The Professor Enters a New Dimension
Fans of Professor Layton here in North America have grown used to lengthy waits. Ever since the series' inception in 2007, people on this side of the globe have had to wait roughly 1-2 years before a new game came their way.
Such is the case with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, the series' first foray on the Nintendo 3DS. Having launched with the handheld in Japan back in February 2011, it has been keeping fans waiting eagerly for its arrival. And with its release coming next month, the waiting is finally close to an end.
Like last year's Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Miracle Mask takes place before the original games, in the earlier days of Layton and Luke's adventures together. This time, a letter from an old friend of Layton's leads him and Luke, as well as his assistant, Emmy, to the city of Monte d'Or, where, right as they arrive, strange things begin to happen at the hands of a mysterious masked man. As our heroes try to unravel this newest mystery, a second plot ties into the narrative, taking us back even further in time to Layton's days as a university student.
Probably the biggest change that Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask brings to the series is the visual upgrade. In moving from the DS to the 3DS, flat character sprites are replaced with cel-shaded models, so instead of still images of Layton and company placed over dialogue scenes, you have animated characters moving and reacting to their conversations. The settings, too, have gotten a neat boost visually, especially when paired up with the 3DS's 3D effect. While the characters and scenery have been upgraded, the cutscenes remain traditionally animated.
Of course, there are the puzzles. Once again, the puzzle-based gameplay that has defined Layton returns, looking better than ever. A whole new batch of new puzzles and mental challenges are spread throughout Monte d'Or, tasking players to work their grey matter to get to the bottom of the mystery of the masked man.
In addition to the puzzles that are built into the story, the game will come with special downloadable puzzles, with a new puzzle available every day for a full year after launch. As a result, players will have hundreds of brain-bogglers on top of the ones already in the game. Add to that the mini-games and bonus content outside of the puzzles, and you are looking at one Layton title that will keep your brain wracked for a long time to come.
The long wait for Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask will see its end, at last, on October 28.
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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