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Professor Layton

Review: Layton Brothers: Mystery Room

Aug 19 // Tony Ponce
Layton Brothers: Mystery Room (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 4S])Developer: Matrix SoftwarePublisher: Level-5Release: June 27, 2013 (US / EU)MSRP: Free (Case File No. 000-002), $2.99 (No. 003-006), $1.99 (No. 007-009) You won't find Professor Hershel Layton or his young protégé Luke in this new tale, which takes place an indeterminate number of years following the duo's globetrotting adventures. Instead, you assume the role of Lucy Baker, an eager new detective constable working in Scotland Yard under Alfendi Layton, genius son of the ol' professor. Despite the game's title implying otherwise, Alfendi's unnamed brother is curiously absent aside from a brief offhand mention early on. Perhaps Level-5 hopes to investigate that particular mystery in a future sequel, but it's nonetheless an odd naming choice. Anyway, Mystery Room is split into nine separate "Case Files" (plus a prologue chapter to establish the setting). In each, you must use your investigative skills to examine murder sites and determine the culprit from a small list of suspects. Most cases are unrelated to one another, save for the last few which tie directly into the game's overarching narrative. [embed]259887:49975:0[/embed] The meat of the game is the investigation phase, in which you use the touchscreen to navigate the crime scene for evidence. Unlike your typical point-and-click adventure, all objects you can inspect will be pointed out via markers. Though genre-savvy players might believe this makes the game too easy, the upside is that it eliminates both the tedious exercise of pixel hunting as well as any fears that you can't solve a case because of a single missing clue. After making a list of deductions, you invite the alleged culprit into the office for a final round of questioning; here's where Mystery Room gets deliciously anime-tastic. Much like the "cornered" sequences in the Ace Attorney series, the culprit grows more comically frustrated as you present evidence that contradicts his or her statements. Their composure is visually represented by a heart encased in stone, and each of your accusations take on the form of arrows that literally chip away at their defense. While the earlier cases are fairly straightforward, later ones feature last-second twists that may point the blame elsewhere. As tense as the game can become, there's never any danger of failing. Al will gently guide you towards the correct answers early on, but even in the more complex cases, the penalty for presenting incorrect evidence is just to pick again. You'll never have to replay a section just because of your mistakes, which makes it entirely possible to brute force your way through. However, there is a sense of hearty accomplishment in putting forth an honest effort. The story isn't as massive in scope as those of Al's old man, but that shortcoming is balanced out by a well defined cast. Alfendi himself is a mellow fellow who calculates the percent certainty of his suspicions down to the tenths place, but in the heat of interrogation, his demeanor changes to that of a sinister, sharp-tongued wolf. Lucy of course is the bright-eyed sidekick, anxious to prove her worth despite her lack of experience. Then there are the supporting characters and the criminal suspects, each with distinctive mannerisms and speech. The dialog is one of the game's biggest highlights. Mystery Room successfully textualizes a range of regional dialects -- you can almost hear Lucy's thick Cockney accent whenever she speaks. It's such a shame there is no voice acting whatsoever, considering the incredible voice work in the main Layton games. The other highlight is the incredible jazz soundtrack, produced by famed Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro. There's such energy and intensity there, as if you are playing a classic radio drama. Once you start putting pressure on your suspect, the trumpets flare, the drums go absolutely mental, and the player feels completely in control. You've got the mind of a super sleuth and have the theme song to prove it! Mystery Room is also a highly digestible experience. Each chapter feels like an episode of a TV show -- long enough that you feel adequately invested, yet short enough that you can easily clear a case in a single sitting. Though there are frequent checkpoints for those who absolutely must quit mid-investigation, the fact that you can tackle a chapter in the time it would take to watch CSI makes the game very inviting. Most of all, there's something immensely satisfying about putting on your thinking cap and solving a harrowing murder mystery. Even if there isn't any true risk of failure, the game creates just enough tension that you feel your actions have purpose. Add to that all the window dressing -- the bizarre characters, the over-the-top interrogations, the music -- and you'd have to be pretty jaded not to have a grand time. Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is a fine companion to the main Layton series. Unless you really, really miss those Highlights brain teasers, that is.
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A gentleman leaves no murder unsolved
Despite my affection towards the Professor Layton series, I felt no compulsion to download Layton Brothers: Mystery Room when it released a couple months back. I'm not against mobile gaming, nor do I believe it's impossible f...

Layton vs. Ace Attorney photo
OBJECTION!
[Update: European release also confirmed.] Late last year, Japan got an amazing crossover in Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney -- leaving everyone else in the dark as to when it would be announced worldwide. But due to today...

Layton on iOS photo
Layton on iOS

Layton Brothers: Mystery Room hits iOS today


'Who is the mom?' is the real mystery
Jun 27
// Chris Carter
At some point Professor Layton had a child. We don't know how it was conceived, or whether or not it was through natural or unnatural means, but lo and behold, Alfendi Layton is a real thing, and he's starring in his own iOS ...
Professor Layton photo
Professor Layton

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy to hit 3DS in 2014


Prostitute D is a dog
Apr 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is set to arrive on North American shores in 2014. After arriving in Japan back in late February, the sixth entry in Level-5's series of puzzlers is slated to arrive in Europe someti...
Sexy Layton photo
Sexy Layton

The Ballad of Sexy Layton (and Sexy Luke)


Such a sad song, such a happy man
Mar 28
// Jonathan Holmes
There isn't much to say about this that isn't better expressed through song, but there is one interesting piece of trivia to share. Sexy Luke is played by Capcom Fan Art legend and former Boondocks artist [name withheld per request]. That's pretty awesome. Other than that, I don't have much to say. Just watch the video.
Last Layton game photo
Last Layton game

Send off Professor Layton in Azran Legacies


Watch the full trailer
Feb 25
// Chris Carter
The newest full trailer for Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies, the last game to star Professor Layton has dropped, and it's definitely worth watching -- whether you're fan or not. I have to admit, I got a little nostal...
Professor Layton photo
Professor Layton

Professor Layton's final journey gets translated trailers


Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies arrives February 28 in Japan
Feb 11
// Tony Ponce
We haven't been doing a good job of keeping you cool cats abreast of the final chapter in the Layton series, Professor Layton and the Azran Legeacies. That is a shame, considering the 3DS puzzle-venture is set ready to take ...

