This week in Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee reviews Luigi's Mansion 3.
Now, I'm not one to nitpick (unless it's before 9 PM and I'm incapable of breathing in and out), but I'm concerned about the increasing dishonesty in high-level game releases. Look at this: the first Luigi's Mansion on the GameCube was about a mansion over which Luigi could reasonably claim ownership - "Luigi's Mansion"; perfect title. Luigi's Mansion 2 was still about mansions; they weren't strictly Luigi's, but he, at least, had more claim to them than Tom Clancy had over the last Ghost Recon game. But now, in Luigi's Mansion 3, Luigi doesn't own it and it's not even a fucking mansion; it's a high-rise hotel. A mansion is a residence; no one permanently resides in a luxury hotel except Russian oligarchs and former child stars with no financial savvy. Be careful, Nintendo; little white lies mount up, and you start believing your own bullshit, saying things like, "There are people who want to play Overwatch on the Switch!"
Anyway, welcome to "Still Waiting on My Copy of Death Stranding Week". No, that's the wrong attitude. After all, I liked Luigi's Mansion 2; it combined three of my favorite things in life: Luigi, nozzles, and sucking. And now, I can have all of that on something other than a 3DS, that has a screen larger than Calista Flockhart's left buttock. It's almost impressive, the way Nintendo franchises stubbornly stick to the same plot game in, game out; at least there's some stability in this crazy world, where we can take comfort knowing that Bowser will still be kidnapping Princess Peach even after civilization collapses and Nintendo's next console is a cardboard box with some finger puppets in it, but it does paint a sorry picture of pattern recognition skills among Mushroom Kingdom residents.
Luigi gets anonymously invited to an isolated luxury residence and doesn't immediately intuit that King Boo wants to put him in a painting, as was the case the last two times this happened; no, he merrily shows up with his pussy patrol: three Toads, his brother Mario, and that girl Mario seems to like but Luigi doesn't really know how to act around, and he's pretty sure she drank his last Stella, but he didn't bring it up, and now he's just quietly stewing in passive-aggressive resentment because he's afraid of seeming uptight. Shortly--STONE THE CROWS! Turns out the hotel's haunted, and Luigi must rescue everyone else by systematically ascending the tower with his nozzle hanging out so he can suck off all the ghosts, gibbering with Italian-accented fear the whole way.
Why? By this point, he's sucked off more ghosts than your mother at a Call of Duty fan convention, and it's not like they're much of a threat to him, since they've apparently been informed that there's a casting director in the audience and they have to milk the fuck out of their performance before they can even try to attack. Plus, one of Luigi's new abilities is that he can pound ghosts into the floor while he's sucking them off, and while the direction he pounds them in you don't so much control as offer casual suggestions for, he can fairly reliably pound any ghost standing behind you, and this cancels out just about the only way standard ghosts have of threatening you: creeping up and taking you in the rear while you're busy sucking off their friends.
Besides that, only two other things threaten Luigi: new traps and boss monsters in the two minutes before you figure out which of your four or five nozzle settings is the one you're supposed to be using this time, and Luigi's chronic inability to keep a firmer grip on important objects just as the game is wondering if it needs to pad the current level out by 20 or 30 minutes. Have you considered taking off the white gloves, Luigi? I mean, what's with those, anyway? You Princess Peach's sommelier now?
See, the goal of each floor is to find the elevator button for the next floor, and more often than not, Luigi finds it, then gets spooked by the boss of the floor and drops it again. If only he had some kind of high-powered suction device close to hand to avoid situations like this, but whatever; you have to introduce the boss somehow. But then, on one level, I suck off the boss, get the button back to the elevator, and a fucking cat steals it, and I'm obliged to backtrack through the level and the previous one, looking for where the cat hid, so it can run off and hide somewhere else! This continues until the game's invisible "Let's Fuck the Player About!" Meter is filled, and the cat arbitrarily fights you instead of hiding again. "What was that, Yahtzee?" I said, this whole cat business feels like arbitrarily fucking the player about to pad out the run-time, Nintendo. "Well, we can't have that. I know! Let's have it happen a second time, changing nothing; that way, it will be recurringly fucking the player about!"
Luigi's Mansion 3's problem is that it has simultaneously too many and not enough ideas; smug look to camera, launch into explanation. There are 15 floors that each have a unique boss fight, which sounds like a lot, but they're all a bit pokey - some of them are just "boss fight, three feet of corridor, and a vending machine" - so some of these unique bosses come and go so quickly, it's almost a waste of creativity. But meanwhile, on the gameplay side of things, all of Luigi's mechanics are unlocked by about Level 3, and the gameplay doesn't evolve at all after that; it's always just going through the same motions: suck, blow, flashlight, UV light, plunger, do that weird farty bounce thing, and if all else fails, spawn Luigi's doppelganger and spit-roast the situation from both ends.
Then about halfway through, a scrotum of possibility gets dangled before our eyes in the form of a "vacuum cleaner upgrade" - which we have to backtrack through a previous level to get, natch - but after that particular round of arbitrary fucking about, turns out it's an upgrade to use precisely once, in one room, to open one door. Why didn't you just make it a fucking key hunt? "Oh, but we already have so many key hunts, Yahtzee; we'd hate people to think we're one-note." Some RPG mechanics wouldn't have gone amiss, some power upgrades for the vacuum, or perhaps new unicorn stickers to put on the backpack; you know, give us something to spend all this fucking money on!
If you're wondering why everyone in this hotel is dead and a ghost, it might be because the builders used sacks of money and gold instead of things like plumbing and wall insulation; you are constantly showered with cash as you systematically hoover up the furniture. The game is like an incredibly socially-awkward billionaire; whenever it's not sure how to respond to your interactions, it flings money and hopes you go away. "Oh, you figured out how to pull a painting off the wall? Here's $17,000 in used bills." Sucking up money is closer to the primary gameplay loop than sucking off ghosts, so why isn't there anything to fucking spend it on?! Tell a lie; you can buy extra lives, or maps to hidden collectibles that only show you the room they're in, and most levels have small numbers of rooms, so you could just be systematic and not need them at all. And what do you get for finding all the hidden collectibles, you ask? A thing pops up saying, "You found all the hidden collectibles!", and then I guess you print it off for your mum to stick to the fridge.
I wouldn't say I hated Luigi's Mansion 3; it just felt kind of routine and kind of hollow, and I'll probably never think about it again unless the power goes down and I really need a wank. "So what you're saying, Yahtzee, is that this game about clearing rooms with a vacuum cleaner felt like a bit of a chore?" (...) Well, I've got bugger-all else for the closing gag!
- Better faster stronger cleaner: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Maybe Luigi could spend some of that money getting urgent treatment for narcolepsy
- Doing the electrical wiring with gold might have made sense actually