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‘Kirby: Planet Robobot’ – Annihilation Has Never Been So Cute



While Triple Deluxe and Return to Dreamland mastered and polished the Kirby formula, both felt a little uncreative. They were extremely fun and cute, but they lacked a certain element  necessary in differentiating them from rest of the series. That element being an awesome, all powerful Kirby mech. Fortunately, Kirby: Planet Robobot does have one of those. It’s also one of the best Kirby titles in years.

It does everything a Kirby game should, then it goes so much further. It frames around the set formula and decides against adding to it, for fear of damaging it in any way. Instead, it constructs mechanics from the ground up, resulting in one of the most unique Kirby games of the past decade. Planet Robobot starts with the familiar — running, jumping, eating enemies, and using their powers — then gradually ramps up the mechanics. This constant and smooth pace is Planet Robobot’s strong suit. Each level surrounds its own element. You’ll be swimming in a chemical plant one moment, then flying in a robot jet not ten minutes later. It’s brisk, it’s seamless, and it’ll keep you playing for hours. Because of it, playing Planet Robobot is one of the most addicting games on the 3ds.

The story, much like everything else in the game, surrounds a robotic motif. An alien race has invaded Kirby’s home world of Popstar. They’ve defeated both Dedede and Metaknight with ease and have obvious intentions of overrunning the planet. The interesting part is: they technically already have. Dreamland is now mechanized, and Kirby has to return it to its regular, peaceful self. Maybe it’s not the most original story, but it provides a convenient frame for level design and mechanics (or perhaps it’s the other way around).

Kirby being attacked by an alien during their siege on Popstar. 

All levels are now themed after some sort of mechanical object — blender, saw, etc. The standard Kirby biomes — forest, desert, ocean — are still here, but they’ve all been mechanically revamped. The forest is a lumber yard, the desert an oil mine, and the ocean a ship harbour. Even the enemies can’t escape from mechanization and while most of them won’t receive an actual upgrade in strength, all of them look uncharacteristically threatening. This robotic makeover is much more interesting to look at than Triple Deluxe’s style — even if both games share the exact same engine. It’s an endearing aesthetical flourish that helps Planet Robobot feel comparatively unique.

Though, unlike its aesthetic, Planet Robobot’s soundtrack doesn’t upgrade with the change in the theming. Instead of the jumpy, exciting music usually found in Kirby games, most of these songs are filled with monotones noises resembling mechanical operations — lots of beeps, boops, and other generally annoying sounds. I even turned the volume off when the music became aggravating. Of Course, there are a few tracks that still had my foot tapping throughout — the opening stage and the final boss’ themes especially — but, more often than not, the music was a disappointment for a long time Kirby fan.

But, a lackluster soundtrack doesn’t change the fact that insanely destructive mech suits are ridiculously awesome. The Robobot Armor is seriously empowering. There’s not much better than bustling your way through levels destroying everything in your path. Though, it gives as much as it takes. Kirby may be able to annihilate his foes when wearing the armor, but he loses access to half his powers and his ability to fly, meaning that falling in a pit is absolute death. The powers that he can use when wearing the Robobot armor have been enhanced to better match the robot theming. For example, cutter — normally a simple, boomerang-like power — allows the Robobot armor to duel wield lumber saws that detach and destroy anything in front of them. It’s a great idea and leaves a lot more to experiment with when murdering your enemies.

Kirby using the cutter ability in the Robobot Armor

But, the Robobot armor’s destructive capabilities aren’t its best function. The freedom it allows is what keeps me in love with it. Often times, the Robobot armor will be tucked away in a hidden corner of a level. If you find it, there you go, you get the suit for the rest of the level. You’re rewarded for exploring with an all-powerful robot suit. But, if you miss it — or just ignore it — a lot of the time you’ll be able to finish the level as regular ol’ Kirby. This adds an extra level of strategy — do you want to tank through the level with awesome power? Or play it safe and use Kirby’s flight to avoid most obstacles?

The real treat here is the lack of circumstance. The Hypernova and Super Abilities — from Triple Deluxe and Return to Dreamland respectively — had so much pomp and circumstance surrounding them that they felt comparatively forced, and therefore restricting. For example, both of these as well as the Robobot Armor use a cut-scene to introduce its general concepts. The difference being that Hypernova and the Super Abilities show this cut-scene every time you use them. While the Robobot Armor’s cut-scene was only shown twice, and one was in an optional level. Comparing it to the Mario series, the Robobot Armor is more Yoshi and less mega mushroom.