Review: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Nov 16 // Matthew Razak
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3DS)Developer: Level-5Publisher: NintendoRelease: October 28, 2012MSRP: $39.99 For those keeping up with the adventures of Professor Layton, his apprentice Luke, and his assistant Emmy, this fifth installment in the series takes place before the first three games, but after The Last Specter. Continuing with its predecessor's goal of filling in the back story of Professor Layton and Luke, Miracle Mask actually takes place during two time periods. Unlike the faux time travel of Unwound Future, the game actually cuts back and forth between the present day and Professor Layton's past, when the wise, puzzle-solving educator was just a teenager. Like all Layton games, the story involves the Professor being contacted by an old friend to help solve a mystery. This time he is contacted by his childhood best friend's ex-girlfriend to come to the carnival town of Monte d'Or where a strange man wearing the titular Miracle Mask is terrorizing the town. Layton must dig into his past in order to solve the current mystery as he and his best friend Randall were the ones who discovered the mask originally. In this way, each chapter of the story jumps back and forth between the times, filling you in on the back story while while the mystery unfolds. It's actually a great storytelling trick that keeps the plot fresh even if most of Hershel Layton's teenage years are simply expository, puzzle-filled fun. The Layton mysteries aren't really mysteries anyway, but more fantastical excuses to present as many puzzles as possible before revealing a pretty ludicrous ending to the entire affair (*cough* underground recreation of London *cough*). [embed]238204:45796[/embed] Of course anyone coming to Layton for a grounded mystery is sniffing at the wrong top hat. It's the grandiose charm and quirkiness that makes Layton work so well and it's found in spades once again in Miracle Mask. Somehow, Level-5 manages to keep Layton and his cohorts feeling fresh despite this being the fifth game in the series. Professor Layton's gentlemanly demeanor is still as charming as ever and digging into his childhood -- a time when he didn't like puzzles (!) -- is actually quite a treat. The town of Monte d'Or is also dazzling fun to explore, and explodes with more life than any of Layton's previous locales.  Part of that life is because Mont d'Or is the flashiest city that Layton has been in, but the majrority of it is thanks to the game's new 3D look. Miracle Mask is a complete redesign of the Professor Layton gameplay for 3D that magically still feels exactly like the previous games. Gone are the admittedly gorgeous 2D frozen images and they're replaced by fully 3D, cell-shaded character models. Every character from Layton to background NPCs are now full-motion, 3D characters. At first, the change may be jarring as you indignantly think that it ruined the art or something like that, but once you're in the game, there is no denying that the new look breathes new life into Layton's world. Characters now move when they talk and the world now feels far more alive than in previous games where the backgrounds were fantastic, but often felt like ghost towns. Another worry was that the push for 3D would ruin the artwork and creativity present in the Layton series, but it's only made them better. Level-5 really took full advantage of the 3DS's capabilities when it came to the "level" design. Without losing Layton's trademark look, they've built each scene into a spectacular 3D background. Each new section of the Monte d'Or you head into is exciting simply because it looks so good. The same can't be said for the locales in Layton's past, which are a bit more mundane, but that's only in comparison Monte d'Or. Of course, because of the new 3D design, the gameplay had to change a bit. Most of what makes a Professor Layton game a Professor Layton game is still in tact: the main story is told in cutaways to (now 3D) animation; discussions are still handled in text boxes with characters appearing on opposing sides of the screen (though they're now moving as they speak); and you still move from one still area to another, clicking on people and objects to unlock stories or find hint coins. However, since the top screen is now the screen that holds the image you're searching around in, you are no longer directly touching it. Instead your stylus controls a magnifying glass that pops in and out of the different depths of the scene as it runs over items. It's actually pretty cool to simply see the cursor bounce around the screen's depth, and even a jaded film critic like me, who is about to stab every film that comes out in 3D, had a moment of, "Damn, that's pretty neat." You can, of course, easily slide the 3DS out of 3D mode, but I found that really detracted from the game's look. Now that multiple paragraphs have been wasted discussing the visuals in a game about puzzles, we should probably talk about the puzzles. The problem is they're really just great puzzles and that sums it up. The puzzles in Miracle Mask were a bit more difficult (or maybe I'm just getting dumber) than in prior games, but there's nothing especially profound to say about them. All the puzzles are up to the same quality and charm of the previous four titles. There's some pretty clever new ones in there, but it's more of what you've seen before, and that isn't a bad thing at all. I would have liked for the developers to have integrated the 3D into the puzzles a bit more. Some of the puzzles have top-screen action that adds embellishment, but none really utilize the depth for any practical reason. There is an action game where Layton rides a horse that is an obvious attempt to really emphasize the 3D, but it's lackluster at best. There's also another section in the game that breaks with Layton tradition pretty roughly by turning into a top-down dungeon exploration game, like a very simplified Legend of Zelda. It's actually a fun and decently lengthy twist where each room in the dungeon is a puzzle based on moving boulders and avoiding automated enemies. It's a great diversion from the standard Layton action, but never really gets the chance to take off in any meaningful way. The room puzzles never get particularly challenging, which is odd because the traditional-style puzzles found in that section are. As with previous Layton games, there is a plethora of extra content (though not as robust an offering as the last game's RPG, London Life). There's a clever shop puzzle game where you have to align items by color and type so that customers will buy them, a guide-the-robot game in which you must help a robot reach a certain point, and a more in-depth game where you have to teach a rabbit tricks and then have him perform them in a play. The latter of the three gets old quick -- the rabbit is not as much fun to train as one would hope despite the fact that he is adorable. Once again the puzzles don't stop at the end of the game as new puzzles become available weekly. Like all of the other Professor Layton games, it simply comes down to whether or not you enjoy solving puzzles. Fans will enjoy the added life, charm, and depth (yes, I said it) that the 3D redesign brings to the series, but this isn't going to win over any non-Layton lovers. The beauty of it is that no one really wants the series to change. In a gaming world where everyone demands that the next game bring something new and different, it's a little refreshing that a gentleman in a top hat can deliver consistent, quality gaming that pleases despite the fact that it's just what we played before... but now in 3D.
Prof. Layton photo
New look, same Professor
When Disney started re-releasing all their classic animated films in 3D because they like money and their classic films are really worth watching again in the theater, I wrote this review of the 3D release of Beauty and the B...

