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Game Info

System: Nintendo DS
Category: Puzzle Adventure
Players: 1
Release Date: February 10, 2008
Publisher: Nintendo

Over the past few months, gaming enthusiasts have come to understand that casual games are a dominant force in the market and that these types of games have the staying power that is needed in the video gaming industry. The incontrovertible success of casual games – much to the dismay of longtime videogame fans – has caused a heated debate. Will the videogame market eventually become dominated only with games that a player can pick up and play? As Zelda and Mario change from hardcore to “bridge” games, will they eventually be tweaked to the point at which no challenge will be presented to the player at all? And finally, as Japan continues to ignore traditional games such as Metroid, will developers try to cash in on simple titles?

Brain Age, Wii Sports, Wii Fit. These are titles that appear to be more “mainstream” and, therefore, can draw in a significant number of videogame newcomers. Professor Layton is another of these casual games, and, unsurprisingly, it has done remarkably well in the Japanese market. In fact, two games in the series have already been released in The Land of the Rising Sun, and one more is in development. As much as videogame loyalists appreciate hardcore games, Professor Layton deserves an equal chance, as it is a charming puzzle game, which suffers only from a few, but noticeable flaws.

The game begins with Professor Layton and his protégée, Luke, traveling to the village of St. Mystere after receiving a request to investigate a certain situation. Following the death of Baron Augustus Rheinhold, an extremely wealthy man, a mystery erupts. At the reading of Rheinhold’s will, a “Golden Apple” is mentioned. The person who discovers its hidden location will reap a huge reward – Rheinhold’s entire estate. The Golden Apple is an enigmatic item. No one quite knows exactly what this object is and ultimately, no one is able to find it. Professor Layton, in the meantime, believes that the Golden Apple possesses an underlying connection to a grander mystery. As a result, Professor Layton and Luke head off to St. Mystere, determined to unravel the entire mystery.

professor_layton1.jpg

Professor Layton and the Curious Village is best described as a point-and-click puzzle adventure. Most of the time, you will be exploring the many European-like settings on the touch screen in search of hidden puzzles and hint coins that will aid you in your puzzle-solving bouts. The most surprising aspect about the whole game is how well the puzzles are interlaced into the storyline. Most developers usually follow a safe approach, thus it is both a surprise and a delight to see a game not falling victim to conformity. A tap of the stylus is needed to travel from place to place and to converse with the locals of St. Mystere – whom, by the way, always have some puzzle in store for you to attempt to solve. Only in a handful of situations will you be forced to solve certain puzzles in order to progress. This is probably the best approach, as some may find unraveling all of the puzzles in the game to be a bit challenging.

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