The cut-scene that plays when first obtaining the Robobot Armor

Planet Robobot — continuing the tradition set by Triple Deluxe — has a handful of extra modes to toy around with. My least favorite of these being Team Kirby Clash. Similar to Triple Deluxe Kirby fighting mode, this mini-game allows you to play alongside friends — or just computers — to fight a boss. You can choose from four classes: mage, healer, knight, and sledger — the equivalents to the beam, docter, sword, and hammer abilities. The class you choose will gain experience after every fight, eventually leveling up and boosting some stats, all classic RPG territory. But, I didn’t even care enough to level my class to the maximum of ten. I had beaten all of the bosses before doing so, meaning there was no reason to continue playing. It feels like a wasted slot for what could’ve been an interesting distraction.

And speaking of interesting distractions, the game’s other main mode — Kirby: 3D Rumble — is relatively decent, if not only because the novelty of Kirby in 3D. Basically, you inhale enemies and spit them out in standard Kirby fashion. The main point is to rack up combos as quickly as possible. It’s only 3 levels long and designed in a boring grid-like fashion, but those 3 levels are generally enjoyable. Really, this mode just shows what a full 3D Kirby game could be like. Add a greater variety of enemies, some powers, and actual level design and this could be a full retail game. But, as it stands, Kirby: 3D Rumble feels more like a taste test.

One of Kirby: 3D Rumble’s first levels

Planet Robobot’s main story is fantastic. Wrecking shop with the Robobot Armor is extremely fun, and actually having the choice to use it or not is refreshing. It’s dragged down a bit by its lesser modes, but if you like cutesy graphics and easy gameplay, than you’ll love this game. Coincidentally, if you like mindless destruction using an all powerful robotic suit, you’ll also love this game. It’s a win-win!

Ricardo Rodriguez may have a near crippling addiction to video games, but at least he can pull himself away long enough to write something about them. His slowly deteriorating corneas won’t stop him from following his passion, and he’s got a semi-adequate haircut to boot! If you can’t find him withering away in front of a game store at five in the morning, he’s either writing for Goomba Stomp or on his blog

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Game Reviews

‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ Multiplayer Offers Classic Gameplay with a Couple of Twists

Love it or hate it, ‘Modern Warfare’ multiplayer is back and as nostalgic as ever, with a few twists.



Call of Duty Multiplayer

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare often gets a bad rap as a formulaic franchise, especially when it comes to multiplayer. From the original Modern Warfare to more recent titles like WW2, the experience has often felt like a fresh coat of paint on an old, yet addicting, model.

This approach is not always a bad thing though. For fans of the series, the nostalgia and consistency is often the main selling point, and they are always ready to bring the same skills back into a new title’s running and gunning action.

So when Infinity Ward announced that the campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare would focus on revolutionizing the franchise with realistic gameplay, no one was really sure what to expect. Naturally, fans were eager to see how this new combat and action would translate to a multiplayer experience but also wary of whether a radical change would ruin the experience they craved.

Well—love it or hate it—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer is back and just as nostalgic and familiar as ever, although the update brings a couple of new twists. While it’s light years away from perfect, this newest installment in the franchise still offers up classic gameplay with a couple of interesting alterations. For longtime fans, these changes might be positive or negative, but Infinity Ward at least deserves some credit for trying.

Getting tactical

To put it simply, the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer gameplay leans more towards what some would call a tactical, cover-based style of combat. In theory, this sounds like a fairly fresh approach to the run and gun style of the past. This new style forces teams to work together to slowly climb up the map, holding various chokeholds while pushing up on enemy positions.

With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare taking a more realistic approach to combat, it’s natural the multiplayer strategies will change as well. Like the campaign, guns feel more realistic and powerful, resulting in quicker kills and more damage taken. Combined with the new “mount” cover system, this often means that players get mowed down pretty quickly.

But—full disclosure—this new multiplayer gameplay generally means that the game rewards staying in one place for a majority of a match. For lack of a better word, camping. While past COD games placed a heavy emphasis on speed and movement, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare wants players to find a strong, defensible position and hold it.

Modern Warfare Multiplayer

Sure, running and gunning still have a place in Modern Warfare, but it’s definitely not as functional as it has been in the past. Often times, it means just blindly stumbling into the same quick death and missing out on those killstreaks. While not perfect—and a little unbalanced—switching the style up is an interesting move that could be successful with future updates, although no promises.