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Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask will be my first


Give me guidance!
Oct 29
// Dale North
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask will be my very first Professor Layton. This game, which I've learned is the fifth in the series, has just launched for the 3DS. With the huge following this franchise has gathered, ...
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Watch the Cruz sisters in this new Layton ad


She won't let you down, professor
Oct 25
// Chris Carter
If celebrity endorsements are your thing, then there's a fresh new video for you to check out starring the Cruz sisters, Mónica and Penélope (sans the Mario outfit from the last ad).The gist is Penelope is shoot...

Preview: Professor Layton 3DS looks amazing

Oct 15 // Steven Hansen
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3DS) Developer: Level-5 Publisher: Nintendo Release: October 26, 2012 Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask takes place a year after The Last Specter (and its accompanying animated film), making it the second in a prequel trilogy. In addition to its space in the chronology, however, Miracle mask will be reaching back deeper still, as some of the game takes place 18 years prior, in the professor’s youth. Indeed, Layton, his apprentice Luke, and his assistant Emmy aren’t visiting Monte d'Or for the carnival. The expedition is prompted after Layton receives a letter from a ghost of his past, Angela Ledore, urging him to come and figure out what the deal is with this Masked Gentleman. My first taste of the game and its titular villain came in the form of the intro cinematic, which is absolutely stunning. Monte d’Or’s carnival reminded me of a decidedly less grim "The Cask of Amontillado" by way of Paprika's parade, though things do take a turn for the worse when the Masked Gentleman interrupts the proceedings, crashing an enormous balloon and turning many of the city’s celebrating denizens into stone statutes. He then flies off, urging Layton and company to give chase in a surprising action sequence. The trio jump on horseback and the perspective shifts behind Layton. Above the horizon, you can see the Masked Gentleman flying away as you use the stylus to maneuver the horse left and right. To make things interesting, there are occasionally forking roads at which you’ll have to choose which direction to go, while barrels and carrots are littered throughout the street. The carrots give you a speed boost, hitting barrels slow you down. I hit a lot of barrels. A lot. But I caught up to the Masked Gentleman just the same; or, at least, I thought I did. Unfortunately, he seemed to have disappeared, leaving only a flitting piece of cloth where he once was flying. After this point, the only things Layton and associates can do is give the scene of arrival a good once-over and things become more familiar. While the Layton series’ gameplay is a bit well worn after a quartet of DS games, its 3DS outing has received a pretty noticeable overhaul. Investigating areas now involves dragging a magnifying glass around the scene; points of interest cause it to light up and a quick tap brings you in for a closer look. The scenes you’re investigating are also a little less static and a bit bigger, presumably thanks to the 3DS’ beefed up tech. The characters are also rendered polygonal for the first time in the series, animated sprightly, giving them a more lively quality in conversation. While I preferred the 2D cutscenes with the 3DS’ 3D turned off, it looks quite nice in these new 3D sequences and in investigation. Of course, I’d be remiss to fail to mention the puzzles for which the series is famous. I only tried out a few in my hands-on time, but they were as interesting and varied as ever. The first tasked me with extricating a failed clown from his balloon entanglement -- perhaps only a rung under trying to untangle Christmas lights -- while another deductive word puzzle required me to find a lost girl’s mother after they were separated in magical commotion. Another puzzle had Emmy piecing together a toy robot; doing so successfully made the shopkeeper who challenged her even more enamored with her, so he gave it to Emmy as a gift, which opened up its own puzzle minigame, accessed from the professor’s bag. You have to navigate the robot through a series of obstacles -- enemy wind-up mice, walls, conveyor-belt floors -- while being restricted to movement three spaces at a time in one direction. The game hinted at a prize for completing all the stages, though I found it rather fun to play with for its own sake. We may have had to wait a long time for localization of this text- and dialogue-heavy title, but, as ever, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask seems worth it. I’m suitably intrigued by the promise of unearthing Layton’s early years (and what grim secrets they may contain), but even more intriguing is the mystical, magical Masked Gentleman; he’s a fly dresser and definitely seems like my sort of villain. Also, damn, Miracle Mask is ridiculously gorgeous.
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Everything 2D needs this much style
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask launched with the 3DS. In Japan, anyway. We’ve had to wait a bit longer. Over a year and a half. You know what they say: Rome wasn’t localized in a day. Thankfully, Miracle Ma...

