Sunday, November 10, 2019

Luigi's Mansion 3 (NSW) Review

SuperPhillip Central kicks off this month of reviews with a big one! Luigi's Mansion 3 is one of Nintendo's most important games for its Switch's holiday season, and SuperPhillip Central has an enormously in-depth review for you to check out of Luigi's latest solo adventure!

You'll enjoy your stay at this haunted hotel.

It's been almost 20 years since the original Luigi's Mansion haunted the launch of the Nintendo GameCube. What a difference nearly 20 years make, as back in 2001, the game was a bit of a letdown to those who staunchly awaited a "real" Mario game to launch with the GameCube--after all, until then, it had been a tradition for every major Nintendo platform to launch with a major Mario game. Now, Luigi's Mansion is fondly appreciated, and it's the way it should be. It was a great game, albeit short and a bit too tech demo-ish for some folks' liking. 

Despite the better appreciation for Luigi's Mansion, since 2001, there's been but one other new installment in the franchise. That was Next Level Games' Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS. The game featured a mission-based structure with disconnected mansions and levels, better suited for portable play. Those longing for the original's formula were left a bit in the cold. 

Now, it's 2019, and finally, the third installment in the Luigi's Mansion series is here, and not only is it this reviewer's opinion that it's the best Luigi's Mansion game yet, and not only is it Next Level Games' best effort, but it's also one of the best games of 2019. It's Luigi's Mansion 3, and your stay at this hotel is requested by yours truly.

Luigi's Mansion 3 begins with the Mushroom Kingdom crew--Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and a trio of Toads--arriving at a sunny, picturesque hotel after receiving an invitation. However, by the time the sun sets and night falls, things take a terrifying turn. The invitation was a ruse by the hotel's manager, Hellen Gravely, who has let loose every ghost that Luigi caught in his previous ghost-busting adventures. Not only that, but a particularly vengeful villain from Luigi's past has turned Mario, Peach, and the Toad trio into portraits. Before the same fate can happen to Luigi, the unlikely hero (and adorably constant coward) escapes. Discovering a new Poltergust within a basement garage car, Luigi must rescue his friends, solve the trials of the multiple floor hotel, and capture the ghosts that stand (float?) in his way. 

Just what Luigi needs, a relaxing vacation. (It's also what Luigi won't get at The Last Resort hotel!)
With Luigi's trusty Poltergust vacuum, he is more than a match for the specters and spooks that haunt The Last Resort hotel. He even picks up some new tricks and gadgets along the way, courtesy of a familiar friend who specializes in ghostly apparitions. After all, his Poltergust is the main means Luigi does battle with ghosts that he encounters, and that's done by vacuuming them up. Of course, ghosts won't just allow themselves to be sucked up; they need to become vulnerable first. This is where the Strobe-light comes in, allowing Luigi to flash an enemy with the light, and then start sucking them up while they're blinded. Different ghosts require different strategies. Some necessitate new ideas and a little ingenuity, as they might wear sunglasses or have other things blocking their eyes from the effects of Luigi's light. 

Ta-da! The Poltergust G-00 is fully operational! Welcome back, old (and newly improved) friend!
Regardless, when a ghost is caught in Luigi's Poltergust, you pull the control stick away from the direction the ghost is feverishly trying to escape from. Many ghosts are quite quick and wily, moving in a manic pace and series of directions to make trying to catch them challenging. However, once they're in the process of being sucked up, a ghost's health whittles down and simultaneously fills a circular gauge. When the gauge is full, with multiple presses of the A button, Luigi can perform a series of slams, smashing the ghost (or ghosts, as it were) into the ground, and also as a side strategy, into other ghosts as a means for crowd control. Once a ghost's health is zero, Luigi's Poltergust happily vacuums it into nothingness. 

That's what you get for losing one of Luigi's suitcases!
There's a certain saying that you can't teach an old plumber new tricks (or something like that), and Luigi's Mansion 3 takes that notion, sucks it up in its own version of a Poltergust, and spits it out. Luigi gains new abilities throughout the duration of the game, which offer new ways to progress through The Last Resort hotel, as well as to defeat enemies. For instance, the Suction Shot shoots out a plunger that attaches to certain objects, such as doors and enemy shields, and allows Luigi's Poltergust to grab onto and pull the plunger, thus yanking them open or yanking them away. By pushing in both shoulder buttons at once, Luigi performs a small jump in the air by shooting out air downward from his Poltergust. Not only is this great for evading ground-based attacks, but it's also great for pushing away enemies that might be getting too close for Luigi's comfort. (Well, let's be fair, even 100 miles is still probably way too close for a ghost to get for Luigi's comfort!)

