Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review: Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS) PART ONE - London Life

London Life title screen
Title: Professor Layton's London Life (mini-RPG bonus game)
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E 10+
Number of Players: 1
Buy It: Amazon | GameStop | (English version) (Japanese Version)

I'll say this first: this is a review in two parts. Why? That comes next.

I bought this game the day it came out, and as of right this very second, I have not yet started the main game. That's because of this nifty little bonus RPG that Last Specter came with, called London Life. What is LL? It's one part Animal Crossing, one part Professor Layton, and one part Mother 3 (I think it was called EarthBound in English? Don't quote me on that, though.) And it's one hell of a great time.

You start off by creating a character from the top-down: looks, personality, style, the whole nine yards. Like in Animal Crossing, you start off by getting off a train in a new town and moving into your new apartment. Your furnishings are sparse at first: all you've got is a bed. Over the course of your time in Little London, though, you can buy new things and add to your room, though doing fetch quests for the other Londoners can get you some pretty nifty items that either can't be found anywhere else or are very expensive.

The game operates on two different levels: one is Wealth, the in-game currency. The other is Happiness, which affects almost everything else in the game: what kinds of fish you catch (and how often), what kinds of flowers you find in flower boxes, how much you get paid on jobs, and how well others respond to you. Of course, your happiness goes down if someone in town yells at you, but you can replenish it by making or buying food and eating it. Happiness, in most cases for London Life, is more important than Wealth, but the two are so well intertwined that sometimes it's hard to tell.

London Life player character (center) seen with
Luke Triton (left) and Flora (right)
But by now you're probably wondering where the Mother/EarthBound part comes in, right? It's all in the graphics, baby. Cute sprites looks like they could've been lifted right out of one franchise and plopped onto the other. It's not a bad thing by a long shot, either: London Life really benefits from sprite usage.

The biggest part about this game though is the part that I fear will turn players off of really playing it: it's all mission based. Don't be turned off by the fact that this is all built on fetch quests. I'm not normally a fan of mission-based games - my dislike of them kept me from really enjoying Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days - but I literally couldn't put this down. My inner completionist went balls to the walls with this and had a great time learning all the recipes, completing every single mission, and making my million-Wealth apartment all my own.

While the complete mini-story can be completed in around two hours, I had a lot of fun sinking hours upon hours into completing all the quests and helping out all the familiar faces from other Professor Layton titles.

I have no complaints with this game, at all, except maybe that it's too short. In all honesty, I would have bought this as a stand-alone game. It's that good.

Bottom Line: Mini-RPG that comes with Last Specter. Shockingly fun, lots to do, and extremely customizable.

Final Score: London Life gets a solid, well-deserved 10/10

Special Note: You can buy the game's full soundtrack here. It's beautiful, as I'd expect from a Professor Layton game.

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