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Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is labeled as the sixth and final game to follow Hershel Layton. The game starts in a cozy, winter village and follows the crew on a globetrotting adventure after Layton and co. embark on...

TGS: Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright join forces

Sep 21 // Allistair Pinsof
At the start of the demo, I was given the choice of choosing to play as Layton or Wright. I chose Layton which began with a gorgeously drawn animation sequence, improved with 3D and ruined by bad compression. If you've played a Layton game, you know what to expect. A minor difference is that you now explore your environment via a cursor controlled by the thumbstick or stylus. I don't really see why Level-5 thought this was necessary. I can see benefits to it, such as the magnifying glass cursor sparkling when you hover over a coin spot. I haven't spent enough time with the game to feel one way or another. Maybe Level-5 just want to mix things up. In any case, it leaves the bottom screen in a sad empty state. Visually, PLvAA is one of the sharpest games on the 3DS. Character portraits are now rendered in 3D but have a cartoon design and shading to them that makes them look 2D until they move. The backgrounds also look a lot better too thanks to a higher resolution and the 3DS' depth-of-field. The UI is also overhauled with a pop-up menu for puzzle explanations that can easily be minimized and other good tweaks. [embed]235440:45160[/embed] After getting stuck on a puzzle in Layton (it is in Japanese), I jumped into Ace Attorney. I should have known I'd be watching loads of animated video and dialog before getting into the game. I wasn't able to check out the game thoroughly, but it seems pretty consistent with previous entries in the series. I'm not sure how it will connect to Layton's story, beyond the witch trials that Wright takes part in. Layton and Wright occupy the same world for this title, but between the demo and TGS trailer, I'm starting to get the feeling that we'll rarely see them share screen space. Fans of both games will find much to enjoy here, but may be better off playing Ace Attorney 5 and/or Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy. For a crossover, PLvAA doesn't feel all that grand or ambitious. It's more of a Neapolitan than an ice cream sundae, but if you happen to like all variety of flavors, it may be exactly what you are craving.
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Professor Layton and Ace Attorney are unique within the puzzle/adventure genre, but both share enough in common with each other to make for a perfect crossover game. Not since Marvel vs. Capcom and Kingdom Hearts have dedicat...

TGS: Professor Layton's iOS debut isn't what you'd expect

Sep 20 // Allistair Pinsof
For better or worse, Level-5 is choosing to make an original Layton game for iOS rather than port one from the DS. This may be a bit misleading, however, since Mystery Room began as its own series in 2009, only to be rebranded as a Layton game. Nevertheless, the game is sticking close to what the series does well with a European art style, a soothing jazz soundtrack, and puzzles that are way too tough to solve in a language you don’t understand. Instead of following Hershel Layton, Mystery Room follows his sons and their apprentice (whom you choose out of two possible choices). The puzzles also seem to take a different approach. The demo contained a lengthy explanation of a murder scene followed by an interactive set where you turn and zoom in a camera to pick-up clues. This all feels like a natural adoption of iOS’s touch controls, but it’s kind of gimmicky and not nearly as engaging as a good riddle. It’s kind of too CSI: Layton Edition for my taste. Once you’ve gathered enough clues, you must decide which of the three suspects is guilty. I couldn’t follow the Japanese text, but I chose the fat, old lady because this is a Layton game. Naturally, I was correct. Mystery Room looks pretty sharp, but you won’t mistake it for a main entry Layton game, especially the upcoming 3DS that look stunning (previews to come!). The game lacks that warm, hand-drawn look and the style and sound of the game feels closer to late ‘70s (if that makes any sense). Maybe it’s a good thing that Level-5 is trying to branch off and make something new in the Layton universe with its iOS debut, but it’s hard to get too excited when we have much better-looking, better-playing Layton games on the way for 3DS. Mystery Room will be available for download September 21 in Japan, but there are currently no plans for a US release.
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The idea of developers dedicating resources to mobile versions of franchises is something I’ve long been against, but have slowly been warming up to. So, they might as well make something good. Layton Brothers: Myster...

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TGS: New trailer for Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney


Sep 19
// Chad Concelmo
Direct from TGS 2012 comes this new trailer for upcoming 3DS game Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney! And it has actual gameplay! When I first heard Capcom and Level 5 were teaming up to make this game, I thought I was dreami...

