March 10th is Mario Day (Mar10), the beloved Nintendo plumber who has defined the classic franchise for decades. In honor of that day in 2021, there was a great sale on some of the games in the franchise, including Luigi’s Mansion 3. I’d considered picking it up before, but at $21 off retail price, the decision was made.
Luigi’s Mansion is the first installment of the franchise to make it to the Switch, and it’s the first edition that I’ve ever played. For folks who grew up playing Nintendo DS game there is a long history, and familiarity, with the character and the storyline of Luigi as a timid ghost hunter. I however, have never played any of the previous versions of the game, but was looking forward to dipping my toes in the water. After all, Luigi is my favorite Mario-world character.
In Luigi’s Mansion 3 the group consisting of Luigi, Mario, Peach, and a few Toad’s, have been invited to a stay at a luxury hotel in the serene and palatial countryside. You arrive and everything seems wonderful, until sometime in the middle of the night you’re awoken by the sounds of ghosts. Soon, you’re on the run from King Boo trying to figure out a way to save your captive friends. You find your trusty Poltergust device and begin the process of capturing ghosts and exploring the hotel.
What did I like?
The gameplay is fun overall, with just enough challenge to keep things interesting. New ghosts show up from time to time that require you to adapt to a different strategy and keep things fresh. The Poltergust is a great mechanic, allowing you to suck up objects, money, ghosts, as well as shine various lights on areas to discover secrets. It’s a nice departure from a simple jumping platformer into something that feels like a genre of it’s own.
The animations and art style are delightful and fun. I loved the different themes of each level, and how the ghosts adapted to fit the motif. The same ghost might be a pop dancer on one level, but a graceful ballerina on another. The objects you collect reflect the visuals of the level, and overall it’s just nice to have things look different as you progress.
I was able to move through the game pretty quickly, and probably could have defeated the final boss much sooner than I did, but I also like to explore and collect things, which often found me staying on levels much longer than I needed to. Eventually, I did make it through the entire game, but I did end up going back to 100% all the collectibles once I had completed the final fight.
What didn’t I like?
I do have a couple minor complaints. I had never played a Luigi’s Mansion game before, and so I was learning the gameplay without any context of history. Although the game did try to give some guidance, there were a few moments where I had no idea what I was doing because I had never experienced any of the previous versions.
A few of the boss fights also took longer than I wanted to figure out. Sometimes it was incredibly unclear about how the fight was supposed to go. There were moments of frustration as I kept using trial and error to decipher what the game wanted me to do. Once I figured out the gimmicks the fights were really quite simple, but that period leading up to that point often required some head smashing.
Finally, I’ve never been a fan of most of the final boss fights in any Mario games. I often feel that they’re so far over the top from the rest of the game that they feel tacked on. I still haven’t completed Paper Mario: Origami King for this reason. It was just more annoyance than I wanted to deal with.
Despite a couple annoyances I really enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion 3. It was a great way to spend some quiet evenings, and I liked getting to know a new style of Mario world games. If you’ve been a fan of Luigi’s Mansion in the past, I’m sure this game will feel familiar and fun, and if not, it’s well worth the purchase and play time, especially if you can find it on sale.