Name: Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Genre: Point and Click/Puzzle Game
Platform: Nintendo DS
I am not sure what drew me to Professor Layton and the Curious Village at first. To be honest, I bought it without even knowing what it was. Maybe it was because it was published by Nintendo and already sold nearly a million copies in Japan, maybe it was the charming art style, or maybe it was because I had $30 burning a hole in my wallet. Whatever it was, I went home and started my journey to see what was so curious about the Village and who in gods name was Professor Layton.
Professor Layton is, for lack of a better word, a gentleman. If people are abrasive towards them he shrugs it off, if someone needs help, he helps them, and he always takes the high road in any situation. It is interesting playing a character like this, as the industry is filled with gruff protagonists that take the “badass” approach to any situation. Layton is the anti-Marcus Phoenix and the opposite of Travis Touchdown, and as a gamer it is a bit of a relief to play as a selfless character. He and his apprentice, Luke, travel to St. Mystere to assist in finding the “Golden Apple,” a family heirloom that will unlock a massive fortune.
It will not take long to realize that the village is, indeed, curious. All of the town’s inhabitants are interesting and each is prepared to give you helpful information – with a price. They all have puzzles that they require you answer before they divulge any information to you. At first it can seem sort of abrasive, seeing as asking a man for the closest restroom could have you scribbling down algebra for fifteen minutes. After a while, though, it becomes more charming than rude as you realize that the people of the town are truly obsessed with puzzles. It is their way of life; the gentleman in the top hat would like nothing more then to make them happy.
The puzzles are the real crux of the gameplay. Some can be as simple as doing a basic math problem, or finding out which person in a lineup is lying, but others will have you wandering the room asking everyone if they have any idea what the hell the bar of chocolate means. It can be tough, frustrating, and can leave you wanting to throw your DS into a well. But after all of the huffing and puffing is over you will pick the game back up and try again. The gameplay is addictive, and the story is interesting enough to make you want to fight through mind numbing puzzles. Hint coins, found throughout the game, can help alleviate the pain and make even the hardest puzzles just slightly easier.
Production values are also through the roof in this DS title, sporting something most Nintendo published titles never have: voice acting and cut scenes. At different times throughout the game there will be fully animated sections with fantastic, movie quality graphics and impressive voicework. Every time it happens it is surprisingly interesting and hearing the characters voices makes me look forward to the next one.
The game was released a while back in Japan and did well enough to justify not just one, but two sequels. So far one of them is already confirmed for a US release, and I cannot wait. Despite any frustrations caused by the game's puzzles,I look forward to more adventures of Professor Layton and will gladly accompany him anywhere he goes.