PAX: Hands-on with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Aug 31 // Chad Concelmo
If you are familiar with the Professor Layton games, you know how things work. Professor Layton and Luke (as well as some other members of the main party), explore various locations and meet an eclectic cast of some of the best supporting characters to ever grace a videogame in order to solve a series of mysteries. Along the way, the player must help them complete hundreds of progressively more difficult puzzles until all mysteries are complete ... and I am sobbing uncontrollably in front of my Nintendo handheld (seriously, the stories in the Layton games are genuinely heartbreaking!). With Miracle Mask, things start off on a similar note, but you will quickly realize how much things have changed. First, and most obvious, is the addition of 3D. Good news for people nervous about the sloppy use of 3D: the 3D effects in Miracle Mask are beautiful. The classic Professor Layton cinematics come even more to life and are stunning to watch with the added layers and depth the 3D effect creates. In addition to the cutscenes, the 3D works great in the actual game. After solving a puzzle correctly, when Layton approaches the screen and points at you with a congratulatory exclamation, he is really pointing at you. His finger comes right out of the screen! It is really cool and a nice touch. The benefits of the 3D are actually evident everywhere in the game. One major change to the game is the disappearance of static dialogue sequences. Replacing those beautifully rendered images are actual moving, fully polygonal characters. The change was jarring at first, and I kind of missed the old dialogue displays, but once things get going, you will love the new look. With this new style, everything feels more alive, as the camera can move around and every part of the character animates, as opposed to just their mouths. Also, again, the 3D looks great. This same style also moves into the actual locations. Instead of static images, the world is fully animated. You can't walk through it like you can in a normal 3D action/adventure game, but, when exploring, the camera moves ever so slightly and makes you feel like you are much more part of the environment ... rather than just looking at a beautiful painting of it from afar. These exploring sections also have another big change. The tap-tap-tap-tap-tap gameplay is gone! No need to tap everything with the touch screen to find a hot spot or hidden coin. Now, you drag a magnifying glass around the screen, looking for areas where the object "lights up," indicating there is something of note there (whether it be a puzzle, hint coin, or interactive item). Before you cry foul, this new technique works great. And it looks fantastic! As you slide the magnifying glass along the touch screen, a mirrored version of it appears on the top, 3D screen. The way important text is displayed closer to the screen and small pieces of the environment like rooms in windows are more pushed back in the 3D space is eye-popping and very polished. The demo was short, but one more difference that stood out was the inclusion of almost action-like sequences. One puzzle in particular wasn't even a puzzle at all! Professor Layton hops on a horse and chases a mysterious character. Instead of this being a traditional puzzle like you would normally see, the camera moved behind Layton as he chased the character through a vibrant village. Players are tasked with controlling Layton's horse to dodge barrels and navigate the maze-like streets. It was an interesting sequence and unlike anything that has been in the series before. All in all, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is looking great. As a giant fan of the series, this looks to be shaping into one of the best games yet. It looks beautiful, the 3D is surprisingly effective, and the puzzles are more challenging than ever. I can't wait to pick up the game when it releases for the Nintendo 3DS on October 28.
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As great as the Professor Layton games are (they are really great!), the last four released on the Nintendo DS have been very similar. While the art direction, puzzle-solving gameplay, and surprisingly emotional stories have ...

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Level-5 will bring three new, unannounced games to TGS


Aug 30
// Allistair Pinsof
Update: Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney has been added to the line-up and there are now three mystery games (one falling under the "family" category). After a weak showing last year, next month Level-5 will bring the goods t...
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New Professor Layton for 3DS is Layton's final adventure


Aug 29
// Dale North
This morning's Nintendo Direct presentation brought about an announcement for a new 3DS Professor Layton title, which Siliconera has translated as Professor Layton and the Legacy of the Super Civilization A. Level-5's Akihiro...

