Friday, February 15, 2008

Professor Layton: Playing through

Professor Layton and the Curious Village was released on February 10th.

I didn't follow my own advice: I didn't pre-order. Fortunately though I did manage to snag a copy on Sunday fresh from the box. Unfortunately, I found I had paid $5 too much and returned it. Come on, five bucks is five bucks. I'd rather the game and a pizza instead of just the game. Am I right? I bought it the next day at another store. My point here is that it was a circuitous route that I took to get my game but get it I did.

Was it worth it? Yes, but the game isn't without a couple of flaws.

The game is perfect from an artistic viewpoint: the 2D cell-shaded figures are eye candy and hurdy-gurdy music creates the perfect atmosphere. The presentation is very cinematic and you'll feel like you're watching an anime during the cutscenes. And the localization team did a remarkable job. Almost too good; no engrish here. Charming describes this title perfectly. Beautiful looking game from top to bottom.

The meat of the game is the puzzles. How are those?

Most of the puzzles I've found are very interesting and really got me thinking. I love digging up new ones. A couple of the puzzles I've encountered so far have some problems. For example, a matchstick puzzle that I found fairly straightforward would not accept my correct answer because the matchsticks were not placed exactly where the computer was expecting them. At that point I have to spend hint coins trying to figure out how I can better place the matchsticks so I can salvage some Picarats. Some of the puzzles I've found too easy and some are near impossible without a math degree. The game does allow you to use the touchscreen as a scratch pad on most (but not all) puzzles. And the background art on the bottom screen makes it hard to see what you're writing. An option for a blank slate would have been welcome for some of the puzzles where I need to use a little algebra.

The problems though are small and I found myself overlooking them.

What we have is very original game that looks great, plays great, and has one or two minor flaws.I stand by the strong buy rating on this game. Grab a copy now if you haven't already so you'll know what the rest of us are talking about. Buy.

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