Peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Cats and dogs. Some things are fated to be paired up, and it’s impossible to think of one half without thinking of its mate as well.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 seemingly understands this unofficial Law of Pairing. As Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon gave us the adorable Polterpup, Luigi’s third ghost-sucking adventure introduces the translucent pup’s “opposite:” the incorrigible, irrepressible, and independent Polterkitty.
Mild spoilers for Luigi’s Mansion 3 follow.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 is so much better for the ghost cat’s addition. Heck, the entirety of planet Earth is somehow a nicer place to be thanks to the arrival of Polterkitty. Cats just make everything better, even if Polterkitty turns her nose up at the very idea of interacting with anyone other than Helen Gravely, the owner of The Last Resort. Polterkitty’s animation and antics add a small but potent pinch of color and life (ironic, I know) to Luigi’s Mansion 3, which is already one of the most charming and expressive games on the Switch.
It’s easy to fall in love with video game pets when their movements emulate the real deal, and Next Level Games deserves praise for making both Polterpup and Polterkitty so lifelike. (Again: ironic, I know.) Not only do these passed-on pets move and vocalize like real cats and dogs, but their movements complement each other perfectly. Polterpup yips, smiles, and gambols; Polterkitty carries herself with silent grace. Polterpup sells his dignity without a second thought if it means getting his belly scratched; Polterkitty pretends she’s above such nonsense even though she’s not above playing with a feather wand when she thinks nobody is looking.
But as much as it pains me to acknowledge that, yes, sometimes cats will readily serve evil, Polterkitty is at her best when she prepares to commit murder. Under certain circumstances, Polterkitty will transform into a snarling panther-like beast with huge teeth and perpetually unsheathed claws. If she catches Luigi in this form, she’ll perform a death-roll that inflicts big damage.
Polterkitty’s sweet side and primal shadow captures what I love most about cats, i.e. the sheer fact they’re nature’s perfect killing machines but they’re the perfect size for picking up and cuddling. And they generally let us cuddle them, even though they became domestic thoroughly on their own terms. I understand why Gravely weaponized her own cat to gut Luigi. I don’t agree with it, but I understand.
Though Luigi is better off praying to the Mushroom Kingdom’s equivalent of God (Rosalina) every time he’s forced to do battle with Polterkitty, he’s not defenseless. Polterkitty will retreat if you suck up one of her three tails with the Poltergust. (Note: please do not vacuum your cats’ tails in real life.) Polterkitty’s multiple tails aren’t just a gameplay mechanic, though. They might be a reference to Nekomata, multi-tailed cats from Japanese folklore. According to legend, when a cat grows very old, it gains another tail. If Polterkitty is a ghost, we can assume she’s certainly aged a bit.
Japan doesn’t take all the credit for Polterkitty’s regal looks, however. Her triangular head and big ears give her the appearance of an Egyptian cat deity—and there’s no doubt she carries herself like royalty. She’s especially not interested in giving Polterpup the time of day, no matter how much the poor pup tries to goad her into playing.
Polterkitty is cuddly but dangerous. Her mood shifts on a dime. She stays frustratingly out of reach whenever you need her to come to your side. She’s aloof, and she’s spoiled beyond belief; she has her own little couch in Helen Gravely’s office, and you find her toys scattered about. She is, in other words, a cat. And I love her.