Professor Layton and the Curious Village review
Professor Layton Saves Gamers From the Common Video Game

The good:

~The graphics, while not overly amazing, are simple, whimsical, and well-detailed.
~The puzzles are interesting, fun, and challenging, without being too frustrating or hard to understand.
~The storyline is interesting, moves at a good pace, and will keep players guessing until the very end.
~The game itself has great replay value, with unlockable puzzles, information on characters, and a special code tied to the next game in the series.
~Full, movie-style video clips add entertainment value and a new dimension to the game.
~Voicing, music, and sound effects are well compressed, and exhibit the audio capabilities of the DS well.

The bad:

~Some puzzles require prior knowledge, which may be difficult for some players, especially children.
~Hint coins can be hard to find, and without them, some players may suffer.
~The art style may turn away some players, believing that the game is too childish.


The DS, perhaps the dumping ground of cheesy games and boring "hack and slash" products, got a shock to its system when "Professor Layton and the Curious Village" was released in Japan. Unlike other puzzle games already for the system, "Curious Village" masterfully blended together challenging puzzles and a plot line which was a mystery in itself. And it did it all with an understated, non-flashy appearance. What's not to love?

If you aren't getting a clear picture of how the game seems "understated", let me explain. The format of play is point-and-click, the graphics are 2D, and the style of art looks like it came right out of a child's storybook. If this makes you think "Gee, doesn't sound like that great of a game", then rest assured that you couldn't be more wrong. Suddenly, the game throws a great twist in the storyline - while presenting it in full movie-style video! Bombed! And you've only been playing for half an hour. Now, you can't wait to see what other tricks this little gem can stir up.

I'm afraid I can't reveal much of what you do in this game, but trust me when I say you're in for a strange experience. You start out watching the game's proper Brit protagonist, Professor Layton, and his assistant Luke as they travel to a small village named St. Mystere to settle an inheritance dispute. Right away, you see that this is no ordinary village -and the people are no ordinary people - when Luke pulls out the map, which is really a strange maze. As you progress through the story, you'll find more questions than answers, and - somehow - everything starts to make sense at the very end.

What makes this game so great is that it doesn't even pretend to be better than it is, the downfall of many a game before it. The mode of game play is strictly point-and-click, and nothing is even attempted in 3D. There's no flashiness, no boasting on the game's part, and nothing that seems out of place or glitched. But then again, there are those amazing videos, and the entire first segment of dialogue between Luke and the Professor is completely voiced over. Pretty impressive. Best of all, every little piece of audio is perfectly compressed for the DS, and sounds top-notch.

As for the puzzles themselves, the creators outdid themselves. You might have a reasoning problem one moment, in which you must think the answer out carefully (you're allowed to write on the Touch Screen). Then, when you think you have them all figured out, a puzzle comes along that requires a simple answer, and you over think it. It's the way they make you keep on your toes for everything. Puzzles range from sliding puzzles to math problems, and no two puzzles are exactly alike (although several puzzles have a few variations). If you ever get stuck, hint coins, found in every scene of the game, can help you out a bit. Just don't run out!

The art, as I've said before, is 2D, and not very jaw-dropping. It is, however, eye-catching, whimsical, and will take you back to the days of children's storybooks. The townspeople can look strange, and in come cases, downright goofy! Their look always matches their personality, though. In the game, you'll come across a hopelessly lost explorer, a flirty old woman, and a real oddball who always claims to have the scoop on everything. They'll make you giggle, shake your head, and sometimes even cause you to repeat what you read to anyone sitting nearby.

Even when you finish the main storyline, your work is far from over. There are over 100 different puzzles in the game, and most are well-hidden, so expect to be working long after Luke and Layton leave town. There's a robotic dog to be built, a painting to be assembled, and two rooms to be decorated, all resulting in even more puzzles coming to light. Also, when you beat the game, a whole slew of bonuses are unlocked, including character info and an opportunity to type in a secret password to unlock something great (only available from the second game, which will soon be released).

This game has a few problems, although none are very terrible. A few puzzles will expect you to know about certain things, such as fractions, and because of that, the game is not ideal for very young children. Hint coins change their positions periodically, and as such, require careful searching of every area. If they aren't found, some players will find puzzles very difficult. Lastly, the game's style, although a great alternative to what the DS has a lot of, may turn off players who dismiss the game as "childish".

If you enjoy puzzle games with stories, this game is a must-have. Even if you aren't sure you like puzzles and you own a DS, this game is still a must-have. The puzzles are fun and challenging, the characters lovable and memorable, and the presentation airtight and seamless. It gives your brain a workout, unlike some games do, and it'll change the way you think of the world. And best of all... there are more to come! Pick it up. You'll be glad you did.

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