A Game Review by Jeremy Hardin (JHardin1112)
Game - Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Version - DS
Obtained - Review Copy courtesy of Nintendo of America
Developer - Level-5
The Last Specter is the fourth installment in the Professor Layton series of games and is a prequel to the series, taking place 3 years before The Curious Village. The story revolves around Professor Hershel Layton, a young archaeologist, his newly appointed assistant Emmy and the efforts they make to solve the mystery of the Misthallery Specter. Professor Layton receives a letter from an old friend, Clark. In the letter Clark states that his little town is in the most extraordinary predicament. At night the town comes under attack from a mysterious force and homes are destroyed. Clark seeks Layton's help in this urgent matter.
Gameplay and Controls
The game is broken down into chapters, ten in all. What would a story be if you didn't have a prologue and epilogue? Yep, those are in here as well! Each chapter is a mystery in itself, that once solved, helps you to unravel the mystery of The Last Specter. In order to progress you must solve puzzles. This is the meat of every Layton game if you don't know this by now. I'll warn you now, these puzzles are not just simple little riddles. You will need to put your thinking cap on and keep it on the whole way through. In order to navigate throughout the game you must point and click on the touch screen with your stylus. You can click anywhere on the screen and interact with many of the objects you come across. Scattered through each scene are 3 Hint Coins which can be used to purchase up to 4 hints for each puzzle you choose to solve. Sometimes, there are even hidden puzzles and hidden collectibles scattered about the scenes so it pays to click everything. Throughout the game, you will encounter a colorful cast of characters with unique attitudes and dialogue. These characters will provide you with many puzzles needing to be solved in order to progress the plot. They will also give you clues and point you in the direction you need to go and the story progresses along quite nicely. There are a total of 155 puzzles to solve, all of which are unique and interesting that it never gets old solving them, regardless if it's your 20th puzzle or 80th. For each puzzle you solve, you earn an in game currency called Picarats. The amount you earn will decrease each time you fail to solve a puzzle. I will discuss later on what you can do with these Picarats.
Besides the main story you have a good handful of other side activities to partake in. Along the way, you will meet certain townsfolk who will open them up for you. Some of these activities include Toy Train, Fish, Puppet Theater and Collections.
Set down tracks for the toy train and send it chugging to the goal! Each course has different obstacles scattered about, the courses are basic grids. You have a limited number of tracks you can lay and you must set them correctly in order for your train to reach the goal.
Send your fish out to collect all the coins floating in each tank. You must place a limited number of bubbles strategically throughout each fish tank. The bubbles will cause your fish to bounce in the opposite direction. You have a set amount of time to collect all the coins.
Direct the puppets onstage to make the play a rousing success! This activity is the least interactive, but still enjoyable to participate in. You choose from 3 different plays in which you must choose the correct actions when prompted for the characters to perform. If you choose the correct action, the play goes on. If not, the play ends. The challenge here is that the available words are not immediately available. You must uncover them while playing the main game and solving certain puzzles.
As you search the environments you will on occasion uncover hidden objects which can be added to your collection. I have yet to find out what significance they hold, but it's still rewarding when you find a new one!
As you search the environments and solve certain puzzles, you will be rewarded with more fish tanks, train tracks, actions for your puppet theater and many hidden collectibles! All these extras are unnecessary, but are very much appreciated as always.
Visuals and Sound
Full of charm. Yep, that's it. I'm done. Okay, well I don't suppose you would be satisfied if I left it at that now would you? On a serious note, the visuals and sounds are completely charming. I always enjoyed listening to the music and surveying each new area I traveled to. The visuals were always pleasing to the eye, especially the town residents with the way they looked, dressed and moved. Ever building had it own distinct look, it's own charm.
Don't think I'm letting you out of here so easily. I mean come on, we have Bonuses to cover! Professor Layton and the Last Specter also includes a small set of Bonuses for those hardcore players. You can connect with Nintendo WFC and download a weekly puzzle. You can search through your puzzle index and solve a puzzle over again, or solve one you skipped over. Plus, there is a section called "Layton's Challenges", which encourages you to "test your wits against the hardest puzzles the professor has to offer." To top it all off, there is a Top Secret area which allows you to use the Picarats (remember those from a few paragraphs back?) you earned to unlock extra stuff. Unfortunately, I am about 11oo Picarats shy of unlocking the cheapest Top Secret item!
Yes, I have played it for a little bit but really I didn't have time to check it out thoroughly before my review. What I have seen looks cool, almost like an SNES game in terms of graphics. Plus, I did get an apartment, received a bed and got a job picking up trash all within the first 30 minutes. I will give you a technical breakdown of information I am looking at right now on the menus in London Life. It seems as though your main goal is to maintain a good level of Happiness which is based upon all the decisions you make.
Inventory - Eat food to restore your happiness.
Outfit - Change into an outfit of your choice. This affects your Coolness, Impression, and Formality attributes.
Room - Change the look of your room by switching up walls, furniture, etc.
Newspaper - Not available yet (for me anyways!)
Save - too obvious!
Profile - You can view your Trait, Residence, Roommate, Days in Town, Fish Caught, Flowers Picked, Wealth, and Max Happiness.
Locals Met - View all of the Little London locals you've met thus far. Allows you to view a brief description for each person.
Livelihood - See your job titles and earnings.
Happenings - View a running record of current and past Little London events.
Concluding Overall Impressions
Professor Layton and the Last Specter is a gem of a game, full of charm, challenge and fun! The Last Specter is packed with content, witty characters, charming music and visuals, mini games and a mini RPG (London Life) to round it all out. So whether you are a fan of old or new to the series, like me, The Last Specter is a worthwhile investment and addition to your gaming library.
Final Score: 5 out of 5
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