Destructoid's most wanted DS / 3DS games of 2012

Jan 13 // Chad Concelmo
Resident Evil Revelations (3DS)Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomRelease: February 7, 2012 I just recently replayed the undeniable classic Resident Evil 4 and fell in love with the game all over again. And as much as I liked (not loved) Resident Evil 5, after playing RE4, I have been craving a more classic Resident Evil experience. Resident Evil Revelations looks to satiate that need. Set on a creepy boat floating on a creepy sea, the gorgeous, "is that really running on a handheld?" Revelations should be the return to form the classic series desperately needs. I can't wait for the game to scare the bejesus out of me ... all in 3D! Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)Developer: Project SoraPublisher: NintendoRelease: March 23, 2012 I'm not going lie: out of all the games I am excited about in 2012, Kid Icarus: Uprising gives me the most reservations. I obviously love the character and am super stoked for the action-heavy gameplay, but I am very nervous about the controls. In my short time with the game, the controls were very uncomfortable, to say the least. But when a game is delayed (Kid Icarus: Uprising was originally supposed to be released in 2011), sometimes it is for the best. I am cautiously optimistic for this promising, wildly different sequel. It could end up being a surprise hit! Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS)Developer: Next Level GamesPublisher: NintendoRelease: Q1 2012 The original Luigi's Mansion was such an odd little launch title for the GameCube back in 2001, but that was one of the reasons I fell in love with it. When Nintendo does "odd," the results are always, at the very least, memorable. Now, more than 10 years later, the game is getting an official sequel on the 3DS! Once again starring Mario's tortured, often-forgotten sibling, Luigi's Mansion 2 looks better than the original and promises to feature multiple mansions, more stuff to do, and more ghosts to suck ... into the Poltergust 3000! I played the game at E3 and absolutely fell in love with its crisp visuals and addictive gameplay. I can't wait to play more of Luigi's Mansion 2 when it comes out later this year! Paper Mario (3DS)Developer: Intelligent SystemsPublisher: NintendoRelease: 2012 This is it. Out of all games on all systems, this is the one I am most looking forward to in 2012. I have never been shy about my love for the Paper Mario series. I think it is one of the most charming videogame series of all time, and the original is one of my favorite RPGs ever. Not much is known about Paper Mario for 3DS, but does it really matter? It's a brand new Paper Mario game! That's all I need to know. I am so freaking excited! I am going to play the sh*t out of this game! Honorable Mentions: Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance   Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition (DS)Developer: Game Freak, Tecmo KoeiPublisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon CompanyRelease: March 17, 2012 (JP) I am what you call a "lapsed fan" of the Pokémon series, having only played through the first generation before hanging up my towel. I've also never played any entry in the Nobunaga's Ambition series, nor am I consumer of strategy RPGs. However, take these two properties that would never in a million years eat at the same table then make them eat at the same table, and my interest is piqued. It's such a natural progression, really. For years, we've been exposed to our fair share of historical games that take extensive liberties with the events. Tecmo Koei itself has been pumping out a parade of Dynasty and Samurai Warriors sequels featuring outlandish skills and high-octane rock soundtracks. Sengoku-era warriors chillaxing with the likes of Mewtwo and Jigglypuff is the obvious next step. Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die (3DS, PlayStation Vita)Developer: ChunsoftPublisher: TBARelease: February 16, 2012 (JP) When I first heard about 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, I expected a beefier successor to the escape-the-room Flash games I enjoyed in college. I was blindsided when I popped the cartridge in and discovered a text-heavy visual novel without any respite, not even within the aforementioned puzzle rooms. Not one for excessive narrative, I shouldn't have liked this game. Not only did 999 become my favorite title of 2010, a lot of other people became hooked as well. It performed beyond Aksys' expectations, completely selling out and forcing the company to produce a second run. Good People Die is the sequel to 999; if it's even half as good as the original, I'll be a happy man. Already, the details have gotten me excited, the most interesting bit being the cooperation / betrayal mechanic. The participants are once again shackled with death watches, though they operate differently than in the last adventure. By choosing to help or turn on your partner, you collect points, and if you earn nine points, you can escape. However, points are awarded based on both parties' decisions, so should you choose to cooperate with someone who in turn betrays you, you lose points. If you hit zero, the watch will inject you with lethal poison. Oh boy! Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (3DS)Developer: Level-5, CapcomPublisher: Level-5Release: 2012 (JP) It's the season of crossovers! The union of Pokémon and Nobunaga's Ambition is (hopefully) like a pairing of foods that you wouldn't think tastes good but does, like sugar cookies filled with potato chip crumbles. Following that logic, Professor Layton and Ace Attorney is like peanut butter and Nutella -- two great tastes that taste even better combined. You know this to be true. How can Phoenix even legally practice law outside of the country? I say that because there is no way that town is just a Renaissance festival passing through California. Then again, Phoenix and Layton aren't supposed to exist in the same century, so I probably shouldn't try to introduce logic to this discussion, despite logic being the cornerstone of both franchises. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)Developer: indies zeroPublisher: Square EnixRelease: February 16, 2012 (JP) I was writing these little blurbs when I suddenly realized that none of my top picks have a US release date. Sure, it might just be a matter of time before the respective companies make "the call," and the only title I'm almost certain won't be localized can be imported and played on any vanilla DS without any region-locking hassle. Still, I'm upset that publishers in this modern age continue to be slow to respond to fans who show genuine interest in their more alternative catalog. But I digress. Where were we? Ah, Theatrhythm! The character art is deliciously adorable and the gameplay reminds me of Taiko Drum Master and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. I don't even think it's possible to dislike Final Fantasy music -- at least, I've never met anyone who does. Theatrhythm is most certainly a spin-off I can throw my full support behind. Rodea the Sky Soldier (3DS, Wii)Developer: PropePublisher: Kadokawa ShotenRelease: TBA I doubt many of you even remember this guy. We haven't seen or heard anything solid of Rodea, from Yuji Naka's Prope studios, in almost a year. All we discovered recently was that development completed some months back and that it's up to publisher Kadokawa Shoten to decide the next move. I want to play Rodea not only because I think it could be decent but also because I want to see a massive Prope game that isn't a shallow minigame package. Ivy the Kiwi? was fine, but let's aim a little higher, shall we? I definitely noticed shades of NiGHTS into Dreams... in the original trailer, so I pray I'm not setting my hopes up for a touch of that 90s SEGA magic in the final product. Honorable Mentions: Flipper 2: Flush the Goldfish, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Mutant Mudds, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword , Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Resident Evil Revelations Additional staff picks for the DS / 3DS: Sean Daisy: Monster Hunter 4, Luigi's Mansion 2, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Jonathan Holmes: Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition, Guild 01, Resident Evil Revelations Andrew Kauz: Tales of the Abyss, Resident Evil Revelations, Kid Icarus: UprisingTara Long: Resident Evil RevelationsJonathan Ross: Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Professor Layton vs. Ace AttorneyMax Scoville: The Binding of Isaac Josh Tolentino: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2  
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This entire week, we have covered our most anticipated 2012 games for the 360, PS3, Wii, and PC. Now it's time for Tony Ponce and I to enter the hardcore, baby-making world of portables. With the Nintendo DS going out with a ...

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IT'S HERE! Layton movie comes to America next week


Nov 02
// Tony Ponce
Back in July, Viz Media promised to localize Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva for American shores. Well by golly, it kept its word! The company just sent out a press release to announce that the Layton movie will arrive ...

