I’d worry that throwaway on-rails action sequences at the beginning of the latest mysterious story are becoming a trend in the new Professor Layton games on the 3DS, but it sounds like Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is to be his final adventure, and so that nips that theory in the butt. I kind of don’t believe this is the end for our top hat-wearing detective, but then again, Nintendo loves to ignore beloved characters from time to time. Regardless, these over-the-top sequences are jarring and contradictory to the series’ quirky charm–i.e., everything else–but shooting drones was at least more enjoyable and involving than guiding a horse down Monte d’Or’s winding streets.
But before I get to talking about shooting down drones in a child-friendly, cute and colorful Professor Layton videogame, let me first give y’all the setup. Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is the sixth–and possibly last–adventure. The game opens with our constant prequel trilogy cast of Layton, apprentice Luke, and assistant Emmy Altava heading to the exotic locale of Froenburg, summoned there by Professor Sycamore to assist him in reviving a long-dead civilization. At this point, I’ve played an hour or so, and now know exactly what this Sycamore character wants Layton to help him with, but anything further story details are unknown to me. Unfortunately, some nefarious fellow–who I won’t name–and his goons are also hot on Sycamore’s tail, ready to cause trouble and steal things that aren’t rightfully theirs.
Which leads us to the chase sequence. This time, instead of riding a horse and avoiding barrels, you are piloting the airship Bostonius, in quick pursuit of he-who-will-not-be-named. To slow you down, you-know-who throws out drones to attack your ship, and you must shoot them down. Now, because this is a handheld puzzle game, you’re not pulling left trigger then right trigger to take them out. Instead, you have to figure out which correct drone to shoot through a puzzle, and you shoot them by dragging the cursor over the selected one and tapping on the touchscreen. Some sections ask you to select the one unlike the others, and another might have you tapping them in a specific order. I failed a few parts, too, but the action kept going, so this seems like just fodder, something to do during an action scene instead of simply watching a beautifully animated cutscene. In truth, I’d prefer the latter.
But really now, there’s just something so charming and comforting about these games to me that I can deal with a silly throwaway tapping sequence. The music is bouncy and less like Chrono Cross this time around, and I’ve gotten so used to the 3D models now and Layton and Luke blinking that I don’t even remember how it used to be. I also love the menus and everything in Layton’s trunk and each puzzle, which I never rush through, even if I can guess the answer right away. I guess I’m trying to savor each second.
And just like with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, along with all the puzzles found in the main game, you can also connect to the Nintendo Network in order to download additional puzzles. For a whole year. These puzzles are made available weekly for a year following release, with seven puzzles made available each week; there’s some new categories to learn, as well as a few repeats from the previous edition. I am not excited to the see “bounce the ghost light off the mirrors” puzzles back for another swing.
So yeah, I’m excited to see more of the story unfold, so long as there are no more pointless action sequences wedged between intelligent sleuthing and being thorough on every scene for hidden hint coins and special items. I suspect I’ll even be sad to see it all end.