There’s no list like the quick playlist

It should come as no surprise that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer’s best quality is its Quick Play maps. While the gameplay has shifted to a certain extent, this mode still is a grab-bag of the old nostalgic favorites that pretty much sum up the past decade or more of Call of Duty online. This option has all the old favorites—the traditional Team Deathmatch, Control, and Kill Confirmed—plus a few new additions.

For most COD veterans, these modes are the bread-and-butter of the franchise, and Infinity Ward has really boiled FPS fun down to a science. It’s that perfect video game balance of being both incredibly frustrating and insanely addicting at the same time, sucking players into a cycle of “yeah, okay, one more game.” The lobby keeps the matches coming, the ranks keep the unlocks rolling, and the stats make it all feel worthwhile.

No trouble with doubles

The newest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer element, Gunfight, is absolutely a highlight of the experience. In this new mode, two teams of two duke it out in a close arena-style, last-team-standing match. Every player starts with the same gun and class and spawns in identical positions, and the first team to six wins takes the match. It’s a great example of leveling the playing field and letting the most skilled team win, and it is absolutely intense.

Like the rest of the gameplay, this mode seems to reward patience and teamwork. While running headfirst into danger is always an option, staying back and letting the enemy make the first move seems to be the best tactic and leads to the highest success rate.

While playing with a friend is always the best way to go, Gunfight is still an intense and fast-paced mode with a random partner. Yeah, it can be frustrating at times if players are paired with inexperienced or uncooperative teammates, but Infinity Ward seems to understand matchmaking fairly well.

Not all is perfect

Trying to keep up with other franchises, one of the major selling points for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer was the introduction of the new modes Special Ops and Ground War. While these ideas work on paper, they don’t exactly play out in practice.

Special Ops, the newest coop mode, feels a lot like Infinity Ward’s answer to the social shooter “Strikes” of games like Destiny 2. In teams of 4, players must work together to battle through waves of enemy bots and bosses to achieve different mission objectives and unlock more of the “story” (sort-of). In theory, it sounds awesome, but it’s mind-numbingly awful in execution.

In Special Ops, every objective is incredibly far apart, enemy bots feel both endless and worthless, and the incentive to keep continuing is nonexistent. Unlike Destiny 2 “Strikes,” there is no real coherent narrative that moves players from one objective to the next. Instead, it’s just cookie-cutter “shoot this character” or “stand by this area” quests that feel like huge wastes of time. Combine that with a large empty map and boring enemies, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Modern Warfare Multiplayer

Similarly, Ground War—while a little more interesting—is just as much of a swing-and-a-miss. Taking a few pages out of the Battlefield franchise’s playbook, this mode has 32-man teams and vehicles fighting for control of strategic positions. Again, great in theory, but terrible in execution.

With this Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer game type, it isn’t that everything works poorly. It just doesn’t really sync up into a coherent experience. Ground War plays out exactly as one would expect with vehicles and a larger map, but it still somehow devolves into a convoluted mess of hallways shooting and rapid, almost random deaths. Simply put, its biggest issue is just an incompatibility between the Call of Duty and Battlefield models. The combat just does not feel well-suited to the style of gameplay and the mode just lacks the polish and balance of the Battlefield games.

Where’s the royale?

While many may still disagree, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer feels like it needs a Battle Royal mode to round the whole experience out. As always, multiplayer quickplay is fun for a time, but having something else to break up the repetitive team deathmatch routine would be a welcome addition.

Infinity Ward could even try to mix their experience up a little bit by making a duos Gunfight-style mode the highlight of their BR offering. While single-player is probably the simplest way to play, adding an element of cooperation might make for an interesting and fresh experience.

Rumor has it that this multiplayer mode is in the works and coming in a later update, and it feels like a natural fit. The way that guns are upgraded in the class menu makes finding weapon parts a logical next step. Hopefully, this mode can revitalize the player base of Call of Duty once the holidays roll around.

More of the same

Overall, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer is a slight variation of the traditional Quick Play-style gameplay that the franchise is known for, and that’s not always a bad thing. For diehard fans of the franchise, it’s the same old Modern Warfare package with a fresh coat of paint. Sure, the gunplay and combat changes do take a while to get used to, but after a few hours of mindlessly running through maps, players should be well on their way to 20 kill games.  

