Game Review: Professor Layton and the Curious Village

One of my duties at Racer X is compiling and contributing to the CD-review page of our AV Room section. Beginning with the June '08 issue, we're also printing a monthly video-game review, generally written by yours truly. I'll try to reprint them here as often as I can, starting ... now!

Transient

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
(Nintendo/Level 5)
Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: Everyone

The phenomenally successful Nintendo DS has created a fertile environment for several struggling genres: the Phoenix Wright series has brought the long-dormant point-and-click adventure back to the masses, while Brain Age and Big Brain Academy have opened up video games to a whole new audience with “mind-enhancing” puzzles. A combination of the two seemed strangely inevitable, and developers Level 5 (best known for cel-shaded Japanese RPGs like Dragon Quest VIII and Rogue Galaxy) have peanut-butter-cupped an accessible, brain-teasing gem. Guiding the titular professor and his assistant, Luke, through a twisting whodunit, players uncover clues by solving puzzles--roughly 130 of them--each testing logical thinking, visual acuity, and, occasionally, one's patience. Mapping routes for hostile neighbors, rearranging matchsticks to solve riddles, and parsing some devilishly tricky language, you'll enjoy Professor Layton even more if you have friends (and a notepad) around to help. Weekly downloadable puzzles will ensure that you keep the game within reach, and players who complete the story receive a code that will unlock some as-yet-unspecified content in the sequel.

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