12 March 2020
My wife and I purchased this game for my daughter this past Christmas, but she’s still young and it sat unplayed for a few months. It was okay though; if you’ve seen my Steam library, then you know I’m not one to judge. I had not played any other games in the series, but this new title already had a mountain of solid reviews since it released at the end of October. Still, I expected a relatively short, simple and colorful world for children, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for just how enjoyable it would turn out.
The game ramps you up slowly as you join Mario, Princess Peach and three Toads on a special vacation to a supposed world-class hotel. Of course, this is all a ruse by the hotel owner and King Boo. Your friends are soon missing, having been sealed inside picture frames while you barely escape a similar fate. Starting with only a flashlight and the help from your ethereal companion, Polterpup, you’re tasked with defeating King Boo and the other ghosts that haunt the hotel, and rescuing your buddies.
Again, having not played any of the previous titles, I don’t have any notes comparing the feel to past releases. However, I can give you my perspective as a new player.
And no, you’re not the first person to realize the game doesn’t actually take place in a mansion.
If you’re not used to games with a Z-axis and separate controls for movement and targeting, it may take a little bit to feel comfortable. Throughout most of the game, you will be dodging enemies and attacks, while aiming your flashlight or Poltergust vacuum, then quickly changing direction to suck things in. This process can be challenging but certainly possible with a little determination. The end result is intensely gratifying though, feeling the rumble of smashing a ghost into the floor from an overhead arc.
Another enjoyable mechanic is searching for hidden treasures and tracking ghosts with the dark-light attachment. Learning and remembering to use your various tools to search through the hotel is literally rewarding.
The level design, atmosphere and characters are simply gorgeous, especially considering this is the Nintendo Switch. As you’re running through the hotel, one visual facet you will hopefully be able to appreciate is the lighting. The rooms are constructed with fantastic areas of contrast, but then you have Luigi running around with a flashlight, searching for areas of interest or secrets, and certain elements almost pop off the screen. Additionally, the use of distinct colors for characters and enemies has always been a strength of games in the Mario Bros universe. This game is a continuation of that as characters appear with vibrance.
The music and sound effects are also superb, enhancing the ambiance and immersing you in the danger and urgency of the present challenge.
If there’s any weakness for the game, this is definitely it. As contrived as the story is though, the only other frustration I had was the tedium added by having to chase down the spectral cat, Polterkitty. I suppose the argument for this is to position the battle within a more interactive environment.
This is primarily a single-player game so I’ve reviewed it with that in mind, but it does have several components that add replay value or the ability to include others. I have not personally experienced any of these though, so I’ll simply list what extras you can take advantage of:
Overall, this is a solid choice for all but the most hardcore and insatiable gamers. My daughter had seen me playing and she is excited to finally jump in, which will provide me the opportunity to experience the party games and local coop as Gooigi!