So, I think it has become clear that I like puzzles. Therefore, it is only natural that I would like Professor Layton games for the DS. Why, “Who’s Professor Layton?” You ask! Only the nicest, smartest, most gentlemanly English gentleman you will meet playing video games. His three games, subtitled The Curious Village, The Diabolical Box, and the newest game The Unwound Future, are all puzzle adventure games with the added bonuses of interesting storylines and some of the best voice acting to be found in a handheld game.
Let me briefly introduce you to the two main characters in the games. The title character, Professor Layton, is a top-hat wearing, tea-drinking Englishman. He has been known to say “Every puzzle has an answer.” His enjoyment comes from solving puzzles and from trying to stump others, especially his apprentice. Luke, the apprentice is a young boy with a knack for solving puzzles and being cute and funny. There are some other recurring characters in the games including a young girl named Flora, a not-so-logical detective named Inspector Chelmey, and a villain names Don Paolo.
The puzzles are what really make this game. They come in numerous types. There are visual games such as matching the ends of mixed up ropes and wires, there are classic brain teasers including Towers of Hanoi and Mastermind, and there are simple math and geometry puzzles. When you solve the puzzle you are rewarded with picarats, a type of currency that ends up being, in fact, useless, except perhaps for bragging rights. If you need help solving puzzles, you can buy hints with coins that are found by tapping around the lands you visit. Some puzzles you need to solve to continue the storyline, some you can leave unsolved.
Here’s a classic river crossing puzzle
If you are concerned that you aren’t a puzzle person, this game is very accessible. My husband has played the same two I have, and while he’s very smart, he’s not very visual-logical, and he still enjoys the game. He enjoys the storylines and voice acting slightly more than I do (I skip to the puzzles!), and uses a few more hint coins, but rarely gets overly frustrated. On the other hand, I am a mensa-book buying puzzle fanatic, and I still love these games. Yes, I solve some puzzles quite fast, but there is plenty to keep me busy and a series of challenges once the game is beat to keep you going. I played for nearly 12 hours of storyline, and probably have another 5-6 hours of challenges left if I want them. There are also a variety of mini-games scattered throughout the storyline.
Here’s a mini-game about making tea!
The Layton franchise does well both in the US and Japan, and there is a fourth game set as a prequel that currently only has a Japanese version, although I expect to see it in the US at some point. The fifth game is already being talked about for the 3DS, and the only thing more exciting than puzzles is 3D puzzles, so I can’t wait!