Published Sep 26, 2009Like Indiana Jones and Short Round, Professor Layton is an archaeology instructor with a signature hat and a young apprentice who solves mysteries about ancient artefacts - in this case the titular evil box.
But rather than a 1930s-style serial, the Layton games feature an idealized Euro setting (as imagined by the game's Japanese developers) and puzzling brain-teasers instead of action set-pieces. The gorgeous hand-drawn art style is reminiscent of The Triplettes of Belleville, the accordion music is engaging and the voice acting is some of the best in gaming, despite being squished onto a tiny DS cartridge.
But as charming as all that is, and as fun as it is to indulge in some classic point-and-click gaming, the wonder of this series, which began with Professor Layton and the Curious Village (a third not-yet-translated gamer is already another big hit in Japan and the franchise has inspired manga and an upcoming feature film) is how it reinvigorates the ancient art of puzzling. These logic-based puzzles, created by Mental Gymnastics author Akira Tago, range from wordplay and riddles to jigsaws and crime-solving detective work (as in, say, deducing how a murderer made his escape).
There are about 150 puzzles all told. Each has three hints to help you solve them (though the know-it-all internet will get you through if you get stumped or lazy). Level-5, previously best known RPGs Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy, has made a beautifully designed game with creativity, cleverness and quirk oozing out of every code string. (Level-5/Nintendo)