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Games reviews: Luigi’s Mansion 3

Jeepers: Mario’s brother must rescue his pals from a haunted mansion

THE BIG RELEASE

Luigi’s Mansion 3

(NS) ★★★★✩

THE puppy-eyed brother of everybody’s favourite jumping plumber doesn’t get much of the limelight. But when he does he certainly makes the most of it — and that’s what he does here in a gorgeous-looking, 2D adventure.

Despite the occasional jump scare and the odd spider, this latest instalment in the oddball franchise won’t give you the willies. The only thing scary about this game is Luigi’s top-lip caterpillar. In fact, the entire game plays out like an episode of Scooby-Doo, where you’ll laugh at the protagonists getting scared by silly things (and blimey does Luigi get scared by silly things).

The goofball premise sees Luigi and his pet ghost dog, Polterpup, as well as Mario, Princess Peach and a bunch of Toads, invited to a high-rise hotel that’s less the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, more The Headland in Roald Dahl’s The Witches. In the middle of the night, Luigi awakens to find that the chance vacation was actually a trap by evil King Boo to capture Luigi’s friends and imprison them in portraits. Because what tormentor doesn’t want to trap people in paintings?

Across a series of themed floors, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt to a pirate’s treasure trove, you’ll encounter numerous ghosts, environmental puzzles and boss battles. You’re aiming to round-up King Boo’s bevy of ghosts in a process echoing Ghostbusters — shine a light on them to hold them still and then suck them up into a vacuum while pulling in the opposite direction of their escape as if you’re reeling in a fish. The stronger the ghost, the harder it is to hoover them up but you can also smash them about a room with a super-cool animated effect that makes you feel like you’re the calm in the eye of a storm, as all around, ectoplasm and hotel furniture explodes in majestic plumes.

Extra abilities like Poltergust, which keeps ghosts at bay, and a plunger strike that sticks to surfaces that can then be sucked free, add extra combat weight.

However, the best feature by far is the gunky Gooigi — a Luigi clone made entirely of green goo who, while only having a handful of hit points, can squeeze in-between grates and bars to access different areas and solve puzzles. He also doubles as a second player, with a friend able to take control at any time in co-op.

There are some small gripes. The motion-controls-enabled aim is way more hassle than it’s worth and some puzzles veer too far toward the pre-school-friendly (especially for a game with a seven-plus age certificate). The main campaign also only lasts 15 hours — though there is a ton of post-game content, with collectibles hidden away in pretty much every room and an online multiplayer mode for up to eight players. Yes, it is still an inferior franchise to the likes of Mario and Zelda but Luigi is gaining on them, even if he is scared to do so.

The verdict

Amazing animation and destructible scenery elevate an enjoyable puzzle-rich, ghost-hunting cartoony adventure.

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