classic horror setting into this game, as well as new combat and puzzle-solving mechanics. What next? Ghost-busting on the moon (To be fair, Mario has ventured into space before…)
If anyone can dream up a worthwhile sequel, though, it’s Nintendo. And I hope they do, because Luigi isn’t just ‘Mario’s brother’ anymore. He’s a character in his own right that deserves just as many starring roles.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 comes to Nintendo Switch on October 31st.
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