I am PekoponTAS. I have tourette's syndrome, and I have been a gamer my whole life. My favourite franchise is Kirby, and my all time favourite game is The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. I'm a big fan of underrated hidden gems, and I tend to have opinions on games that really conflict with the popular opinion. Anyways, glad to meet you all and stuff.
Follow me on twitter if you want. http://twitter.com/#!/PekoponTAS
In 2010 I never got around to talking about Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, which is a shame because I actually have a lot to say about it. Many people claim that Unwound Future is the best in the series, but I completely disagree. If anything, Iíd say itís the worst out of the three games. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is easily my favourite for a few reasons, and Iíll get to them as I go along. So letís take a look at why Professor Layton and the Unwound Future isnít as great as everyone says.
Now seeing as how the main reason one plays a Layton game is the story, weíre going to completely focus on that. After all, thereís not much to complain about with the puzzles, especially when theyíre some of the best in the series. If all you want to play Layton for is the puzzles, Unwound Future is a good choice. But letís be honest, Iím sure a lot of you simply use a walkthrough for the puzzles just to see what happens in the story. As you have already gathered, there will be MASSIVE spoilers in this blog for both Unwound Futute and Curious Village, so if you havenít played the games yet and intend to, exit this blog right now.
Letís talk about something I love about the first game that both sequels mess up. The first game took place all in one small village, which overall works to the gameís advantage because you get familiar with the village and all the quirky characters within it. In both Diabolical Box and Unwound Future you move around a lot, and there are a lot of characters you only see once or twice and quickly forget about. Sure the first game had a couple of one shot characters, but they were at least crucial to the plot, and even those that werenít still left an impression. In Unwound Future youíre confined to London, but you also go to the current day London, and you travel on the subway to different areas of future London. It may be the same place, but you do still move to different locations. London is simply too large to be considered one area, and because youíre spread out so much, you donít spend enough time with a lot of the characters to learn to like them.
The only sub-character I really liked in Unwound Future was Becky, a maid at Hotel Duke. You spend a lot of time with her, and sheís a genuinely likable character with a surprising amount of backstory for a sub-character. I was really disappointed when she stopped showing up, because she was easily my favourite character in the game. Since you spend so much time with her, I figured she would play a key role in the story, but sadly she just gets dropped eventually. Itís one of many aspects about the story that frustrates me.
The most likable character gets tossed aside after a while.
Another thing that really stinks about Unwound Future is what theyíve done with Professor Layton as a character. In the first game Layton was very civilized and suave, and he always kept his cool no matter what the situation. However he did occasionally blurt out something somewhat rude, and due to how calm he is most of the time, it was all the more hilarious when he did it. His final lines in the end cutscene of the first game are gentlemanly, but so unbelievably and astronomically cool that it always brings a big smile to my face. Layton didnít need to shoot guns or blow shit up to be cool, he just naturally was.
However even in Diabolical Box Layton started to act a tad strange. In the final cutscene he starts sword fighting/fencing with the bad guy, which wasnít TOO strange because fencing is generally associated with more classy people in movies, however thereís no denying that it was a tad strange. Laytonís move to ďbadassĒ was only fully established in Unwound Future when he made a coin machine gun out of a bunch of scrap metal like he was a member of the friggin A-Team, and drove his car around on a giant mecha dodging debris like he was some sort of crazy stunt driver. Now granted Layton made a pretty ridiculous flying machine in the first game, but at least he did it for rescue purposes. In Unwound Future he built a coin gun to shoot at a bunch of mafia type dudes, and while Iíll fully accept that he did that so he could escape from them, that still doesnít excuse the game for INCLUDING mafia type dudes.
Going back to Laytonís personality, while he did still have his civilized coolness in the third game, his gentlemanly act was starting to get less credible due to his interactions with Flora. Throughout the game Layton is much more of a prick to Flora than one would expect. Thereís some obvious favouritism for Luke, and there are some moments where one would expect him to be like ďYou should never make a lady blahdy bloobity blooĒ, but instead heís like ďWho cares if your dress gets wet. You walk through this sewer and like it.Ē At the end of the first game Layton takes Flora home with him to raise as his own, however Flora might have been better off waiting for someone else because as it turns out, Layton is more of a jerk than youíd think.
