Luigi’s Mansion 3 is lighthearted, scary good fun

I got the opportunity to play a demo of Luigi’s Mansion 3 at E3 2019 and as someone new to the series I have to say it charmed me. Luigi’s Mansion has always been a franchise I meant to play, but I never got around to doing so. Luckily, you don’t need to play the other games to pick this one up and start going.

One thing that surprised me with Luigi’s Mansion 3 was the controls. For a Nintendo game, manipulating Luigi on-screen is pretty complicated. You move him about the screen with the left thumbstick and rotate him using the right thumbstick. Additionally, there are motion controls you can use to aim. At first, the whole thing feels clumsy and unintuitive, but with some practice, it all comes together.

The gameplay loop is simple but enjoyable. Each room you enter usually has some sort of objective, whether it’s capturing a certain amount of ghosts or finding a key to unlock a door. You can capture ghosts by charging your flashlight and then stunning them by hitting them with the beam. The flashlight works sort of like a camera flash, so if you miss, you’ll have to run around the room frantically while it charges again.

Luigi's Mansion 3 Preview E3 2019 Gooigi

Once ghosts are stunned by the flashlight, you can suck them up with the vacuum. When they’re being sucked up, you have to fill the vacuum meter by pulling in the opposite direction of the ghost. Once it’s filled, you can slam around the spirit, which will also damage nearby objects and enemies. Taking out enemies is involved, but since you can slam them, you’ll quickly learn how to combo captures.

This time around Luigi’s mansion isn’t really a mansion per se. Instead, Luigi has to explore a vast haunted hotel, with each floor having its own theme. To continue through the hotel, you’ll have to seek out elevator buttons that will let you move up a story. The level in the demo was medieval-themed, and I had a great time vacuuming my way through stone chambers to the boss who occupied a ghastly medieval fair. Gooigi was also used to good effect, and several puzzles had you using him to pass through areas Luigi couldn’t or having him help Luigi perform a task. I didn’t get to try any of the co-op or multiplayer modes, but I think two people would have a blast going through the game together as Gooigi and Luigi.

The boss was trickier than I thought he would be. He possessed a suit of armor and began charging me atop a ghost horse. The trick to beating him was to hit him with a fully-charged flashlight beam while he was mid-sprint and while he was stunned to throw a plunger at him. The plunger is a new item that allows you to get a hold on something with your vacuum. In the boss’s case, it let me grab his suit of armor and slam him.

Even after figuring out the strategy of taking down the boss, he wasn’t super easy. It took some concentration to get his timing down, and arrows were being fired from the top of the screen for the whole fight. It was a great cap to the demo, and I hope that the final game has more engaging battles. I’m glad to see Nintendo investing time in its secondary franchises, and with how popular the Switch is, Luigi’s Mansion might be a new Mario franchise favorite, even with Mario MIA.