E3 Hands-On: Luigi’s Mansion 3
Nintendo’s second son has his own Odyssey
Leading up to this year’s E3, Nintendo did not specify an individual game which would take up the lion’s share of their showfloor and would be the focus of their Direct. This is a marked divergence from the past three years of the show when there was a very narrow spotlight shined on Breath of the Wild in 2016, Super Mario Odyssey in 2017, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in 2018. What could Nintendo have up their sleeves that would measure up to the titans of years past? People are excited for the Link’s Awakening remake, but that came out 26 years ago and has a fairly small scope. Pokémon Sword and Shield are likely to be Nintendo’s best-selling titles of 2019, but Pokémon is often regarded as a known quantity and is becoming quite the controversial news story. The actual answer is that Nintendo opted to focus on a multitude of highly anticipated titles and did not have a traditional show-stealer this year. Still, Luigi’s Mansion 3 comes close.
The booth for Luigi’s Mansion 3 was as ornate and impressive as E3 goers have come to expect from Nintendo. After waiting in line, passing a couple of statues of Luigi and his new blasphemous Jello-O Cup of a partner, Gooigi, we were welcomed into a dark room by a Nintendo staffer dressed in full hotel bellhop regalia. Once we adjusted to the stark contrast in brightness compared to the rest of the showfloor, we were greeted with cobweb-riddled chandeliers, holograms of Boos, and a suite of staircases that I’m certain were just for show. They were probably haunted staircases, but I didn’t have my handy Game Boy Horror to scan them and make sure.
Once settled at one of the Nintendo Switch stations, it was immediately clear how colorful and vibrant Luigi’s world is this time around. Players interested in seeing more of the off-kilter characters and setting in the style of the first Luigi’s Mansion game will be pleased with the huge variety of impressive set-pieces, menacing ghosts, and helpful friends in this game. The demo had an attract mode, cycling through scenes of Luigi and Polterpup riding a train, Mario, Peach, and Toad walking into the haunted hotel, and run-ins with all manner of spooky specters.
One such ghost would serve as the end boss of the demo. My Nintendo representative informed me that the main collectable of the game would be elevator buttons that need to be collected from boss ghosts in order to access more floors of the hotel. After a brief tutorial of the controls, I was off to collect an elevator button of my own from a ghost that fancied himself a gladiator.
If there’s one word that most encapsulates the strengths of Luigi’s Mansion 3, it’s “charm.” From the way Luigi can send out Gooigi as a liquid drone to help him solve puzzles to the paper-craft crowd the gladiator ghost erects in order to simulate real popularity, every hall of the expansive hotel is filled with levels of charm and world-building that only this series can provide.
Additionally, the controls work like a dream. Compared to the series’ second outing on the 3DS, this iteration’s control scheme is a lot more comfortable. It might take new players a minute or two of testing in order for the set-up to fully sink in, but once it does they will be able to suck up ghosts and ghouls with relative ease. New features like the ability to use the new Poltergust G-00 to slam ghosts into the ground feel fantastic, which can likely be attributed to a very precise and thoughtful use of the Switch’s HD Rumble. It isn’t being used all the time, but a slight jostle when flinging a ghost into the floor or when expelling air from the Poltergust to approximate a jump goes a long way in making the hotel feel much more immersive.
By the time I’d nicked the gladiator’s elevator button and reached the end of the demo, I was convinced that Luigi’s Mansion 3 was Nintendo’s game of the show and, frankly, a contender for being one of the most fun, interesting, and especially charming games of E3 2019 as a whole. The title was already an exciting prospect, but after this showing it has rocketed up to being one of my most anticipated games of 2019 and I’ll certainly pick it up when it launches for Nintendo Switch later this year.