A special thank you to Nintendo Uk who sent us this game to review.
Even though Nintendo has released the Nintendo Switch and it appears to be thriving, they haven’t forgotten about its much smaller ancestor, the Nintendo 3DS. Many of the games being announced for the system, however, appear to be remakes such as the Mario & Luigi games and Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn. One such title is Luigi’s Mansion 3D, a remake of the GameCube launch title, and while many lamented it not being on Switch I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. After all the original vision of the game back on the GameCube was to have it in stereoscopic 3D. So, 17 years later, has Luigi’s Mansion finally fulfilled this goal or was the price for 3D just too costly? Let’s find out.
Storywise the plot is identical to the original in every way. The Mario brothers win a mansion in a contest they didn’t enter. After Mario goes to investigate and never returns it is up to Luigi to find his brother and discover the secret of the mansion. A crazy scientist named Professor E.Gadd gives him the Poltergust 3000 and sends Luigi on a ghostbusting adventure into the mansion to capture all the various portrait ghosts and stop the evil King Boo.
The story is still as charming as it was back then and also just as short when you know what you are doing. There is a tiny bit of new plot to justify Gooigi and the new two-player mode but it only amounts to one new scene and that is it. You can also easily read up on the captured portrait ghosts thanks to the touch-screen which adds a little bit more background to each one, which is nice.
The cutscenes in this remake aren’t nearly as fluid as the original GameCube version due to the weaker hardware and there are now some loading screens between scenes but overall the 3DS remake does a good job of translating the story and lore to 3DS.
I’m going to cover presentation first because I don’t have as much to say about it as I do the gameplay. Being on a weaker device meant that the graphics quality and various effects had to be reduced. You no longer see individual dust particles in the mansion and a lot of the lighting effects are gone, making the game look a lot brighter than the original.
With that said, I much prefer the models in this version of the game. Yes, the ghosts are not as translucent but I feel that Luigi and E.Gadd are higher quality. Not from a polygon count but simply from a design standpoint. There was always something bizarre about the original Luigi model that made the game feel a bit aged in hindsight but this new one feels much more modern.
The music and sound design is pretty much the same. It is, of course, lower quality due to the hardware but all the same tracks, or lack thereof in some places, gave me the same feeling here as they did in the original. I should probably also mention the 3D effect. Ever since I got a New 3DS I tend no to play with the 3D on as my enjoyment of it has dwindled but I used it a bit here and I must say that the game looks very good in 3D. It’s clear that the developers really wanted to get the 3D to feel just right and I would say they nailed it.
Overall I think the presentation is not too hampered by the weaker system.
Now, this is something I have some issue with. The presentation is simply a visual and audio preference and it doesn’t impact the core of the game, it’s gameplay, at all. But controls do and man, I do not like the controls in this game. All of Luigi’s most basic movement is fine. Walking, strafing, turning around and interacting with objects. In fact, even using the flashlight and Poltergust is fine in the most basic scenarios. But as soon as you add a little verticality into the mix things become troublesome.
The 3DS lacks a right analogue stick, only having the stub on the New 3DS which doesn’t really help much here, and without this stick, the game feels very hampered. Luigi can only vacuum and use the light in the direction he is facing unless the B button is held down. Doing so swaps the circle pad from being about moving Luigi to moving the Poltergust which allows the player to aim up and down. The problem here is that it doesn’t feel natural and is unnecessarily hectic later down the line.
A perfect example of this simply comes from trying to flash an enemy behind you with the flashlight. It’s not nearly as simple as it should be and I found myself awkwardly trying to spin around, then holding down B and trying to frantically aim in the right direction before the ghost either got away or attacked me. While I got used to it, even by the end of the game it still felt awkward and I never felt like it was my fault. It always felt like an issue with the controls.
Now, this game is a remake and not a port and because of this many aspects were fine-tuned and new features like the boss-rush and the aforementioned two player mode were added. Some of these features, particularly those on the bottom screen, were great (even if the map trivialised the fake door idea). However other areas that needed improving desperately simply were not touched and the biggest issue of this was saving.
Being on a handheld means that stopping and starting the game is more frequent however the only option for players is to save at the various Toads, E.Gadd’s lab, or save by catching a ghost. The lack of even a soft-save ended up leading to annoying occasions where I would have to stop playing and leave the system on as I was not close to a save point. Keeping the old save system also meant that certain oversights were left in, such as the more infamous Boo reward where the game saves before you pick up your reward for catching all the Boo. If you then die or stop playing before saving again (bear in mind you just saved) then you are permanently locked out of getting one of the rarest treasures in the game. It’s frustrating knowing that you got 100% of the collectables and had your reward snatched away from you.
There are also some poor design choices in the game that simply were not fixed for the remake. Too much of the final act of the game is spent walking from the top of the mansion to the bottom and then back again with nothing to do as all the regular enemies no longer spawn. It just becomes boring.
While these are all issues of the original they were issues that impacted the games enjoyment and a remake was the perfect chance to fix them. The fact that they did not, along with the worse control scheme, makes it hard to justify this game over the original.
Luigi’s Mansion is a fan favourite GameCube title and Luigi’s Mansion 3D captures a lot of that same charm. If you never played the original title then this is by far the easiest way to experience a classic, plus everything is included and a little more. All the charm is still present and I enjoyed playing through this game again. With that said. If you had a choice between this remake and the original then I would always recommend the original. This is not a case like Majora’s Mask and it’s remake, where I can see an argument for either version as the definitive title. I can’t see that here. The controls on 3DS do their best but the lack of a right stick (and even the lack of analogue triggers) weakens the gameplay overall, leading to a more enjoyable experience in the original.
If you never played the GameCube classic and wanted to then this is a good remake for you but if you have the option to play either or then I can’t recommend Luigi’s revisit to the iconic mansion over the original experience.