Parents need to know that “Luigi’s Mansion 3” is a comical, lighthearted haunted house game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch that sees Mario’s brother exploring a ghost infested hotel. He’s pretty scared, flinching at the slightest sound, teeth chattering whenever he sees something spooky. But he faces his fears in order to take on the hotel’s unnerving matriarch, who has captured and frozen his friends in paintings. Puzzle-like locations and ghosts force him (and the player) to put on his thinking cap and figure out how to defeat them. Violence is cartoonish and mild, involving only a vacuum cleaner that Luigi uses to grab onto and suck up ghosts, whacking them on objects and other ghosts to weaken them. But parents should note that this game can prove a bit tricky thanks to some tough puzzles that could leave players stumped. An on-call hint system is helpful, but doesn’t provide guidance in every situation.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
“Luigi’s Mansion 3” begins with Mario’s easily spooked sibling receiving a special invitation to visit a luxurious hotel with his friends. But things go awry once he arrives. His pals are captured by the hotel’s villainous proprietor, who freezes them in paintings. Worse, it turns out the hotel is brimming with ghosts eager to scare Luigi senseless. It’s up to Nintendo’s green-clad hero to search the place floor-by-floor, sucking up spirits with his trusty vacuum cleaner while trying to locate and rescue his chums.
Play is broken into a couple of elements: exploration and ghost battles. Players need to use Luigi’s growing arsenal of paranormal gadgetry — including a dark light that reveals secrets, a suction cup that can latch onto physical objects, and a Luigi clone made of green goo (controlled by either you or, in cooperative play, a friend) who can do anything Luigi can do — to examine every nook and cranny of the hotel to ferret out secrets and discover collectibles. Once in a while, Luigi’s searching will reveal one or more ghosts, which is when combat starts. Outside the story mode, cooperative and competitive multiplayer games allow groups of up to eight players locally or online to work together to solve puzzles and face off in mini-games that challenge teams to hunt ghosts and collect coins.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
The first thing many players will notice about “Luigi’s Mansion 3” is its beautifully drawn world rich with details. Each room is loaded with stuff to investigate and appreciate, from realistically flowing curtains and bedsheets to suspicious paintings and crevices. The whole game is absolutely brimming with personality, from themed rooms — including a movie set, a restaurant, and luxury suites — to memorable temperamental ghost bosses who become irate in funny and delightful ways when Luigi disturbs them.
These environments and characters have been cleverly built around the game’s exploration, puzzle, and combat systems. Players must constantly think about Luigi’s range of abilities and how they can be used in order to find secrets and overcome obstacles. It’s all about curiosity and experimentation — and the delight you feel when you discover something new. “Luigi’s Mansion 3” is creative game design at its best, and will be most rewarding to players who enjoy taking the time to investigate everything that the game will let them do.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 8 and older
Quality: 5 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 3 out of 5
Ease of play: 3 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 1 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 1 out of 5
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release date: October 31, 2019
ESRB rating: E for comic mischief, mild cartoon violence