Ghosts who hide behind shields such as these can have them yanked away with the Suction Shot.
In addition to these abilities, there's another trick that doubles the proficiency of Luigi's Poltergust powers, and that's a new partner in ghost-busting that joins Luigi's adventure: Gooigi. This character debuted in last year's Nintendo 3DS remaster of the original Luigi's Mansion, but now Gooigi takes a much more prominent role. By pushing in the right analog stick twice, Gooigi appears. Gooigi can get to places that Luigi can't, such as through steel bars, iron bathroom drains, across spikes, and much more. Plenty of puzzles require the use of both Gooigi and Luigi to solve, whether it's through their combined strength to lift and remove a heavy object out of the way, having Gooigi continually blow air on a fan to allow Luigi to safely cross an otherwise hazardous rotating bridge, or via other means. There are some truly ingenious puzzles using both Luigi and Gooigi, including one late game boss that puts the two to work in an insanely clever way, which I obviously won't spoil here.

Another adage proven true in this game is that two Luigis are better than one!
You're never controlling both characters at once, unless you're playing in the optional local co-op mode for two players. Otherwise, you're merely switching between the two characters by pressing in the right analog stick. Gooigi has his own health to him--though much lower than Luigi's--and can't enter water or move too far away from Luigi without automatically disintegrating. That said, Gooigi can simply be summoned again if such a moment happens. 

Gooigi can go where Luigi can't. (I'm betting Luigi isn't too jealous most of the time, though.)
There are 17 unique floors in Luigi's Mansion 3's Last Resort hotel, and while Luigi's adventure begins with relatively ordinary settings (ordinary save for all the haunts and frights inside, of course), our "brave" hero soon finds himself discovering floors with ridiculous themes. One floor takes place at a medieval castle while another is a botanist's dream with all of its various varieties of plants blooming throughout, including the floor's gigantic tree in the central room that Luigi regularly scales. Another features four unique movie sets with television monitors serving as transportation points between each set. Then, there's a later floor in the game which serves as an ancient pyramid, complete with mummified ghosts and more booby traps than Luigi could shake an asp at. The amount of creativity in the floor and level design is immense, and the incredible amount of secrets hidden and sprinkled about inside these floors is sensational.

Pretty much everything you can think of in Luigi's Mansion 3's environments reacts in some way to the Poltergust. Objects can be sucked up, pulled on, rocked back and forth, placed inside the front of the Poltergust and then shot out, and so on and so forth. Players are greatly encouraged to interact with the environment, whether it's to collect the abundance of coins, bills, gold bars, and other forms of money in the game, or to gather one of six hidden gems found on each floor. The latter features even more of that ingenious creativity I was gushing about before. 

The way these sheets fold, stretch, and bend over these chairs so authentically
during movement is giving this lover of gaming physics some beautiful eye candy!
The gems in Luigi's Mansion 3 are usually always available to collect on your first arrival on a given floor. This isn't really a Metroid-style game, where you return to a past location with a new ability to collect something you may have missed the first time around. Instead, many times I found myself returning to past floors to collect something I missed because I discovered something new idea-wise from a later floor, not having realized the first go around that it was possible. Thus, rather than gaining new abilities, you gain new knowledge from later areas in the game to collect not only gems, but new ways to interact with the environment to discover new secrets and other goodies. 

Castle McFrights is but one of the themed floors Luigi will have to summon up the courage to get through.
The Last Resort hotel is designed in a way that each floor is generally its own separate, confined space. The only means to venture between most floors is via elevator, so in order to reach new, undiscovered floors, Luigi must find the missing elevator buttons to each floor. These are usually held by special boss ghosts, each with their own unique battle, some more developed than others (it's not until you get to floor four's boss that battles start to come into their own). Now, along the same lines, some floors in the game are more developed than others. Some are just a handful of rooms, but the majority have a complex variety of rooms and areas to explore, puzzles to solve, and challenges to overcome. Either way, the overall 13-18 hour adventure doesn't really outwear its welcome.