Also, there are flashbacks to Laytonís past throughout the game about his love interest with a young woman named Claire. (Who Iíll fully admit is one of the most charming female characters Iíve ever seen in a game) Their relationship is extremely adorable, and itís pretty funny seeing Layton get flustered, but at the same time itís a side of Layton I donít really care to see. As I said, Layton is supposed to be cool and kind of mysterious, and thus seeing Laytonís more emotional side isnít too appealing. Seeing Layton blush was something that I never really wanted to see since it looks kind of creepy in some way, and at the end of the game I was really creeped out when Layton started crying. What with his eyes being small circles, the way he cried looked extremely creepy, and if it sounds like Iím saying creepy a lot, thatís just because it is.
While itís true that every person has his or her share of personal problems, Layton is the kind of character that shouldnít be given any. Imagine for a moment if a character like Meta Knight or Willy Wonka or Falkor had some tragic past about a relationship where their girlfriend died. It would be completely stupid and out of place! Itís the same thing with Layton. (though in the anime Meta Knight did sort of have a sad tale about a dear friend of his who died in a war but the relationship of those two is only love based in icky fanfiction)
But there are a few big problems with the story that stand out above the rest. First off, thereís the fact of just how damn sad the whole experience is. Luke having to leave Layton at the end, Claire coming back to life (sort of) only to die again, Cliveís tragic past, itís just one tear jerker after another, with nothing comforting in-between.
Second, there are some really bizarre dark turns that serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than to bewilder. Granny Riddleton has been replaced by a talking bee who was a genuinely likable character. I liked Granny more, but the bee was funny and enjoyable. Then late in the game heís replaced by a friend/relative of Granny, and then she squashes the bee. Now granted the bee doesnít die, but it was really shocking, and I was pretty worried for a minute. It seemed like an overly brutal way to get rid of him.
However the most bizarre dark turn of the whole game comes from a rabbit simply known as ďSubject 3Ē. He was a rabbit who had been subjected to horrible experiments which he describes in a bit too much detail, and itís a genuinely terrifying story about this poor animal being tortured. So what was the point of it? Abso-fucking-lutley nothing. All it served to show is that the evil scientists are evil. Yeah, we kind of already got that, what with them being evil and all. Why was it necessary to include the horrific backstory for a character weíll never really see again? It just seems like Level-5 was trying to see how much they could get away with without getting a Teen rating.
One of many disturbing images in Subject 3's backstory
Thereís another weird part right near the end of the game where Layton and friends have to infiltrate a giant doomsday machine that makes the flying fortress in Pokemon 2000 look like a tamagotchi. Itís trying to blow up future London, and itís up to Layton and friends to blow up the core and use the Laytonmobile to drive off of it and fly away with the flying capabilities Don Paolo installed. I honestly had a hard time taking it seriously, no matter how cool it may have been. Just because something is cool doesnít mean itís not incredibly stupid.
However this isnít even the most ridiculous plot point in the game. Do you want to know the secret behind future London and how they time travel? Guess what, THEY DONíT! Yeah, it turns out that the time travel device is actually just a big elevator that takes them to an underground society of kidnapped people who, if I remember correctly, have been brainwashed to not realize whatís going on. This is completely ridiculous, and itís a REALLY stupid plot twist. However thatís not even the worst one.
Near the start of the game, around chapter 2 or 3, they reveal the fact that future London has been taken over by the future Layton, who has been corrupted and now rules a sort of underground mafia that has strict control of the city. The idea was really cool, and I kept ploughing through the weird plot points of the game just so I could see future Layton. So we finally get to chapter 10, and future evil Layton FINALLY appears! Then in less than 30 seconds after seeing him, he takes off his costume to reveal that he is not in fact the future Layton.
THEY SPENT THE WHOLE GAME HYPING THIS GUY UP, AND THEN THEY THROW THIS SHIT AT US?!!!
