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Professor Layton and the Curious Village


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#1 RchrdJ

RchrdJ

    Gamingsurvival.com

  • CAGiversary!

Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:26 PM

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Puzzles, puzzles, and more puzzles; that is what can be found throughout Professor Layton and the Curious Village. With the game boasting more than 120, it has no shortage of puzzles to be solved. With a cute, but rewarding story to tie all of these puzzles together, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a game that shouldn’t disappoint.


As mentioned, Professor Layton and the Curious Village does a wonderful job of telling a story; almost as if you are reading a book while you play. The basic plot of the game is that you play as Professor Layton and his apprentice/side-kick Luke. Being veteran detectives, they go to the town of St. Mystere in search of the “Golden Apple”, after receiving a message from a woman named Lady Dahlia. Once they reach the town of St. Mystere, they soon discover that the town and it’s citizens are quite strange. Throughout the game, the story progressively builds with more-and-more mysteries and twists, and then concludes them all in a nice ending.
The story is mainly told through conversations that you have with various citizens in St.Mystere. Some of the more important story points are told through cutscenes. Most of these cutscenes are the same 2D dialogue in the front, image in the back style of the regular conversations. The other form of cutscenes are fully animated scenes, featuring voice-overs opposed to text. These scenes are a refreshing break from the text heavy game, but the contraints of the Nintendo DS kind of damper them. The problem is that the videos have to be extremely compressed to fit on the DS cart. This of course makes them appear very pixleated an overall, quite ugly. However, this is only a minor stumbling point that isn’t exactly the fault of the developers.


When you are playing through these story driven cutscenes, you’ll realize that the amount of well-round characters in the game is astonishing. Every character that you talk to in the game has it’s own individual personality. Throughout the course of the game, you’ll find a ton of characters to relate to, and some that will make you laugh; while others that will make you mad. This game does not take the importance of character development lightly. There were a few points in the game where I would vividly remember conversations that I had with certain characters hours later when I would talk to them again, because the characters are so memorable.


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The gameplay in Professor Layton and the Curious Village revolves around exploring the town of St. Mystere and solving puzzles. Your movement around the town is just like a point-and-click adventure. You move from section-to-section by tapping arrows and once you are in your desired section, you tap the screen again to enter doors, or search for hint coins. As for solving puzzles, you begin by talking to someone, or tapping something, that will trigger the puzzle.


Once the puzzle is triggered, you’ll be given your instructions for the puzzle on the top screen. You will then attempt to solve the puzzle by using your brain, and writing any notes on the touchscreen. If you are stuck, you also have the oppourtunity to unlock hints using hint coins you find around the town. Finally, you input your answer either by drawing individual letters to form a word, or drawing individual numbers. Once you solve the puzzle, you are rewarded with Picarats, the amount depending on how many tries it took you to complete the puzzle. For a game that focuses so much on puzzles, the developers of Professor Layton and the Curious Village did a great job designing them. The system in which you solve the puzzle is great, and of course the creation of the head scratching puzzles that will leave you thinking for days.


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The graphics in Professor Layton and the Curious Village leave a little to be desired. All of the environments and character models are in 2D and while it’s quite bright and colourful, the environments get to be a little repetitive considering you are stuck within the confines of a small town. The graphics fit the game really well, but after tapping arrows for hours on end, moving from place-to-place, you start to wish the developers had taken a leap of faith and tried a full 3D environment.


As for sound, the music in the game fits the town perfectly. If I were to go to St. Mystere, that is the music I would want to hear while I’m walking through the town. However the music is the same song over-and-over again, and it can get on your nerves while you are very frustrated from a puzzle. During the animated cutscenes, the audio and voice-overs are great. They make you feel like you are watching a Professor Layton animated movie (which do exist). The compression of the videos ruin the sound a bit, but the translators for the game did a great job; no “All your base are belong to us” here!


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Professor Layton and the Curious Village doesn’t have much replay value. Once you solve all of the puzzles, you are essentially done the game. You can go back and replay the game; attempting to solve all of the puzzles perfectly and earn full Picarats, but there is no reason for doing that. It would have been nice if the developers put up online leader boards to award the fastest or best puzzle solvers to pad out the replay value a bit. While playing the game, there is also a puzzle you must solve by collecting pieces from puzzles you solve, and you must also organize Professor Layton and Luke’s rooms with items you receive from puzzles. These are nice little “side-quest” like games, but most of them can be completed on your first play-through of the game.


Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a game that will have you screaming in frustration, while also loving every minute of it. After all of your hard work, the ending of the game is such a nice reward. If you like any kind of puzzle solving, I highly recommend you pick up Professor Layton and the Curious Village. It may have a few short-falls, and areas that could be improved, but overall it is an excellent addition to any Nintendo DS library.


PROS:
- Addicting puzzle-solving gameplay
- Great system for puzzle solving
- Engrossing story
- Frustration is evened out by great rewards
- Calm music for a calm game


CONS:
- Animated cutscenes are horribly compressed
- Graphics are a little bland
- Could use more replay value
- Town feels a little cramped and repetitive

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