Review: Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Oct 20 // Allistair Pinsof
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (Nintendo DS)Developer: Level-5, Brownie Brown (London Life only)Publisher: NintendoReleased: October 17, 2011MSRP: $29.99 Whereas last year's Layton entry, The Unwound Future, gave us a glimpse at future Luke and Layton, Last Specter takes us back to the beginning of their friendship. Professor Layton is the same charming, famous, and brainy man he's always been. Luke, on the other hand, is a social misfit in search of his true calling. After receiving a mysterious letter from the mayor of the sleepy, comfy town of Misthallery, Layton and his attractive and confident assistant Emmy go to investigate. The mayor happens to be an old friend of Layton, though they haven't kept in touch over the years. Nevertheless, Layton feels sympathy for the mayor's son Luke (yes, that Luke), who is troubled by the strange disappearance of his mother and even more so by apocalyptic visions that he's been having lately. An ominous, lumbering mystical creature has been attacking the town every night, and Luke seems to be the only one with a clue. On the mayor's order, Emmy and Layton investigate the situation. Unbeknownst to the mayor, they take Luke out of the house for the investigation as well, though Luke's reluctant father doesn't seem to mind or even notice. The story and cast of The Last Specter are the best yet in the series, which alone makes the game worth picking up. You'll be happy to hear than that the puzzles are also just as worthwhile. The variety of puzzles and increasing challenges will entertain both returning fans and newbies. Sliding blocks, riddles, mazes, math puzzles -- man, I hate math puzzles -- they're all here! Well, all except matchstick puzzles, which should make most sane people happy. Being the fourth entry in a yearly series, it shouldn't come as a surprise that some puzzles are recycled from past entries. The graphics and wording are redone, but the tricks and solution at the puzzles' core remain the same. This doesn't happen as nearly as much as you would think, though, given the numerous amount of puzzles (150+). If nothing else, it's a collection of greatest hits for newbies and a welcome break in challenge for veterans. The biggest problem with Last Specter, which has plagued all series entries, is the over-arching design of the game. A Professor Layton game is two things: a visual mystery novel and a collection of interactive Akira Tago puzzles. The series has always struggled to find ways to seamlessly blend the two. The transitions from character introduction to puzzle are less awkward in Last Specter -- largely thanks to a referential, humorous script -- but I still find much to complain about here. I absolutely hate tollways in games. Like, when an RPG won't let you enter an area until you are at a certain level, or when you can't progress to the next mission in a game until you have completed enough side-missions. As with past titles, Last Specter has moments where it will tell you that you can't continue until you do 25, 50, or 80 puzzles. It really kills the momentum and flow of the narrative. As a result, these games make me feel like I'm rubbing my stomach and patting my head at the same time. When I want to just enjoy the narrative and the main, plot-based puzzles, it stops me and sends me packing in the other direction. When I want to just relax and play some puzzles, the game inconveniences me with plot and poorly organized systems. For example, why must I search for the location of a previous puzzle I chose to leave undone? What does that add to anything? Why not just let me enjoy that puzzle from anywhere? I already discovered it, right? Although exploration is still time-consuming, Last Specter has a warp system (via Bucky's boat rides on the city's canals) that makes things easier. You'll enjoy your first couple of trips through areas on foot, since Misthallery is full of early-1900s decor and zany citizens that makes the world of Layton such a romantic and comfortable one. Misthallery sets a new bar for amusing, eccentric Layton inhabitants. It's hard to say why exactly they are crazier than usual, but it definitely keeps things interesting. My favorite character is a toss-up between a boy who thinks he is a bird, a homeless maniac who laughs at everyone's misfortune (including his own), and Goosey, a fat, mentally-stunted teenager who hides -- despite being too fat to hide anywhere -- and exclaims "That's Goosey!" when he's found. It's kind of creepy yet adorable. In nearly every aspect, Last Specter feels most faithful to the original in its design, story, and structure. It improves on the format in subtle ways but fails to evolve the series in others. Instead of chasing more ambitious ideas (how about a Professor Layton where players can create/share puzzles?), implementing full voice acting (still limited to animated scenes and specific events, though this may just be a limitation of the DS), or tying puzzles and story closer together, Level-5 have churned out just another series entry. Mind you, it's the best one yet, but it still comes short of reaching the concept's full potential. Still, it's difficult to damn the game's shortcomings, since no other developer has come close to achieving what Level-5 have done. Professor Layton is the only game I can get my mom to play, yet I can still enjoy it. Last Specter may not have any big twist on the format, but it's the most well designed entry yet. Perhaps there is comfort to be found in repeating a winning formula. In short, Last Specter is the best Layton yet. The inclusion of a warp system, lack of matchstick puzzles, and memorable cast makes it just a notch better than the Curious Village. However, the series still inconveniences players who play primarily for the story or those, like me, who want to enjoy the story first and puzzles later. There are many players who feel a need to complete every puzzle as they progress. These players won't run into the problem of puzzle tollways or losing track of a previous puzzle's location. However, until the series finds a way to accommodate both types of players, I can't say the game is a must-have for all. Professor Layton's London Life "From the team behind Mother 3! One hundred hours of gameplay! RPG! RPG! YAY! OH GOD YES!!! FUUUUUuuu... just give it to me! That's it! I'm taking off my pants! I'm dancing! I'm dancing! Look at me, ma! I'm dancing!" That's me regurgitating PR sheets and blind enthusiasm for what I thought London Life may be before its release. Here's what it actually is: Shit. It's free shit that comes attached to a worthwhile game, but it's still a bummer that it's a worthless and dull bonus. Let's dispel some of this PR hogwash. First of all, the game is not really the team behind Mother 3 -- Brownie Brown primarily (only?) did that game's art. As a result, London Life looks a lot like Mother 3, which is to say that it's gorgeous. One hundred hours of gameplay? I doubt it, but we'll probably never know since most sane players will give up on it after two hours or less. I certainly wasn't going to put myself through playing the entire thing for review purposes -- it's a bonus, after all, and one that is not fun at all to play, at that. RPG? Hardly. The game is like Animal Crossing or The Sims stripped down to its bare components. You go buy things, talk to townsfolk, and decorate your minuscule apartment. The problem is that there is little else to do, and the jobs you must take, in order to acquire wealth, are as mind-numbing as they come. The entire game is based around talking to a character on one side of the map, walking to a character on the other side of the map, and repeating until you are a rich dude with a beret and large sofa. In case you want something equally dull, you can hunt for trash on the street. You'll probably end up spending less time on London Life than the puzzles within Last Specter, except those are actually worthwhile and fun. London Life may not indicate the quality of the forthcoming Fantasy Life project between Brownie Brown and Level-5, but it definitely hasn't increased my confidence. If London Life's goal was to present what it's like to be a boring, senseless peasant in the world of Layton ... well, mission accomplished!
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"Tap away and let us be bound by our love of puzzles," a man tells you during your adventures through Misthallery -- the latest haunted, puzzle-infested English town that investigator Layton and his pint-size sidekick Luke...