I honestly couldnít believe it when I saw it. If I had known that this wasnít in fact future London BEFORE this happened, it would have been perfectly obvious that thereís no future Layton. But this happened before that plot twist, so it was INCREDIBLY stupid, and pissed me off so much that despite loving the Layton games, I almost stopped playing right then and there. I donít care if they explain why the villain did that, and I donít care how much sense it makes to the plot, itís still unbelievably stupid, and is probably the biggest fuck you Iíve ever experienced in a game. They had such a cool idea and completely screwed it up. It was really difficult to continue playing after that.
While those are the weirdest parts of the plot, I think the biggest problem with the plot is just the plot itself. The original game easily captured the spirit of Layton the best. A fairly straightforward mystery story that sort of copied the style of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Sure it had a pretty strange final plot twist as well, what with the villagers being robots and everything, but that was just weird rather than unbelievably stupid. The first game was overall a fairly simple, and even somewhat clichť mystery story about an inheritance, a murder surrounding it, and a strange and mysterious town. Sure it was kind of clichť, but thatís a big part of what I liked about it. Iím a big fan of those sort of traditional mystery stories, so once time travel, the mafia, secret underground civilizations, and of course giant doomsday mechas enter the scene, the whole atmosphere of a traditional mystery is completely ruined. This is one of Unwound Futureís biggest downsides.
Finally, and this may seem like a strange complaint to some, there are just too many friggin cutscenes and voice acted parts. Most people would say this is a good thing, especially with animation and voice acting as great as the Layton games, and while I agree that the animation is beautiful and the voice acting is great, that doesnít stop the fact that it slows the game down. The first Layton game is easily the shortest of the three, and I think a big part of that, aside from keeping the story relatively simple, was that they didnít throw in so many damn cutscenes. They were an occasional treat, usually only included during very important parts, or when they couldnít show something with just the still pictures. As far as I can remember, outside of the intro the only other time there was voice acting was in the cutscenes. In Unwound Future they have voice acting for completely unimportant parts, and there are a few cutscenes that really didnít need to be cutscenes.
This may not be much of a complaint for most people, but for me it is. I donít play a game to watch a movie. Oh sure, Iíll most certainly read a story since itís still stimulating, but when watching a cutscene Iím not doing anything. Thatís not to say I donít enjoy TV or movies, but when the movie sections are only a minute or two long, it just feels like an interruption, like Iím sitting through a commercial. It can also be hard for me to transition from text to cutscene in the same scene and have the narrative stick with me. Iím not very good at following stories, so when it just suddenly switches like that, it can confuse me.
As for voice acted parts, as much as I enjoy the voice acting, nobody in their right mind can tell me that it doesnít slow the game down. I can easily read much quicker than the time it takes for the characters to say their lines, and thus when Iím listening to the voices, I get impatient. Granted I could just skip the voices, but since I genuinely like the voices, I donít really want to skip them, no matter how annoying it is that they're there. If the voices were only in the cutscenes like the first game, (outside the intro) it would work a lot better for me. If theyíre going to have the same still images and scrolling text, why even bother with the voices? Itís not like thereís anything interesting to look at while theyíre talking, so most likely youíll end up just reading it anyways. It may just be a weird thing that only I think, but honestly Iím not a fan of voice acting and cutscenes in games, and Unwound Future just has way too damn many of them.
I like your voice acting, but there's no reason for you to have it.
And those are my complaints with Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Do they make the game terrible? No, however in my eyes, they do make it the weakest entry in the series by far. Diabolical Box may have been pretty boring through most of the game, but at least the ending was wonderful, and it wasnít filled to the brim with stupidity. Iím honestly not sure what to expect from the upcoming prequels. Having watched Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, Iím extremely excited to see Remi, seeing as how in the movie she spin-kicked a wolf in the face and sent it flying, and Iím interested in how Luke and Layton meet, (and if any commenters who have played the Japanese version spoil anything about Specter's Flute, I will personally see to it that you get the most brutal wedgie ever) but everything after that Iím unsure what to think about. I have a strong feeling that Professor Hershel Layton will eventually wear out his welcome, because there are still three prequels and Layton vs. Phoenix Wright left to go, and if we can expect one every year, I think weíll all eventually get tired of the Layton formula. However if they want to convince me to stay interested and buy every game, all Level-5 has to say is ďThere will be no slider puzzles in future Layton titlesĒ, and Iíll be completely on board.