It’s been a long time since I’ve played a Professor Layton game, and that’s probably because I’ve only ever played one before, way back in like early 2008. Professor Layton and the Curious Village was a surprise hit in my eyes, a weird mix of puzzles and top-notch animation and genuine mystery and intrigue. Heck, I even used it as evidence to get a girl I was seeing then to buy a Nintendo DS Lite. I played it more for the story than anything else, but the puzzles were varied and kept me thinking, even if the math-heavy ones were too tough for my artistic brain. If anything, this series oozes charm, which always keeps me interested, and so I eagerly sought the latest iteration, Professor Layton and the Last Specter, the fourth title overall and yet a prequel to that first adventure over uncovering the golden apple.
Plus, the newest game comes with a bonus RPG/Animal Crossing sim-like thing called Professor Layton’s London Life, which is extremely adorable and charming and shockingly deep. More on that in a bit.
Dropping back into the world of Professor Layton was a warm, welcoming experience. The music, the look of buildings and cars, the animated character designs, his trunk-space–nothing had changed, and that’s a good thing. It felt like only days had then passed between this new adventure and our last outing. Even the sounds puzzles and hint coins make when found are constant.
The story so far: Professor Layton receives a letter from an old friend; in it, Clark, the mayor of Misthallery, codes a secret message, a desperate plea for help against a giant ravaging the town and townspeople to tears. Off goes the professor, picking up an assistant, too. Her name is Emmy, and she seems to know more about the professor than is necessary. Once in Misthallery, it becomes clear that more craziness is at work, with locals whispering about an oracle and specter. Puzzle-wise, I’ve tackled seven or eight now, and the hardest one was math-based and about mops. I hate mops. Other than that, one of the three minigames in Layton’s trunk unlocked, and I’ve learned just how Layton and Luke meet for the first time. Neat-o!
In Professor Layton’s London Life, you don’t actually play as Hersel Layton. Instead, you are you…or whoever you want to be. You can design your avatar to your liking, as well as picking a defining trait too–I went with shy and, well, something I can’t remember. Good cook? Sexy swagger? Moves like Jagger? Whatever, no biggie. In fact, nothing is big in this realm, as developer Brownie Brown nails the look of an old-school RPG with tiny sprites that are still instantly recognizable as characters from other Layton games. You pick up miscellaneous tasks and focus more on clothing, items for your room, and getting a job; in this way, it’s more Animal Crossing than an RPG, but there’s stats to clothing and some other grindy elements. Right now, Little London Pauly is wearing a red beret, a blue scarf, and some kickin’ pants. He’s also a janitor.
Both games are currently trying to out-charm one another, and I’m struggling with which to play more of first. It’s actually not a problem at all.