and the Curious
Layton left us all stumped. Only Graham Jones
could unravel this enigma...
Since Nintendo found they had a surprise mega-hit on
their hands with the Brain Training series, third
party publishers have flooded the handheld market with
attempts to steal Dr Kawashima’s title as the king of
mind-bending puzzle compilations. As is so often the case in
these situations, the pretenders to the crown failed to live
up to the original, and so it is that Nintendo return with a
new take on the puzzle genre, this time developed by
Level-5. Gone are the graphs, charts and daily progression
and in comes a plot-driven graphic adventure that’s as
charming as it is frustratingly addictive.
The game begins via a wonderfully animated movie sequence
with full voice acting explaining that the (ahem) legendary
puzzle-solver, Professor Layton, and his young apprentice
Luke, are visiting the strange village of St Mystere in
order to investigate the death of a wealthy baron who has
left clues to a hidden fortune in his will. As you probe the
secrets of the village, its inhabitants will constantly ask
that you solve puzzles for them - some you will be able to
walk away from, others have to be completed in order to
The tasks range from simple ‘spot the difference’
games to infuriatingly hard matchstick puzzles, along with a
myriad of other challenges of varying difficulty. Hint coins
can be found scattered about the village and these can be
exchanged for help if you’re getting particularly vexed by
a troubling riddle. On top of these puzzles, which form the
‘bread and butter’ of the game, are the overlying
mysteries surrounding the late Baron Reinhold and his wife,
along with the dark and foreboding tower that lies at the
heart of St Mystere.
charming as it is addictive..."
It’s a very compelling adventure, if a little
convoluted. The number of times a villager will stop you in
the street to ask for help on a puzzle they’re struggling
with seems a little higher than would normally occur in real
life, but if you can accept that every twist and turn in the
game is simply an excuse to link together the next series of
mind benders then you’ll remain satisfied with the quest.
The game is very well presented, with the style of a
Tin Tin cartoon mixed with Manga animation. The voice acting
can be a little hammy but is still a welcome inclusion and
the musical score adds the perfect balance of mystery and
light heartedness to accompany the feel of the game. The
touch-screen of the DS is used to great effect, both to
explore the village itself and when puzzle solving. Indeed,
the game is completely driven by the touch screen, which
shows off the potential for more graphic adventures on the
console. Let’s hope Nintendo picks up on this fact and we
get to see some classic Day Of The Tentacle-type
games sooner rather than later.
Overall, Professor Layton delivers a fun and intriguing
puzzle-driven adventure which anyone who has ever bought a
puzzle book to accompany them on a long journey will enjoy.
With over 130 riddles to unravel, this should provide even
the most capable brainiacs with around 15-20 hours’ worth
of gameplay, and replay value continues in the form of a
weekly downloadable puzzle via the Nintendo Wi-Fi
Connection. In fact, the only negative points I can find
with this title are that the pacing can be a little slow and
it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. There are
going to be occasions when your DS has you stumped and
you’ll want to throw it at the nearest solid object in
total, primal frustration. The satisfaction in overcoming
these difficulties more than makes up for it to those who
can think their way through the sadism, but if you aren’t
a fan of puzzles, this won’t change your mind. If, on the
other hand, you like your old grey matter to be tested, Professor
Layton and the Curious Village is the new benchmark all
other DS puzzlers will have to compare themselves to.
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