Tag Archives: Professor Layton

Staying one time-leap ahead of the Chrono Trigger Endurance Run

Well, it happened again. Chrono Trigger got away from me. You could also say that I got away from Chrono Trigger. Either or, really. And that’s a shame, as I was making such strong progress, certainly getting further into the time-traveling RPG than ever before. Here are the links to prove it, too:

Such progress. Such dang good progress, but then some other videogames came out and grabbed me by the throat and threatened to end my existence if I didn’t give them lots of love and attention. Like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Professor Layton and the Last Specter, as well as that bonus mini-RPG thingy known as London Life. So I did. I loved them, for hours upon hours, and I still love them and am continuing to love them, but I’ve completed two out of the three so far and just took out the Layton cartridge from my 3DS for the first time in over a month. I immediately popped Chrono Trigger back in, so it’s ready and waiting.

The biggest motivation for me making a bigger dent in Chrono Trigger stems from the fact that GiantBomb is doing an Endurance Run of the game, and I’m watching, but only up to a point; once they get to where I am, I’ll be out, but right now, considering that Patrick and Ryan are lost in dino-land instead of back in their own era, I got some time. Last night, I hopped off some pterodactyls and ventured deep into¬†the Tyrano Lair to rescue Ayla’s friend Kino. I also survived a room of invisible transporters and took down Nizbell II, who was a little annoying. Didn’t figure out his pattern into mid-way through the fight, where lightning-based attacks lowered his defense, but any other kind of attack raised it. I spammed Lightning II and Ice II in the end, with Ayla using Kiss more than enough to earn her a reputation back home. I then saved my progress and turned in for the night, but I’m back. You hear that, Chrono? I’M BACK.

And so, my mission statement is now this: to finish Chrono Trigger before 2011 ends. I can do it. I must.

INTERVIEW TIME: Tara Abbamondi

Tara beat a videogame a couple weeks back–namely Professor Layton and the Last Specter–and I just had to know why this game got her good. So I came up with some Qs, and she came up with some As. And with this, I try out interviewing people on my blog. I’m probably going to do it again. Heck, if you’re reading this, there’s a high chance I’ll be pestering you very soon with questions. Ready yourself. And read on…

Name: Tara Abbamondi
Age: 25
Loves: Milk, comics, Rush, Snoopy
Hates: Joffrey Baratheon
Limit Break: Red Curl Crush
Linkage: Twitter, website

Hi, welcome to Grinding Down. You have a really interesting last name. Any relation to me?

Well, thank you for having me, and funny you should mention that…for those who don’t know, I’m Pauly’s wife.

Please tell us some of your gaming history. Did you solve a lot of puzzles as a kid?

My childhood gaming systems were the Atari, Nintendo, and Super Nintendo. I was in high school by the time I managed to get my hands on a PlayStation. I played a lot of Mario games, my favorite being Super Mario Bros 3. Also in my “frequently played” stack: Street Fighter, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country 2, Chrono Cross, Ironsword, Mickey Mousecapade [sigh], Evil Zone, DDR….and the list goes on.

What was it about Professor Layton and the Last Specter that got you hooked?

The story and art are what first drew me in, the animation sequences are gorgeous and the story kept you guessing. What also kept me playing was the fact that it was on the DS. I could go lay in bed and play, I can sit on a bus and play, I could sit outside and play. You can do a few puzzles and then put it down, and you can save at any time.

I went through an “Animal Crossing” phase last year and would play every single day. As a gift, I got the same game, but this time for the Wii. I enjoyed it for awhile, but I can’t even remember when I last played. The logistics of the DS better suit my needs as a gamer (especially when the room that the Wii and the other consoles are in is consistently an ice box. BRRR).

Did you have a favorite or least favorite puzzle?

My favorite puzzles were probably the ones I spent the most time solving. I started to get wise to the way they would fool you into choosing the wrong answer. Sometimes the answer would come too easy and you find yourself second-guessing. Always check out that negative space!

I heard a rumor that this game made you cry. Without getting too spoilery, wanna tell the world about that? Were you surprised by how emotionally connected you were to Luke, Emmy, and Layton’s adventure?

I actually can’t really go into it, basically ANYTHING I say will be spoilery. Though, if you know me well, and I know you do, you’ll know at which point that it was, that is when you finally get there. [HURRY UP, I wanna talk to someone about it!!] ūüôā

[ED. NOTE: I’m almost done with the game, I promise!]

This is the first videogame in some time that you’ve finished completely. What other games have you similarly devoured?

A lot of the games I play don’t seem to ever have real endings to them. When I played Animal Crossing, I kind of eventually stopped playing because I was pretty much done with it. Though, I did recently pick up Dragon Quest again, so hopefully now that I finally know where I’m going… I can continue and finish the game.