For those looking for a fairly basic Call of Duty multiplayer experience with some slight gameplay tweaks, this one is for you. But if you want something new and revolutionary, take a different route.

Check out our review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s campaign mode.

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Game Reviews

‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ Campaign: Finally Shooting in the Right Direction



Modern Warfare campaign

Let’s face it, not many people buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare titles for the story anymore. With the dominance of the multiplayer modes, it’s almost like the campaign has become a tacked-on bonus to play if there is ever a problem with the WiFi connection.

A lot of that has to do with the narrative direction of the franchise—it has felt downright cookie-cutter in the past. Every year, COD offers the same old thing. Some generic serviceman is sent to a war-torn 3rd world country to save the free world from a random insurgent leader, military dictator, or rebel group. Sprinkle in some nuclear launch codes, chemical weapons, and futuristic military technology, and there’s the go-to formula for the series.  

With that said, imagine everyone’s surprise when Infinity Ward announced that they were reimagining the Modern Warfare franchise by rebooting its defining title. To establish this entry as a turning point, their new vision for the game would be bold, unapologetic, gritty, and realistic. By moving in this new and unexplored direction, the veteran developer believed that this was THE opportunity to create a new title that could change the landscape of AAA narratives forever.

So how did they do with this fresh direction for the Modern Warfare campaign? Actually, surprisingly well given the franchise’s history of forgettable stories and lackluster single-player experiences. The new 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaign is actually an interesting and inventive take on the series and sets the table for some killer opportunities for future success if handled correctly. While it’s not without a few missteps along the way, overall Infinity Ward delivers on their promise and serves up a unique war experience unlike any in recent memory.

Finally, a story worth playing

Taking place in fictional Urzikstan, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s campaign puts players in the tough moral situations of war, asking them to consider what makes a “righteous” cause, an enemy combatant, or a war crime. Initially, the story seemed to follow the traditional COD trajectory, as players start as a CIA ghost tasked with finding a stolen shipment of chemical gas, but the story takes a quick turn into uncharted territory. This usually translates to showing gamers a glimpse of the much darker world of the present day, having players respond to a major terror attack, protect a stormed embassy, or stalk terrorist ringleaders through tunnel mazes.

Sure, these plot devices may feel a bit similar to past campaigns, but it’s Modern Warfare’s murkier presentation that elevates these elements to new heights. Instead of having the feeling of mowing down hundreds of faceless, generic computer bots to advance to the next mission, there is a weight to the combat and atmosphere that adds a certain gravity to the narrative. It could be because of the new focus on characters or just the general atmosphere, but this new aesthetic goes a long way in creating a more immersive Modern Warfare campaign experience.

That being said, while the campaign is solid, it’s no Black Hawk Down or Homeland. The story arc of the main characters, Alex and Kyle, play out far too abruptly and lack the nuance of deep development. It almost feels like a few things were cut for time from the original script or just got lost in translation to favor gameplay. As a result, some of the larger “critical” points about terrorism and morality fall a little flat as the story progresses. Sure, Infinity Ward deserves some credit for ambitiously trying to make some deep statements in video game form, no small feat for a AAA dev, but these complex issues require complex stories to flesh them out and do them justice.

Mostly killer, a little filler

What really sets this title apart from past entries is its willingness to experiment with level design, making for some really unique gameplay moments. Of course, the campaign has all the COD staples—the generic sniper mission, the protect the base objectives, etc, etc. But it’s the new stuff that creates some excitement for the future of the franchise.

Most memorable of these Modern Warfare campaign levels were the missions involving nighttime raids on suspected terrorist cells. As players slowly move from floor to floor with their tactical squad, they are forced to quickly assess whether characters are enemies or civilians. When corners are quickly turned, some of the people react in fear, some pull weapons, and others make a long con to distract while danger lurks nearby. To make things even better, these whole missions take place in dead silence and through night vision, giving it a vaguely Outlast-ey feel. Hopefully, Infinity Ward will be brave enough to bring more of these types of levels into the future of the series.

Modern Warfare campaign

Also, the Modern Warfare campaign seems to be less afraid of letting players choose their own path through the mission. Varying weapon types are available from the get-go and objectives can often be addressed in multiple ways, giving players more freedom. While the narrative doesn’t exactly feel non-linear (although that would have been even more interesting), it certainly opens up possibilities for a little more replayability than previous campaigns.