Boss ghosts are a lot of trial and error, but you'll feel like
the smartest player alive for figuring their strategies out!
Well, almost. Despite Luigi's Mansion 3 otherwise being a well paced adventure, there was but one occurrence in the game that resulted in some unexpected forced backtracking to previous floors. It seemed understandable for the developers to give some reason to return to past floors for those players who might not care to collect everything or go after the game's achievements, and I was okay with having to backtrack the first time. However, late in the game, the same scenario happens yet AGAIN, and instead of introducing something new, it's just the same backtracking (though in an alternate set of floors) with no variation in what you need to do to progress. It just came off as unnecessary padding in a game that didn't need it to begin with. 

Other than that, within the main story of Luigi's Mansion 3, I can see the B2 floor giving some players problems, as both part of the floor and the subsequent boss battle uses a unique control scheme. However, as a hint without spoiling anything, face the direction you want to move and press R instead of holding down the L button to move backward. (You'll understand what I mean if and when you arrive at this part of the game.)

Don't worry--there's a dedicated button to call out for Mario!
You can now fully enjoy the game without that worry!
Aside from Luigi's Mansion 3's insanely enjoyable single-player adventure (or co-op adventure with one player controlling Gooigi), there are two multiplayer modes to enjoy as part of the game. I definitely emphasize "enjoy" as for the most part, the ScareScraper and ScreamPark modes are a good deal of fun, more the former than the latter. 

The ScareScraper allows you--and even a co-op buddy to play together--to enter online or off, the titular building and clear floors (mazes of rooms and hallways) with specific goals in mind before the timer runs out. These goals include clearing the floor of all enemies, collecting a certain amount of money, rescuing four Toads and escorting them to a central chamber, among others. The ScareScraper comes in two varieties--a five-floor version and a ten-floor one--and up to four online players can join together, whether with online friends or randoms. 

Scare up some multiplayer fun, either online or off, with the ScareScraper!
Teamwork is a necessity in the ScareScraper, as teammates can fall into booby traps, some doors require multiple players to open, and coordination is key. The "Over here", "Help", and "Thank you" commands that your controlled Luigi can utter with a press of the D-Pad assist, as does the map on the top-right corner of the screen to see where your fellow teammates are, where you've been, and where you should go. 

Meanwhile, the ScreamPark gives some multiplayer fun to be had with 2-8 players in various mini-games, from collecting the most money to capturing the most ghosts within a time limit. I can see this mode being a fantastic time for party nights, but unfortunately, my time and enjoyment were limited due to not having enough people to fully appreciate this mode. 

Before I begin to wrap up, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this: for me, Luigi's Mansion 3 is seriously a contender for the best looking Nintendo Switch game. The fact that characters and environments have smooth edges instead of the rough and jagged lines that other Nintendo games have, is certainly a welcome culprit for as to why. Even still, the amount of interactivity with the environments, how things shatter, how objects break, how drapes wave in the wind, how panes of glass shine, how fire burns with a hypnotizing brightness, how light reflects on water or how moonlight shines off of the marble tile of the hotel floor--sorry, I started rambling, AND started drooling in the process! Regardless, it all looks fabulous, and I would be even more remiss if I didn't give a "WOW" to the character animations in this game--whether it's Luigi's amazing reactions and expressions or all of the colorful cast of specters within the game. Luigi's Mansion 3 is just amazing to look at.

Even the environment itself is feverishly drooling at how impressive this game looks!
Thankfully, as noted endlessly within this review, Luigi's Mansion 3 is also just amazing to play. Each floor I played, each boss I encountered, and each secret I discovered brought me so much joy. Luigi's Mansion 3 is just a pleasure to play, and the hotel setting is a wonderful compromise between the connected mansion of the 2001 original and the more disjointed mission-based structure of its Nintendo 3DS sequel, Dark Moon. I foresee plenty of my future gaming time being devoted to tackling those last achievements in the game, despite my needing to cover other, more pressing titles coming out. Alas, I think you're most definitely worth it, Luigi's Mansion 3. Like a friendly ghost, I won't mind you "haunting" me for a little while longer since you're one of the best games of the year.

[SPC Says: A]

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