Hands-On With The Secret-Filled Luigi’s Mansion 3

I played Luigi’s Mansion 3 at an embargoed Nintendo event on Sunday, where I also spoke to some of the game’s developers. It’s already feeling just as good as the great 2013 Nintendo 3DS game Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.

  • As with Dark Moon, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is being developed by Vancouver-based Next Level Games with supervision from Nintendo producers in Japan.

  • Luigi explores a hotel this time, not a mansion. He gets there one day via a bus that’s driven by Toad and also carries Mario, Peach and two other toads. Somehow those other characters go missing, the hotel’s elevator breaks, the place gets all spooky and Luigi has to explore each floor, vacuuming up ghosts while searching for the elevator’s missing buttons so he can go to other floors.

  • Dark Moon’s mission structure, which required players to start the same level multiple times to pursue various objectives, has been replaced with a more traditional free-flowing approach to exploration.

  • The game controls very similarly to Dark Moon. You see the game world from a so-called dollhouse perspective and walk Luigi through it, having him point his flashlight or vacuum at objects to interact with them. The vacuum, also known as the Poltergust, can suck or blow, which you’re using not just to vacuum ghosts, but to pull at curtains to reveal secrets or make propellers spin to raise or lower elevators, etc.

  • As in Dark Moon, you also have a Dark Light, which you can shine on invisible objects to make them appear.

  • New moves for this game include a burst, which entails Luigi pointing his vacuum at the floor and blasting it briefly so he hops straight up and things near him are blown away. You can also now shoot a plunger from the Poltergust, have it stick to something and then use the vacuum setting to tug at the plunger. I used this to pull open a wall that was obscuring a hidden collectible. I also used it to rip a shield that was being held by a ghost.

  • You catch ghosts similarly to how you did in the earlier Luigi’s Mansion games, but with a twist. You hit them with a strobe burst of your flashlight, then vacuum them, pulling against the direction they are moving in. As you do this, a meter starts filling.

    Once it is full, you can press the A button to activate a new move called Slam. This very satisfying action lets you smack the tethered ghost onto the floor repeatedly, even letting you change the direction of the slam as you do it. In short order, a decent player will be slamming a ghost into other ghosts, depleting all the ghosts’ health in the process.

  • Even just from the game’s E3 demo, it’s clear that Luigi’s Mansion 3 is stuffed with hidden treasure. As I scoured each room, I kept finding secret doors, bonus treasure rooms and more. One room, the entrance of which was hidden behind some giant barrels, didn’t just have a treasure chest but also a powerful golden ghost to catch.

  • The developers are expanding on an idea introduced in last year’s 3DS remake of the original Luigi’s Mansion by allow players to generate a green, gooey version of Luigi called Gooigi. With the press of the right thumbstick, players can switch to controlling Gooigi, who can walk through spikes and deploy the same vacuuming abilities as Luigi. In the demo I played, there were multiple instances in which I needed to use Gooigi to clear an obstacle.

    In some of those cases, I needed to have Gooigi keep vacuum-pulling something to keep a trap deactivated or to move an elevator while I then took command of Luigi to proceed. A second player can control Gooigi, but he can’t be a consistent companion, from what I could tell. When you leave a room, he dissolves.

  • Producers Kensuke Tanabe and Yoshihito Ikebata seem like very nice people, but during my interview with them, they declined to specify what kind of special gadget Luigi will carry around to communicate with his ghost-hunting mentor Prof. E Gadd. In the original GameCube Luigi’s Mansion, our hero had a modified Game Boy Colour.

    In the 3DS’ Dark Moon he carried a modified DS. Tanabe invited me to guess what Luigi would have this time, but I wasn’t sure—Wii U? Switch?—and he wouldn’t tell me. A 3DS would make sense.

  • Tanabe and Ikebata said they’re aware of the criticism that Dark Moon’s ghosts were generic compared to the more specific, named cast of boss ghosts in the GameCube original. They promise more of the GameCube-style ghosts for this one, though the generic green/blue/gold ghosts are plenty present as you play through each room.

  • As with Dark Moon, the game has multiplayer featuring everyone playing as a Luigi while hunting ghosts. It’s all been merged into a single “Scarescraper” mode that challenges players to clear various challenges floor by floor as they move through up to 10 floors of the hotel. One floor might involve clearing ghosts, another rescuing toads. In the match I played, I found some huge ghosts who could be vacuumed by two players at once.

    The producers estimate that a 10-floor run will take 30 minutes. The mode supports solo play but can be played by as many as eight people, using four Switch systems. With each of those Switch systems, one person could be playing as a Luigi, the other as a Gooigi.

We’ll have more on Luigi’s Mansion 3 and an interview with the game’s producers in the coming days. The short version, though, is that the demo was everything Dark Moon was and more. It made a very good first impression.

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