Release Date: 02/15/2007
Available Exclusively On
Professor Layton is a series I have been curious about, but could never get into. When this game came out I rented it from GameFly and sent it back the same day. It was frustrating right off the bat and I couldn’t solve a single puzzle by myself. These are probably some of the toughest puzzles you will ever come across in a game. I don’t mean regular puzzles in a 3D space, but full-on college-level logic puzzles. Math questions, pattern recognition, optical illusions and they’re all insanely tough. You do some slider puzzles, the occasional jigsaw, and process of elimination questions. The game is insanely hard and you will need a walkthrough for this one.
The base of the game plays out like a point-and-click adventure. You enter the town of St. Mystere to find the elusive Golden Apple and acquire its wealth. in the meantime, you are confronted by the townsfolk who strangely present you with puzzles at every turn. There are 120 puzzles in the main game with 15 unlocked as Layton’s challenges. There are an additional 25 puzzles as weekly downloads, but the service has since shut down. These can be unlocked with cheat hacks as they are in the game code. Layton’s Challenges are unlocked by finding pieces to every puzzle. One is sorting items in either Layton or Luke’s room and their reaction is a hint on whether it belongs to them or not. Another is assembling a gizmo and finding all pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. These are found by solving optional hidden puzzles outside of the story ones.
You can tap around on the screen for coins that are used to unlock hints, and you will need as many as you. You tap on the village folk to advance the story or solve their puzzles. If you missed any optional puzzles in a given chapter they are returned to the puzzle room so you don’t have to worry about not finding them. These don’t include optional hidden puzzles found by tapping around the screen, however. You can get through the story and solve all of these later at your leisure. You do get objectives at the top screen. Usually to go to a certain area or talk to a specific character. There are some really good-looking full-motion anime cut scenes peppered throughout the game will full voice acting. It’s low-quality audio due to the limited size of the DS carts, but it still looks good.
The game isn’t hard in terms of exploration. You’re limited to maybe a couple dozen screens over the course of the story and it’s laid out in such a way that you will memorize where everything is pretty fast. The story itself is cute and charming, predictable and forgettable, but works within the game’s world. Layton and Luke are great characters with depth and their personalities shine through here. I just wish the puzzles weren’t so damn hard. There is no difficulty ramping, and there are no mini-games for breaks. It’s just 120 puzzles that I either knew the answer to and doubted myself, didn’t understand the puzzle until I saw the logic behind the answer, was always off by one number, or almost had something. Most of these puzzles are well designed in terms of cleverness, a lot of the time the answer is right in front of your face in form of trick questions, but only those who are avid logic puzzle solvers will truly enjoy this game.
With a walkthrough, I did solve all 120 puzzles, and maybe 20 of those I solved on my own. It’s that damn hard and it’s a surprise as this game seems marketed toward children, and I’m sure many bought this and had no clue what to do. These are college-level puzzles that only serious brainiacs can solve. Sadly, you’re locked behind the puzzle and can’t advance. There’s no way to pay your way out or see the solution. You get three hints and a lot of them don’t help much. You just need to know that these are real puzzles that are serious. There is a scoring system in form of Pacarats, but these mean nothing and don’t unlock anything. It’s really just a score. Every time you fail a puzzle the potential score you can get for that puzzle drops. So, don’t worry about this system too much.
Overall, I liked the art and characters, the story was cute, and when I did solve a puzzle on my own it was satisfying, but the majority are just way too hard. There are no mini-games, breaks of any kind, or anything to change up the gameplay. Sure, the puzzles themselves have different uses for the touch screen. Write in stuff, and use the touch screen as a notepad to solve math problems or trace patterns, but other than that it’s just used to tap around the screen on static images. I’m hoping future games dial the difficulty way down and save the hard crap for the optional challenges.