Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle
A mask that comes with wishes? How about localizing this game ASAP, Level-5? Yeah, that sounds good.
Level-5's Professor Layton is a busy guy.
In addition to starring alongside Phoenix Wright in the intriguing Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (coming soon), he also debuted in the Japanese 3DS launch title, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, which as of this writing is the best selling game for the system, at least in the land of the rising sun.
This new quest retains the series' trademark formula, as the good Professor and his assistant Luke explore a mysterious place, interacting with a variety of strange characters and unraveling pieces of the narrative by solving logic puzzles.
In this case, the two brainiacs visit the town of Montdol to locate the fabled Mask of Miracle, a powerful item that grants the owner wishes. Turns out, the mask is in possession of an evil man, who transforms most of the town's residents to stone and flies away; using his wings, of course.
From what we've heard, the game takes place in two distinct time periods, the present, and the past, where players meet a much younger Layton.
That said, expect the story to unfold through attractive anime style cut scenes, a series staple. On top of that, Level-5 designed the characters in 3D while retaining the franchise's cell shaded appearance.
On that note, the game makes use of the glasses free 3D, but it appears to have no dramatic bearing on the puzzles, aside from giving these brain teasers some neat effects; text that pops off the screen, objects with multiple layers.
As for puzzles, they run the gamut, from untying a man wrapped with balloon strings to carefully placing different pieces of food on a shelf so that customers buy it.
Past that, this appears to be the first Layton game to have action sequences. The first ten minutes, for example, find Layton on the back of a horse, chasing after the masked man. Here, players use the stylus to maneuver the horse left and right, avoiding barrels in the street.
We also noticed that Level-5 made some tweaks to navigation. Now, instead of choosing a path, you guide a magnifying glass around the screen in search of clues, and tap an area to instruct Layton to visit that location.
Finally, the game supports the 3DS' StreetPass feature, as users exchange info concerning their play styles, including time spent on various puzzles.
Factor in free daily puzzles, and Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle should be well received in the U.S. When we'll see it, though, remains to be seen, as the localization process takes a while. Our guess? 2012.