Most of the games I’ve played to the end were NES or SNES games and a handful of PlayStation games. My shame keeps me from listing them all.

How many hint coins do you estimate you used?

Hmmm, I’d say maybe 40 or 50? I stored a lot for a while, and I had up to 90 towards the end, I started using them then, when things got a bit more tricky.

Interested in seeing more of the series? You have the opportunity to now play them out in chronological order.

Of course! That’s the plan and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Thanks for the interview! But before you leave, can you solve this puzzle I came up with…?

C. The answer is C.

And that’s a wrap!

LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 is fun, but more of the same

LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 came out on 11/11/11, but despite that, GameStop wasn’t handing out copies until a few days later, which was a little annoying and makes me want to never pre-order with them again. This is the second time in a matter of weeks where they did not respect a game’s release date–Professor Layton and the Last Specter, yo–while every other place in existence did. So I had to wait, though the waiting wasn’t terrible as I had The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to eat up my hours. I swung by GameStop after work earlier this week, got my copy, got my pre-order bonus of a Dumbledore’s Army t-shirt which I’ve passed on to my wife, and snagged two more cheap PlayStation 2 games (Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and Legacy of Kain: Defiance, if you’re curious). Tara and I finally found some time last night and gave the game a go.

So far, it’s LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4 with the years changed in the title. That might seem like a harsh comment, but it’s not. It’s warranted. We’re literally exploring the exact same rooms in Hogwarts that we explored in the first game, destroying the same items, hitting the same chairs/desks with spells, and completing the same challenges, such as turning on all the torches for a gold brick. I already spent many, many hours doing this to get a bajillion studs and buy everything and complete the game to 100%, and it’s clear now that if we had all just waited for a product called LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-7¬†to come out, it’d be everything and above. A shame this got separated in two beings (much like the final film). The developers even then had to come up with some way to make Harry and his friends lose all their hard-earned progress, just like Samus in Super Metroid went from hero to zero; Umbridge puts a ban out on several spells, taking them out of the selectable spells list. Why couldn’t the game read my save file from LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4 and decide that I’m devoted enough to let me keep everything I already learned? I’m looking forward to moving past the school stuff and on to newer, stranger territory in Harry’s seventh year. Seems like Grimmauld Place–not where Tara and I live, but the actual House of Black–will be the second game’s new hub.

Unlocked two Achievements out of 49, with the first’s name being maybe the best name for a Harry Potter-themed Achievement thus far since Solid Snape:


Albus Percival Wulfric Brian¬†(10G):¬†Complete “Dark Times”


Off the Beaten Track (10G):¬†Complete “Dumbledore’s Army”

A review of the game’s first sixty minutes, with some funny comments from Tara, is forthcoming over at The First Hour. Will obviously let y’all know when it goes live. And whether or not the magic seeps back on in…

London Life Pauly, and the living’s easy

Have I gone into any long musings yet about London Life, the so-called mini-RPG bonus loaded with over 100 hours of gaming included with Professor Layton and the Last Specter? ::scans Grinding Down‘s archives:: Hmm…looks like a resounding no. For shame! I’ve lost a lot of Happiness.

First, let’s take a look at London Life Pauly in all his snazziness:

Pretty impressive, right? That snazzy top hat just melts your eyes. Normally, I like dressing in fairly bland clothing, the day-to-day stuff like a single-colored polo shirt or something flannel, but that 60 Formality really helps me get inside some of the fancier places in Little London, such as the casino. And you kind of want to get inside everywhere, as it opens up more quests, jobs, and people to mingle with. Let me set this all up a little better.

In London Life, you create an avatar and spend the majority of your days and nights talking with citizens, doing fetch quests for them, buying clothing, decorating your room, fishing, and earning money by completing a number of miscellaneous jobs. If it sounds a lot like Animal Crossing: Wild World, it’s because it is, with a few differences, some better and some worse: you don’t have a mortgage to pay off because you live in a tiny, small apartment studio; citizens in Little London do not really live lives, staying in their respective spots during the day and night times, speaking the same lines of dialogue over and over; and you have to be aware of your avatar’s Happiness, which I guess is a way to keep them alive. I’ve not yet run out of Happiness–though I’ve come dangerously close after some bad spouts of fishing–so I don’t really know what happens when the meter hits zero, but I don’t want to find out. A happy avatar lives better, they say. And there’s plenty to be happy about…

For starters, the writing in London Life is fantastic. And most has to do with the small observations or the flavor text for items, fish, flowers, furniture, and so on. There’s humor to be found in everything. Your avatar can basically examine anything he or she sees, and is rewarded with some text for it. Not just “It’s a desk.” This same level of attention to minutiae is prominently in Professor Layton and the Last Specter, found when tapping around the screen, and it’s greatly welcomed here. The music’s bubbly and bouncy, appropriate for each place you go into. And the graphics…my god, the spritework! It’s just heavenly, and it’s also amazing how well defined different items of clothing can be with just some simple sprites.

