Luigi’s Mansion 3 for the Nintendo Switch is exactly that: the third entry into the bizarre Nintendo series where brother Luigi is left to scour haunted locations in search of missing friends. It’s a game where you use a vacuum cleaner (The Poltergust 3000, mind you) to suck up ghosts, sort of like a far less confident Ghostbuster.

You might want to hold off on firing that real estate agent, though. This time around, Luigi may be in need of a better travel agent instead.

We spent some time with the game in a Nintendo backroom on the E3 show floor. The demo started off with a pretty cinematic experience – for a Mario game, anyway. Luigi, asleep on a bus, is joined by Toad, Peach, Mario, et. al. en route to some type of getaway trip. That’s when Polterpup, the ghost dog from Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, whisks back into Luigi’s life. Not-so-long story short, the gang arrive at a hotel, everybody goes missing, and thus begins Luigi's ascent up through a cartoonishly tall hotel, floor by floor.

That’s the story. But here’s what actually matters: this game has a sterling art direction that absolutely screams charm... probably even louder than Luigi. Developed by Next Level Games, developers of the previous 3DS entry and the Punch-Out!! revival on the Nintendo Wii, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is also probably not what you’re expecting if you played the other two games in the series.

Were you expecting a slightly updated, HD approximation of the other two games? In a certain light, sure, that’s what we’ve got here. But we’ve just seen this game through the light of Luigi’s new and improved flashlight, and now realize there is so much more to this game than just HD visuals.

New Abilities

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Luigi retains his old arsenal from the previous games. That is, he sucks things in, blows things away, and flashes stuff with a light. But now, Luigi can hop in the air by pressing the L and R buttons at the same time, and it seems like jumping will really come in handy. Even better is the new ability to swing ghosts hard against the ground (or into breakable objects) while you’re attempting to suck up and capture them, almost like a combo system.

Soon we were combo-ing ghosts all over the place with a satisfying suck and slam

Both are welcome additions, and although it took us a few minutes to get our bearings, soon we were combo-ing ghosts all over the place with a satisfying suck and slam, one-two punch. It feels nice and robust and makes your vacuum feel so much more powerful at all times as a result. Also new is the ability to conjure up a plunger that shoots out from your vacuum like a dart, sticking to whatever it lands on. Walk up to it and start sucking it up, and you’ve got a brand new way for Luigi to yank stuff off of objects. It’s a touch difficult to aim but satisfying as heck when you start pulling things with it.

The last new ability we saw is so important it’s blown up onto the 30-foot promotional banners for the game: say hello to “Gooiigi”, a green, mucus-like clone of Luigi that can be summoned by pressing down the right joystick. It’s basically just a second character model you can call out on command, except you’re able to walk through certain obstacles regular Luigi can’t, but while being extremely hindered by other things Luigi has no problem with (namely, doors and water).

Put another way, it’s a new way to create puzzles that put two of you in different places on the screen, but with alternate pros and cons. Clever!

The Levels

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We were told that broadly speaking, each level was a floor of the hotel, and each floor is set to be unique with its own ghost boss guarding each exit. All we could tell from what we played was that each door led to another little set-piece that plays out like an action-oriented puzzle. Sometimes we had to interact with the location as if it were an escape room that we had to try and solve, while other times we rolled up our sleeves and started bonking ghosts around the floor until none were left.

There are tiny, animated details just about everywhere you can perceive on the screen

If you take any one thing away from this preview, let it be this: the ghosts may be dead, but this game is alive. There are tiny, animated details just about everywhere you can perceive on the screen, as well as plenty of nooks and crannies where optional secrets could be had by the hand full. For those of you who were into seeking high scores, we suspect that aspect of the series is absolutely back in full force. We can’t even imagine being able to suck up all the coins and money that was available to us, though we're sure many of you will be spending a ton of time trying.

And even with all that goodness, the boss battles may have been the best of all; we played a jousting match with a medieval ghost who can be defeated with well-timed flashlight flashes and even better-timed plunger suctions. We won’t go into any more detail retelling how the encounter goes down, but we will say that the vibes from boss battles in this game are absolutely upped from the previous two. It was incredibly fun, and we can hardly wait to see how the other bosses will work.

Takeaway

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We came into the demo thinking Luigi’s Mansion 3 would be a great recommendation for fans of the series. We're now thinking this game is much closer to being a flagship holiday title for Nintendo in the same vein as any of their proudest works.

You do not need to have played the first two titles to appreciate how fluid and entertaining this game is. In fact, while it’s not reinventing the wheel, there might be as big of a jump in scope between the second and third game as there was between the short first game and its robust 3DS sequel. There is an entire multiplayer component we didn’t get to play, tons of new abilities, and just a massive level of polish that was obvious even just inside this demo.

We bet Luigi won’t be able to sleep after this adventure. We suggest you also don’t sleep on this game. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is slated to release later this year.