Luigi's Mansion 3 Preview
The lankier Mario brother’s latest adventure was our favourite game at Gamescom 2019. Read on for our full preview, and check out all our other coverage from the event.
Poor Luigi. Every time he gets the chance to shine he gets the life scared out of him. You’d think the green one would be well and truly over his fear of ghosts by now, but the immersion therapy doesn’t seem to have worked all that well. Thankfully, the only truly scary thing about Luigi’s Mansion 3 is just how much fun it is.
Seeing Luigi tremble in fear has been delightfully funny since the first game launched alongside the Gamecube back in 2001. You can’t help but feel for the goon as he soldiers on despite his yellow-bellied nature.
The new functionality that the Poltergust has been fitted with, combined with some smart level design, means Luigi’s Mansion 3 could be the most entertaining entry in the series yet.
This time Luigi is tasked with tracking down his friends through a haunted hotel. The multi-floored setting of the locale adds a new verticality to some sections that the series hasn’t necessarily had before. This opens up the possibility for much more interesting puzzles to solve.
Solving those puzzles requires you to really utilise the different tools in Luigi’s arsenal. Sure there’s the standard vacuum functionality, but you’ve also got Gooigi to help out, as well as a plunger you can launch from the end of your nozzle. This latter function is great for yanking open barrels (by vacuuming up the rope attached to the end of the plunger, naturally), and ripping away enemy shields to open them up to dust-busting attacks (more on that shortly).
The dark light from Dark Moon returns too, opening up paths that are otherwise obscured. The variety of tools at your command means you’ve got to think a little if you get stuck. Successfully figuring out which of these abilities opened up the way ahead never failed to flush me with satisfaction (plumbing pun most definitely intended).
As for Gooigi, the coagulated clone allows for the kind of puzzle solving that has long been a staple of co-op games. His ability to walk through spikes unharmed comes in handy too, both for finding secrets and activating switches that the fleshier incarnation can’t reach. You do have to be careful where you leave Luigi though - he took a bit of a pounding when I’d inadvertently wandered off in goo form.
If you do find yourself cornered, hoovering up ghosts has never been this satisfying. It follows the standard process of stunning them with your torch before turning on the Poltergust, but you can now slam the spectres about like they’re Loki to your Hulk. I can safely say that this will never get old. Flinging them around - and clobbering their pals while you’re at it - is so entertaining and so much fun it makes you wonder why you’ve not been able to do it before.
It almost makes Luigi seem overpowered, but the tough boss battle soon set that straight. The kingpin I had to fell in the demo was indeed a king, and one that bested me at that. A fully charged strobe light was needed at the right time in order to stun him, before firing a plunger at his chest plate before slamming the armour off his ghostly physique.
Needing to use these different techniques in conjunction made it a tough yet satisfying battle. Unfortunately the enjoyment was hampered a little by some awkward controls. I needed to hold down one face button to keep the torch fully charged, while pivoting with the right stick and running around avoiding attacks with the left. My hand looked like I’d suddenly been riddled with arthritis, and it made it a rather clumsy affair trying to set the baddie up for the a killer blow (or suck in this case).
One hopes that the buttons can be re-mapped in the final game, or at least give us the option to activate the torch using one of the shoulder buttons. It would be a shame if some tricky inputs got in the way of what was otherwise an incredibly entertaining fight.
That one quibble aside, Luigi’s Mansion 3 was easily the best game I played at Gamescom this year. The puzzles were fun to solve, the environments were full of cool details - I can’t wait to see what the other floors have in store - and the combat is downright hilarious. I can’t stress how much I loved flinging ghosts around all over the place.
The franchise may not be one of Nintendo’s biggest, but it’s been one of the most charming thanks to Luigi’s reluctant hero status. If the final game can build upon the huge promise offered by this demo, then Luigi’s Mansion 3 will easily be the best of the set. It could become yet another must-own game for the Switch.
Phil is the co-founder and editor of Nintendo Village, and also writes, hosts and produces P Myth Gaming. He has been a Nintendo fanboy for as long as he can remember and owns every home console bar the Virtual Boy (one day... one day...). His favourite game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time