Okay, let’s take a look at my cramped living quarters, too:

Used to have a roommate, but he wasn’t down with my toy and stuffed animal collection, so he left. Toodles to him. Little London Pauly collects what he wants, when he wants. Not sure what the benefits of a roommate are, and I guess we share a bed Scott Pilgrim/Wallace Wells style, but whatever. With him gone, it just means I have more space to put stuff down. Such as a stack of books I recently bought. Yay!

I don’t know if there’s actually 100 hours of gaming in London Life, and I don’t really know how many I’ve already spent so far–maybe around six or seven–but there’s definitely a lot of things to do, and it’s just so dang charming that I’m going to keep on doing them until the charm wears off, which will most likely be after I stop getting newspapers full of quests every morning. Will try to check back in again, especially if I’m able to move into a larger pad or if I figure out how to open up that mysterious LOST-like hatch. Since the game is still so new and relatively obscure, there’s not a lot of info out there, which is actually kind of cool. It’s been some time since I’ve had to really figure something out for myself…

Without power, I guess I’ll play more of these DS videogames

Still no power at the Pennsylvania house, putting us last on the list, just like during Hurricane Irene. Could be a few more days; it’s really hard to guess when anything will happen up in the mountains. That means still squatting at the in-laws, which means no drawing stuff, no heated blanket, no Internet, no small comforts, and, sadly, no Xbox 360. My only source of gaming these last few days has been my 3DS, which is always at my side, but the device never gets this kind of attention normally.

I think I got Tara hooked on puzzles as she’s currently playing my copy of Professor Layton and the Last Specter and loving it. She’s even progressed further than me at this point. We’ve discovered that she’s the type of gamer that has to complete every puzzle she comes across, no matter how hard or reliant on math skills it is. Me, I’m more than content to pass the tricky ones by; it’s all about the story, cutscenes, and mini-games. Though so far, the train and fish mini-games are just as difficult, and I haven’t tried the puppet show one yet. I’d like one of them to be a bit more easy.

Anyways, here’s some short blips about what I’ve been playing as we all wait for the power to be restored…

Templars love chess

Just crossed the 80% completion mark last night in Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, but I’m currently stuck on my next goal. George Stobbart needs to head back to Spain to tell some old lady what he’s learned about one of her ancient templar relatives, but each time I head to the world map screen, Spain is untappable. Seems like there is still something to do in Paris, but I’m without a clue. Maybe I’ll look up a walkthrough today before heading back to an Internet-less abode; eh, maybe I won’t. Part of the fun in point and click games is discovery; of course, a lot of the roadblocks are merely missing a pixel or bit of dialogue. Will try again as I’d love to wrap this adventure up with minimal cheating.

There was a pretty fun chess puzzle though, where some pieces were placed on the board, and then you had to place three opposing pieces in the correct spots to achieve checkmate. Maybe for some this was a challenge, but as a hardcore chess nerd, I saw the answer rather quickly. Good to know that all those late afternoons spent during high school in chess club (and being teased for it) have paid off.

Mixing monsters magically

I haven’t really done much with Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker since I gave it a review of its first thirty minutes and watched in horror as my favorite–and only–blue slime was taken to the Great Beyond. After resurrecting Blues and grinding for a bit, I eventually made my way to the top of Infant Isle to take the Scout Pledge. This helped advance the story a bit, and Hodor met some new characters, as well as was given permission to explore two other islands for new monsters and darkonium, star-shaped metal that we need for, um, something.

Something interesting I discovered is that you can synthesize monsters once they’ve reached LV 10. This is kind of like breeding, where you take two monsters (both LV 10 or higher), and fuse them together, creating something new that can inherit specific abilities and skills from the former two monsters. I did this with Blues and somebody else, creating a weird faun-like beast. Unfortunately, the new monster pops out as a LV 1 so it’s back to grinding before I try to track down more darkonium…

Retro levels for the win

I completed the main levels in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure¬†the other day, including the final boss, which I consider beating the game. I did it alone, and it was okay, but the game’s appeal is definitely in gaming with others and trying to acquiring more rupees than everybody else. By yourself, well…you always win that race. The thing is that after you kick Vaati to the curb, you get access to the Realm of Memories, where retro-themed levels are playable. I’ve only done the first one, which is based on the first castle from The Legend of Zelda:¬†A Link to the Past, and traversing through it was like a trip back in time. Looking forward to seeing how the other retro levels are treated, even if they aren’t anything difficult.

I seriously hope we’re back in the house by the time Skyrim comes out or else…well, y’all don’t even wanna know. I mean, I can only play my DS for so long. All DS and no power make Pauly go something, something.