The devil is in the details

There was a healthy skepticism when Infinity Ward first promised that the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaign would be gritty and realistic, but they truly lived up to their word. Civilians and enemies both drop at a similar rate, takedowns are visceral and brutal, and the subject matter of the game can be downright sickening. There are times that will actually have players think, “I’m too soft for war,” which is absolutely the feeling that Infinity Ward is going for.

To achieve this depth, all the assets and cinematics work well in tandem. The gunplay is visceral and realistic, giving some of the best FPS feelings in the current-gen. The cinematics is also awe-inspiring, literally light years away from the Uncanny Valley. To be quite honest, it actually makes one wish that there were more cinematics in the game. 

Finally shooting in the right direction

Although not a perfect game, the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaign might be one of the bigger surprises of the year in terms of expectations. With a franchise that has been running this long on such half-hearted narrative experiences, the stakes for the title were incredibly low. But Infinity Ward has delivered something worth playing that truly feels like the vision that they promised. Sure, the campaign is not without flaws, as it would be great to see a tighter story and even more diverse gameplay elements, but it is absolutely worth a play just to experience its better moments.

Even though the Modern Warfare campaign is no Game of the Year contender, it’s nice to know that the franchise is finally headed back in the right direction. Who knows? Maybe one day people will pick the game up for the campaign over the multiplayer, instead of vice-versa.

Speaking of multiplayer, check out our review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer mode.

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Game Reviews

‘Luigi’s Mansion 3′ Review: The Franchise is Movin’ On Up



No more living in the shadow of his more stalwart sibling — Luigi’s Mansion 3 has built its puzzle-solving, ghost-busting gameplay upon two solid foundations, and the result reaches fantastic new heights. With a host of new abilities, an incredible amount of interactivity in a gorgeous setting, and an army of undead hotel staff ready to be sucked up into the afterlife, this is easily the best entry in the franchise — and a culmination of what Nintendo and developer Next Level Games has learned since the original GameCube release.

Luigi's Mansion 3 lobby

While there will always be those who appreciate the more Gothic atmosphere of that first entry, it’s hard to argue the superiority of its basic action. Gameplay-wise, the original Luigi’s Mansion was a starter home, and Dark Moon is where the timid green plumber’s ghost-busting, drapery-sucking antics really settled down. By adding new abilities to the Poltergust, increased interactivity with the environments, and a multitude of secrets, Next Level Games created a blueprint that future entries in the series could build upon. Luigi’s Mansion 3 takes that schematic and runs wild with it, jam-packing their funhouse with a plethora of things to do and discover, and plenty of new ways to do it.

Fans of the franchise will no doubt remember exactly how to blind their foes (and disintegrate creepy-crawlies) with the blinding flash of the Strobulb, as well as obsessively comb every nook and cranny with the Dark Light, which can materialize hidden objects (and Boos) out of thin air. But while these holdovers are just as fun as ever, it’s the additions to Luigi’s repertoire that really take Luigi’s Mansion 3 on a private elevator to the penthouse. The best is Gooigi, a green jello doppelganger of the hero who has all the same abilities, but can also ooze through cage bars or spikes like the T-1000, and travel through pipes like…Mario and Luigi; like the Wicked Witch of the West, however, he will melt when exposed to water. Several wonderful puzzles and boss fights involve switching back and forth between the two controllable characters, and some even require them working in conjunction to combine their vacuum powers.

Luigi's Mansion 3 mummy

Also tons of fun is a suction cup projectile that conveniently has a rope attached for Luigi to yank on. Firing it at bulging pieces of luggage, electrical boxes, potted plants, garbage cans, bathroom stall doors, or any number of highlighted objects around the hotel allows Luigi to perform a smashing slam move that breaks ornaments apart and spills their loot. There are times when Luigi’s Mansion 3 feels like a hotel burglar simulation, as players run around destroying everything in sight, ransacking rooms for anything valuable — but the spree is certainly a blast. In addition to feeling great, these new abilities also force players to scrutinize rooms closer than ever before if they are to find every deviously hidden stash of gold or gems.

It’s sheer pleasure seeing how cleverly Next Level Games has layered puzzle upon puzzle in such luxuriously small spaces, daring players to experiment and think outside the box when it comes to how the Poltergust’s various powers are applied. It’s easy to turn on a bathroom faucet and receive a couple of coins in return, but perhaps this simple button prompt leads players to wonder what happens when other taps — ones that aren’t accessible by hand — are opened. So many puzzles require players to make logical leaps without any telegraphed clues, and that makes the process of discovery so much more satisfying. This is where Luigi’s Mansion 3 stands out most from its predecessors — the incredible amount of variety and interactivity to poke around in.

