Now, I had some passing knowledge of the Professor Layton series of puzzle games but this is the first one of them I have ever played. I came into this expecting yet another inane puzzle game with simplistic, probably over-used puzzles and a pathetic attempt at plot. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I discovered that the plot is actually fairly well thought out and the puzzles are quite hard. Some of the puzzles are familiar ones but those are vastly in the minority. To offset the difficulty of the puzzles, there are hint coins in the game that you can collect and then turn in to get hints on the hard puzzles. While the hints aren’t always amazing, they do tend to be useful for at least pointing you in the right direction. Most of the puzzles require manipulating something on the screen, at the very least to write a number or select a specific icon, using the touch screen. This is one of the better uses for the touch screen I’ve seen so far, not like some of the earlier DS games that used the touch screen just to say they had. Any puzzles that you miss or can’t solve are stored so that you can solve them later.
As far as the plot is concerned, the Diabolical Box is supposedly killing people and when the Professor’s friend acquires it, well, there starts the mystery. From there, its a lot of dialogue, exploring and puzzles to find out just what is happening and just what the Diabolical Box really is and what its doing. Herein lies my one complaint about the game thus far. There is a lot of dialogue. I have 2 and a half hours of play time logged so far and I think most of that is scrolling through dialogue. There is also a lack of save points. This limits this game for being played intermittently as I like to play puzzle games. Although, you can just close the DS and have it go into sleep mode, so its not terrible. Just watch your batteries.
Be sure to return on Wednesday when I’ll be talking about the minigames and side quests of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box!