2001 was a true golden year of gaming but it also introduced us to Nintendo’s underrated Gamecube and one of their most experimental launch titles.
Luigi’s Mansion replaced a conventional platforming Super Mario Bros experience at launch. With the 3DS there was Super Mario 3D World, the N64 had the legendary Mario 64, and even the Wii U had Super Mario Bros. U.
While third party titles were of the highest caliber with classics like Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, and Star Wars Rogue Leader, Nintendo’s solo offering was unlike anything else they’d tried before and it was wonderful.
Finally, all these years on, it’s found its way back to the 3DS with new features and functionality. Has it aged as well as we remember it?
Maaaarrr iiii oooooo?
Full disclaimer, the original resides in my Top 20 all-time favourite games. To me, this was Nintendo at their creative best, willing to try new things, unafraid to take risks, really showing the lasting power and flexibility of the characters they created all those years ago.
I’m very happy to say that the 3DS not only honors the original but it enhances and expertly modernises it while really stoking the flames of nostalgia.
And yes, it has found the perfect home on Nintendo 3DS. As big of a fan of Switch as I am, as much as I love the system and want everything ever to be on there by yesterday lunchtime, Luigi’s Mansion most definitely fits and belongs on 3DS.
What do these new features tell us about Luigi’s Mansion 3? Here’s what we think…
The stereoscopic 3D, for example, is perfect. I know Nintendo have gradually dropped support on many titles – in many cases, confusingly so – but it has never looked better and it fits the franchise like a glove. The depth of field when moving along corridors, the way the flashlight stretches out to shine in your eyes, ghosts popping in and out of the scenery. Glorious.
In fact, Nintendo may have created a headache for themselves when it comes to Luigi’s Mansion 3 as it’s difficult to imagine playing these games without 3D again after the tremendous work on both Dark Moon and this latest port.
Another huge benefit is the addition of the second screen. The Gameboy Horror now lets you tap your way through the menus, having constant access to an isometric mini-map at all times, seeing what items you’ve collected, and even using the gyroscope for the camera to have free-roam view of the environment.
All this works wonderfully as Luigi’s Mansion tasks you with finding Mario who has gone missing in this spooky, abandoned old manor house. A mansion, by the way, which he won in a contest he never entered. Not sure I would have entered either, to be honest.
Fortunately, you don’t need to know anything about historical horror stories or how to secure cities. Instead, you need to shine lights on ghosties and suck them up in a vacuum. Thanks to Professor E.Gadd’s Poltergust 3000, you can store ghosts, send them back to the lab and examine them for weaknesses and strategies. And when you face the big bad bosses, you can even replay them for bonus points, achievements, and kicks.
And if it’s all getting a bit tough, you can even bring a buddy along for the ride with Co-operative multiplayer. Which works like a treat and is a mode you never knew you needed in Luigi’s Mansion until you try it. True, it’s not necessarily the toughest of games – until you try the Haunted Mansion New Game + of course – but it’s still a lot of fun to work with a buddy to clean up around the place.
The problems do start to creep in, though. And I have to say there’s something about the controls, no matter which combination you try, that feel constrained and generally off. That is, if you’re sporting a newer 3DS because the smaller C-Stick just doesn’t offer the freedom of movement the right analog on the Gamecube pad boasted.
The Circle Pad Pro is definitely preferable in this instance, so older 3DS owners certainly have that as a bonus over more recent models and it’s definitely a bonus over using the D-Pad which is your only other option. Doing that, of course, either forces you to stop Luigi dead in his tracks to turn around or tangles your arms for the most uncomfortable mish-mash of manoeuvrability you’ve ever seen.
At times, stunning and catching ghosts was borderline frustrating.
The graphical upgrades are also a bit of a mixed bag. Generally, this does look as good, if not slightly better than the Gamecube version due to upgraded textures and newer looking models. However, the frame rate definitely starts to chug along later into the game when you’re transitioning between rooms hunting boos and dealing with multiple enemies on screen at one time.
Some parts of the game also look slightly rougher and have had features noticeably stripped back on 3DS to improve performance levels, such as ghost transparency and floor tiling.
For the most part, though, Luigi’s Mansion is a great and welcome port on 3DS with many neat new features and additions to enhance and add longevity to the overall game. Part of me hopes we’ll get this and Dark Moon on Switch in a double pack at some stage, if only so I can get that true sense of control freedom again from the original, but after spending hours trudging through Luigi’s haunted house again, I could not ask for much more.
Even if you owned the original Gamecube game, seeing the game as originally intended in 3D is the perfect advert for Nintendo’s original vision for the handheld. Add to that the co-op possibilities, remade gallery, remastered soundtrack and upgraded visuals, its worth a double dip. Though the controls and performance issues do hold this port back from its true potential. A welcome reminder of why we should be very excited for Luigi’s Mansion 3 next year.
+ Luigi’s Mansion must be seen in 3D
+ Gallery mode remade for the better with more replay options
+ You never knew you needed Co-op until now
+ Nintendo at their peak creativity and charm
+ Improved visuals and remastered soundtrack
– Controls are a bit of a nightmare and don’t work as intended
– Performance issues with frame rate become noticeable later on
8.5 out of 10
Tested on 3DS
Copy received by publisher