The newest Professor Layton game is undeniably Laytonesque

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.

How I finally found you, Suikoden III

Yesterday, according to just about every videogames-covering website ever to be put up on the Internet, was the release date for Professor Layton and the Last Specter. This is a game I’m surprisingly stoked for, and I know why. Certainly, it’s not a love for the series, as I have only played Professor Layton and the Curious Village; granted, that’s a great game, one that packaged both cinematic story and varied gameplay nicely, but I never got around to trying the next two to come out. If anything, they all seemed to be more or less that first game again, with different tweaks here and there. So, why am I all atwitter over the fourth game, which is actually a prequel where I’m assuming we learn why a grown man likes hanging out with a young boy so much?

Well, Professor Layton’s London Life. That’s why. It’s likened more to Animal Crossing than an RPG, and there’s a promise of over a hundred hours of gameplay. Yeah, duh. I think I dropped more than that on Animal Crossing: Wild World easy. With pixelated art and a focus on clothing, filling out a house like the rich and famous, and fetch quests galore…well, where do I sign over my first-born?

However, GameStop decided that Professor Layton and the Last Specter doesn’t come out on October 17, but rather October 18. Why? Why not. They make the rules, and so I disappointingly did not get to pick it up yesterday during my lunch break. When I got home from work, I had some noodles in a cup and mustered up the strength to try again; maybe the GameStops in Pennsylvania were more sensible than those in New Jersey. Nope. The one down the road in PA had no copies on their shelves either. Annoying, but kind of expected. However, this one did have a section for used PlayStation 2 games, a section that most stores have now cut due to saving crucial shelf space for things like Kinect Sports Season Two and Puppies 3D.

In my wallet, among other things, is a list. It’s basically this, but scrawled on a scrap of paper, folded and fading. I’ve been carrying it with me for many months now, and every time Tara and I come across a bin of used PS2 games, we search for those I’d like to add to my collection before they all up and vanish without a sound. I always check the “S” titles first, in hope of finding Suikoden III, a game that I never have hope of actually finding. The Suikoden games are some of my favorite RPGs, and while IV got bad reviews, V was pretty good story-wise, but is currently far away in Arizona. And I always heard good things about III, but never got around to getting it, and by the time that I did begin to earnestly search for it, the dang thing went dark, underground. Phooey.

Imagine my surprise then to find the box for Suikoden III last night, tucked safely behind a dingy copy of The Spiderwick Chronicles. And for $12.99, too. I would’ve gladly paid up to $30.00 for it, so in my mind, this was a steal. I mean, I know how high copies of Suikoden II still go for, and this kind of felt like it had the same rarity as its predecessor. Pretty sure my heart skipped a beat, and I’m so happy that I found found my copy of the game, making its acquiring all the more rewarding. I grabbed another RPG called Ys: The Ark of Napishtim¬†for a few bucks, and Tara slid a copy of Monster Rancher EVO into my hands before we hit the cash register.

I am very much looking forward to seeing what Suikoden III is all about, and you can expect coverage here and maybe somewhere else. Stay tuned, my fellow Stars of Destiny.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter to open up a new trilogy

Oh my, looks like we have another new release coming out this year for the Nintendo DS, not the Nintendo 3DS. That’s right. The 3D-less system is still kicking, and it’s gonna be kicking even higher with the fact that we’re getting another Layton title, a prequel that, um, kicks off a new trilogy. Professor Layton and the Last Specter–known as Professor Layton and the Specter’s Flute in Japan and¬†Professor Layton and the Specter’s Call in Europe/Australia–hits North American shores on October 17, 2011.

Professor Layton, newly appointed, receives a letter from an old fried requesting his assistance at the village of Mist Haley. According to the letter, a giant specter is appearing at night and wreaking havoc. It looks like everything we’ve come to expect from the series, such as top-notch animation, intriguing puzzles, and a story that is gripping and mysterious and probably not without a twist or two:

Mmm. Oh, and something else to take note of. The North American version is coming bundled with London Life, a previously unlockable RPG that looks and plays a lot like Mother 3, but is set in Luke and Layton’s universe. Yeah…jump for joy on that ticket. Supposedly, it’s of the 100+ hours ilk, and that absolutely rocks especially because it is no longer only available to those that beat the game, coming unlocked from the get-go. Not sure which I’d want to try first.

Really, at some point, I should finish up the original trilogy. I absolutely loved everything about Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and actually used that game as full-blown proof that a girl I was kinda seeing at the time should pick up a DS of her own. And she did. Those mathy puzzles, while not my thing, were definitely hers. Haven’t gotten to try the other two in the series, Diabolical Box and Unwound Flute, but maybe they’ll be a bit cheaper now that time has come to pass and a new entry is about to debut. Will have to keep my eyes peeled…