Luigi is his name, and busting ghosts is his game – literally. While Luigi has starred in other titles, it’s his stammering and shrieking through the frights of a haunted mansion that most Nintendo fans think of. The original Luigi’s Mansion was an underappreciated gem upon its release on the GameCube. But like fine wine, it only managed to get better in the eyes of Nintendo fans with time. Eventually, it became something of a cult classic among Mario fans, which led to a stellar sequel – Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon on the Nintendo 3DS.
After years of waiting, we have finally been treated to a third outing on the Nintendo Switch. Many elements within Luigi’s Mansion 3 make the game special. However, there’s one new feature that separates this game from the rest of the pack in the Nintendo Switch library – co-op.
A choice co-op experience
You might be thinking: “What are you talking about? Several first-party Switch games prominently feature co-op play.” And, of course, you’d be right. But Luigi’s Mansion 3 does it best. Better yet, it does co-op right.
I’m a fan of classic couch co-op play. I enjoy socializing with a buddy or my son in person while playing a game together. And I’ve long harped on Nintendo’s failure to execute co-op in an efficient, fun, and engaging way for both players.
Leave it to Luigi, though, to give proper focus and importance to the role of player 2. Gooigi is rapidly climbing the popularity ranks as a newly introduced Nintendo character (slimeball?). Who knows if he’s truly a sentient free thinker or not. But he manages to get the job done when Luigi can’t. And his partnership with Luigi takes on a deeper meaning when he is controlled by an entirely different player.
Co-op with a side of ruptured blood vessels
The largest source of pain and agony that has plagued co-op play in Nintendo games is design structures that allow the two (or more) players to stifle each other – usually by accident. Take New Super Mario Bros. U for example. Progression doesn’t hinge on all players making it to the end of a level. Only one player must finish. However, in a co-op (emphasis on cooperation) environment, players can bump into each, making already-difficult platforming areas even more tricky. To add more fuel to the fire, a player can mistakenly kick a turtle shell in the wrong direction or jump too far ahead, effectively screwing the player falling behind.
In Yoshi’s Crafted World, there is no justification for Yoshis to be capable of accidentally eating each other! One might be able to argue that one Yoshi can use the other Yoshi as a weapon, true. But it’s not necessary and can cause bickering between players when one accidentally devours the other time and time again. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a phenomenal game only made more difficult and equally frustrating when co-op is added to the mix. Again, only one player is required to finish, but fast-moving platforming areas prove difficult to do if both players aren’t in sync with one another.
I think I’ve sufficiently made my point. Luigi’s Mansion 3 doesn’t allow opportunities for players to trip each other up. In fact, if one player has a ghost trapped in his vortex, it only aids the situation if the other player grabs on to the ghost as well. Also, Luigi is the only one capable of opening doors, so there is never any confusion caused by two players trying to go separate ways. Furthermore, Gooigi can effectively teleport to Luigi at will. As Gooigi, my five-year-old son struggled in one particular area that required us to swing across a gap on a vine. This teleportation benefit came in very handy then!
The star factor
Everyone likes to be the star or have a moment to shine. True co-op makes this possible. Co-op games have a history of simply adding a second, third, or fourth avatar to the game without creating any features to encourage the players to, you know, cooperate. All players involved are simply on the same ride, but together. But Luigi’s Mansion 3 puts the ball in Gooigi’s court on several occasions. He’s not just a large Luigi jello mold to fill in for a second player. Gooigi has a purpose. The game acknowledges him both as part of the story and as part of the team.
There are many areas in Luigi’s Mansion 3 that only Gooigi can access – most of which are required for story progression. When playing solo, this simply requires the player to switch from controlling Luigi to taking the wheel behind Gooigi. But in co-op, the second player now has the opportunity to accomplish tasks for the duo. Likewise, Luigi doesn’t melt at the touch of water like his slimy counterpart, so he can access pathways that Gooigi can’t.
Playing through Luigi’s Mansion 3 with a buddy lives up to the very definition of co-op play. It’s rewarding, both players have fun, and no friendships are damaged. Let’s hope Nintendo takes note not only of the commercial success of Luigi’s Mansion 3, but also of the elements that make it so damn likable. And give us a blasted Gooigi amiibo!