Luigi's Mansion 3 pirate cave

And unlike Dark Moon, players won’t be kicked out this time upon completing objectives. Completing a floor simply leaves Luigi where the battle began, free to go about his business and explore, or to move on to the next story beat. The seventeen floors blend seamlessly with each other via an elevator (in which Luigi is still controllable — a nice touch), allowing for the feeling that this is one continuous environment more than the multiple mansions of the last trip.

Each floor also is given a specific theme (an deadly overgrown garden, an ominous concert hall, a pirate-themed seafood restaurant, a peppy fitness gym, etc.), and is often presented as a maze of rooms which Luigi must work his way through in order to get to the boss. The more cartoonish vibe of Dark Moon is clearly the influence here, but these spaces are absolutely gorgeous, showcasing a tactile, diorama-ish look that will have players eager to see what inventive scenario comes next. What’s better is that they are also thoughtfully designed and stuffed with complementary amenities, artwork, and knick-knacks (often tailored to the theme of the floor, which only increases the visual variety) with which to manipulate.

Sure, every loose piece of cloth can be whisked away, each sheet of paper can be sent scattering in a blast of air, and no plant’s leaves can consider themselves safe from the mighty Poltergust-00, but a comprehensive physics system is where so much of the magic in Luigi’s Mansion 3 is made. This is introduced immediately in a benign opening sequence that features tumbling luggage and tippable chairs. As Luigi bumps into objects, they react appropriately; plates fall to the ground and shatter like they should, things with wheels can be rolled, loose carpeting can be furled. It isn’t long before knowledge of these principles comes into play, and certain puzzles begin to show how the ‘regular’ moves by themselves aren’t going to cut it. If something is made of glass, it’s likely breakable — one only need to figure out how to smash it.

Experimentation is the key, and one of the real joys of Luigi’s Mansion 3. With so many tools at one’s disposal, it’s only natural to test the boundaries of this physics system, but Next Level Games has risen impressively to the challenge. Unorthodox maneuvers are almost always rewarded, either by a cornucopia of cash, a well-earned gem, or even an achievement recognizing the outstanding industriousness. This validation goes the extra mile in making the gameplay feel gratifying, and encourages spending a lot of time in each room to prod at every corner.

More importantly, training players to think creatively prepares them for the combat challenges ahead, and for those whose primary aim is to to bust ghosts, be assured that there are plenty. While most of the standard enemies conform to the same six or seven types, they often are wielding accessories that complicate the fight. Disarming plays a big part of combat, as savvy ghosts know how to block that Strobulb flash, and swarms of these yammering poltergeists can easily overtake poor Luigi. To assist in this, the previously mentioned slam works well at flattening approaching opponents and reducing their health, while a jump of sorts creates a burst of air which knocks opponents backwards. As usual, this latter move is useful for more than meets the eye.

Luigi's Mansion 3 dance

There is much more visual variety to the abundance of bosses, and while it’s doubtful they will be the subjects of much fan fiction or lore (with a few exceptions), the goofy characterizations are more distinct this time around than the last, and provide some of the most memorable moments. These ghoulies aren’t to be slept on in the difficulty department either; more than one boss ghost will put the plumber in his place if players simply charge right in without thinking first. And while Luigi’s Mansion 3 is generous with healing hearts and semi-useful hints from Professor E. Gadd, these creatively epic battles ultimately rely on understanding the full range of what Luigi’s many abilities can do. Weaknesses are rarely just given away, especially later in the game, and it’s likely that many younger or inexperienced players will be glad of some of E. Gadd’s health-restoring shop items.

Regardless of any bumps in the night, Luigi’s Mansion 3 succeeds wonderfully in creating a bountiful playground out of a haunted hotel that is a pleasure to patronize. With the online play of the Scarescraper still manic fun, and the mini-games of ScreamPark as an enjoyable multiplayer diversion, players are likely to return for many, many lengthy stays. A couple tedious set pieces and one or two frustrating boss fights aside, this is a perfectly paced sandbox (especially on the Egyptian floor) teeming with fun ideas — a towering expansion on previous models that takes the franchise to the next level.

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