It’s the Fall season again, and that means it’s time for a new Professor Layton title. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is the first title for the Nintendo 3DS and is the fifth title in the series. Luke, and Emmy are back in a brand new adventure that delves into the past of Hershel Layton and an ancient civilization.
Developed by Level-5, the game looks back into the past of Hershel Layton’s teenage years and his friends. One day Layton receives a letter from Angela, an old friend. The letter doesn’t say much, other than his help is requested. When Layton, Luke and Emmy arrive at Monte d’Or, a city bustling with tourists, a “Masked Gentleman” appears, turning people into stone. Layton gives chase only to lose the “Masked Gentleman,” leaving Layton wondering about the miracles? Are they magic, or is it a puzzle that needs to be solved?
Level-5 does a great job with the visuals and anime cutscenes. Making great use of the Nintendo 3DS’ touch screen, you can interact with various items/people and find special items. You can freely explore each map using the investigation mode, and if you think you may have missed something, don’t worry, a special friend you pick up early in the game will let you know.
Layton can be best described as the Sherlock Holmes of Japan, surrounded by a world of puzzles everywhere. The game can be a headache at times thanks to the massive amounts of puzzles. They require you to think and analyze. If you get stuck on a specific puzzle, you are able to find “hint coins” that are hidden around the game. Using one unlocks a hint, and you can buy up to five per puzzle. You’ll still need to figure it out for yourself.
I remember back in high school I would always look at word problems and think, no one will ever use word problems…what’s the point? Well I guess my math teacher can have the last laugh. I spent a good majority of the time struggling on some tough puzzles. There are roughly 135 puzzles throughout the game and 15 unlocked puzzles after you beat the game. I was able to find and beat 125 (my brain was definitely fried).
While the game doesn’t require you to beat every single puzzle, but you’ll need to figure a few that are story based to proceed. By completing quests, you unlock more mini-games and unlockables. Nintendo has also confirmed that you can also download one new map everyday for a year, meaning an extra 365 puzzles for you to test your brain.
There are quite a few mini games such as collect the flags, keeping a shop, help the robot escape, running a store and my favorite, training a rabbit to perform (it’s like Nintendog). The more puzzles and farther into the game you get, the more scenes and games you will unlock.
The game is split into chapters, and a few of them you get to play as young Layton in his hometown of Stansbury. One chapter will have you exploring a cave and solving puzzles, while controlling the character like a dungeon crawler. I enjoyed the change in the game quite a bit since it was a breather from the brain puzzles. While the dungeon exploring was linear, it was different since you could walk around and use your skills to avoid enemies and proceed.
While this is my second Professor Layton game I have beaten, Miracle Mask is amazing thanks to the 3D abilities. Playing the game in 3D makes the game and anime cut scenes quite breathtaking. You can see a big difference between the 2D and 3D modes, especially on the characters. I found myself on the 3D setting almost all the time. The changes from cutscenes to in-game graphics are well done. The games soundtrack is also great to listen to, along with all the voice dialogue in the game. I could recognize quite a few voice actors who did a great job bringing this game together.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask falls as the second game in chronological order. Playing this out of order won’t really make you miss a big part of the story. If you missed a title or two, it may get you interested in the art style of the series and its ability to punish your brain. Nothing feels better than the feeling of beating some difficult puzzles and going, “Well look at that. I did it all by myself.” This game won’t give it to you; you’ll need to earn it. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is a great and challenging game for everyone. You can play by yourself or with friends.