Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS) PART TWO

Title: Professor Layton and the Last Specter
System: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Number of Players: 1
Buy It: Amazon | GameStop | PlayAsia (Japanese) (English)
Other Notes: Soundtrack available on PlayAsia | Read my review of London Life, the mini-RPG bonus game here if you missed it.

If you had asked me what I thought of brain teasers circa 2008, I'd have told you that they were a waste of time. Because they were never something I was ever good at, unlike my father, they were something actively dismissed. Worse, if an assignment called for them for homework in school (and it did, on a few occasions,) I would take an F for the homework grade rather than sit there and suffer through a bunch of puzzles that would infuriate me.

Then Professor Layton walked by, and all that changed. Between the first game's enchanting art style and charming music, I was immediately hooked, puzzles be damned. I was more enchanted by the story, characters, and settings than I was by the puzzles, but they grew on me. Now, at the fourth game in the series, I can say (without sarcasm) that I'm really glad that I took the first step into the puzzle-solving franchise. Professor Layton and the Last Specter takes everything about the series up a notch: story, puzzles, characters, and music, and keeps the entire experience as charming and magical as it was in the first game. But better.

This game (and, yes, the next two,) act as the prequel chapters towards Curious Village and give players an insight to what the gentlemanly Professor Layton was doing before St. Mystere ever became an issue and before Luke started wearing that adorable periwinkle sweater vest he always wears. The game kicks off with a few wonderfully rendered animated scenes and a few easy puzzles to get you going before you start getting kicked in the pants with new, more difficult puzzles. Veterans of the series know what to expect: puzzles ramp up in difficulty the more you play, plot twists come out of nowhere, and hint coins are still hiding in elusive spots. Newcomers to the series won't be disappointed, and the Professor walks through how everything works himself early on so that you don't get confused.

While plot twists and red herrings can still be somewhat frustrating, the story kept me engaged throughout so that I didn't get flustered enough to throw in the towel without seeing things through to the end. Even with the tomfoolery with the plot twists, I can't dock too many points from the game. It's remarkably solid, fun, and still a great way to waste a weekend. If you've been putting off getting the game, stop. Just go get it. If you've been interested in taking the series for a spin and never have, there has never been a better time to join the Professor in solving a mystery.

Bottom Line: Same Professor, but more. More cutscenes, more puzzles, more enchantment. You know, more. And bigger.

Final Score: 9/10

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