We go hands on with the Poltergust G-00 with our first look at upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive, Luigi’s Mansion 3.
It’s amusing to recall that when the 2001 original was announced as a GameCube launch title, Nintendo fandom was less than impressed.
“Where’s our Mario?” we yelled. And yet, 18 years on, Luigi is one of the stars of E3 2019, the third game in his ghost hunting series one of the headline acts of Nintendo’s fall lineup.
And the little scaredy cat deserves that status. Not only were the first two Luigi’s Mansion games absolutely phenomenal puzzle adventures, they also helped define the character of Luigi as we know him today. The terrified, clumsy adventurer who will face his fears to save the brother he idolises. It’s a theme developed across many subsequent games, most amusingly – and inspirationally – in Mario and Luigi Dream Team Bros.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 finds our green-hatted hero in familiar territory. He’s once again on the hunt for ghosts at the behest of Professor E. Gadd, this time armed with the new and improved Poltergust G-00 vacuum.
The demo revisits some of the series’ traditional gameplay mechanics before gradually introducing some new features. As is traditional, the dazzler flashlight is used to stun the games’s varied collection of spectral beasties before they can be wrestled into submission by the Poltergust’s powerful vacuum. It’s also armed an unlimited supply of suction cups – cute toilet plungers on a rope – which can be used to snatch the shields that some ghosts hold up in self-defence.
Battling these familiars is familiar stuff to seasoned Luigi’s Mansion players but the encounters do feel more aggressive this time round, the ghosts almost feral in their behaviour.
The suck and blow of the Poltergust can also be used to poke into the corners of the environment to uncover coins, hearts, and other secrets. The folds of a curtain, the inside of barrel, a painting on a wall; each has something to give. Every room is full to the brim with points of interaction, and coupled with the excellent lighting and sublime animation of Luigi’s nervous gait, each scene is a delight for the eyes.
The headline addition in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the introduction of Gooigi, a luminous green doppelganger of our hero that echoes Slimer from Ghostbusters. Gooigi’s glutenous form makes him perfect for slipping across spiked floors and other hard to reach or dangerous places. You can switch between the characters at will, the only catch being that while Gooigi’s in play, Luigi is dormant, hanging like an inert puppet. Seeing the life sucked out of the poor little plumber is probably the game’s creepiest image.
Some moments do require some nifty finger gymnastics as one action is performed by Gooigi and another by Luigi in quick succession. In the context of this demo, it was slightly fiddly, but it will likely become second nature over time. If you mastered the idiosyncratic controls of Luigi’s Mansion 2 you’ll be fine here.
Another big change is the location. A haunted hotel is the perfect next step for the series, leaving behind the fun but compartmentalised confines of Dark Moon’s multiple mansions, and providing plenty of scope for varied environments in the final game. One sequence involves solving a puzzle to negotiate Luigi down a floor in an elevator. It’s simple stuff, but demonstrates a sense of scale and verticality absent in the game’s predecessors. And if there’s isn’t a sequence featuring a dumb waiter, I’ll be dumbfounded.
The demo ends with a short arena-set boss battle. Like many boss encounters in Nintendo games – think Zelda, Splatoon, and Metroid – it takes everything you’ve learned and puts it to good use. It’s a chaotic, rambunctious end to a charming gameplay demo.
Based on what we saw at E3, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a game worth making a reservation to check out when it’s released on Nintendo Switch later this year.
Check out every game announced in the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, and don’t forget to follow Thumbsticks on Twitter.