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Layton spin-off to bend minds on iThings


Oct 16
// Tony Ponce
You can never have enough Layton in your life! That's the rule. With that thought, Level-5 has announced Layton Brothers: Mystery Room for iOS devices. Instead of assuming the role of the ol' professor, you'll take command o...

Preview in a pub: Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Oct 07 // Wesley Ruscher
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (Nintendo DS) Developer: Level-5 Publisher: Nintendo Released: October 17, 2011 As we stared at the first puzzle, scratching our heads, we began to hear other teams in the pub celebrating as they came to its conclusion. The clock was ticking, and we all wondered if Nintendo really did invite us just to make us all feel a little stupid. When the one-minute warning went out, an epiphany hit one of my teammates and jubilation commenced. I've always associated the Layton series with being a more single-player endeavor -- though I do enjoy peering over my girlfriend's shoulder while she's playing in an attempt to outwit her -- but fast and frantically working in a team environment brought a whole new level of enjoyment from this game I had not expected. Thinking back on it, the puzzle was quite simple -- probably the reason it was the first choice -- but it got us all thinking on the same wave length. Seven coins were laid out before us, five showing heads and two showing tails. The challenge was to have an even amount of coins show both heads and tails under the restrictions of only moving and flipping over one coin. If you know the answer already, you're a smarter person than me or any of my teammates, but I won't unravel its simple intricacy here. With the first challenge down, our team was soon on a roll. We took down the next six consecutive puzzles with only a couple of close calls. Professor Layton and the Last Specter still incorporates the assist functions of previous iterations, such as notetaking in the memo and buying hints when in a predicament. For the sake of this contest, we were banned from using the hint option, but to be honest, I don't think it would have helped by the time we hit the hard puzzles. The first of the hard puzzles had us trying to figure out the code to open a locked door. An equation of shapes, representing numbers, held the key to our dilemma. It may have been some of the fine English alcohol we had consumed prior to the puzzle solving, but something told us we were in over our heads here. If you weren't aware, most journalists are only journalists because they are horrible at math. We went on to fail the next two puzzles, one dealing with pattern recognition and the other some simpler shape manipulation. We probably should have figured out the last one, but defeat had reared its ugly little head and our brains were out of gas. Part of the mystery and fascination I have always found with the series has been the clever ways the puzzles integrate with genuinely intriguing narrative. While I can't attest from my hands-on time with the latest that the professor's origin story is as captivating as his later adventures, I do feel confident from the limited puzzles I played that the charming brain-twisting trials seem to be up to par. Professor Layton and the Last Specter promises the most puzzles to grace the series, and if that's not enough, there is also a bonus 100-hour RPG -- complete with Earthbound-esque visuals -- called London Life to keep the most diligent of gamers thoroughly occupied. This may be the fourth and final foray for the Nintendo DS, but for those who've missed out on this spectacular series -- or those 3DS owners still yearning for some quality content -- The Last Specter looks to be the perfect place to become proper with the professor.
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When one thinks of great games on the Nintendo DS, it is hard not to think about any one of the Professor Layton games. Level-5's brilliantly charming and whimsical puzzle-solving adventure series is all but synonymous...

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New Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney video is juicy


Sep 23
// Victoria Medina
Remember that Professor Layton, Ace Attorney crossover news that happened a while ago? Well not only do we have screenshots for it, there is even a video! Sadly all the text is in Japanese, but Bolt2nd, the person who upload...
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Look! Fresh news and screens for Layton vs. Ace Attorney


Sep 18
// Tony Ponce
[Update: According to GamesRadar, an English release might be possible. Hmmmmm...] Guess what game wasn't playable at the Tokyo Game Show this year. Good guess if you said, "Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney"! Now, when will ...
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Layton and the Last Specter hits US October 17


Aug 29
// Conrad Zimmerman
New details have emerged regarding the release of Professor Layton and the Last Specter on Nintendo DS. The fourth installment in the puzzle-solving mystery series begins a new trilogy which acts as a prequel to the dete...
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Professor Layton movie is bound for North America


Jul 02
// Tony Ponce
You cheeky Brits have been enjoying Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva for almost a year now. Now it's time for the filthy Yanks to get our cryptic on! At the Anime Expo in Los Angeles yesterday, anime distributor Viz Medi...
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E3: Professor Layton and the Last Specter announced!


Jun 07
// Chad Concelmo
Okay, this is confusing. Just today, Nintendo announced a brand new game in the extraordinary Professor Layton series, Professor Layton and the Last Specter. But it is not for the 3DS. It's for the regular DS. And it's been ...
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Layton's first game goes platinum in Japan


Apr 05
// Tony Ponce
We know the Layton series is a moneymaker -- the first four DS games have shipped over 11 million units globally. Nonetheless, every time one of the games hits a milestone, I feel like throwing a party. Just this morning, Lev...
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3DS top game: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask


Mar 01
// Dale North
I haven't picked up 3DS game Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask yet, but some of my friends have and they're all loving it. I was wondering if it would be the top-selling title, and now Famitsu has confirmed that...

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