Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Find out how the good Professor met Luke in this puzzling adventure.
Professor Layton and the Last Specter is a wonderful game that fits like a comfy pair of slippers. Longtime fans will find everything the franchise is known for, including a wide array of eccentric characters, a satisfying mix of puzzles, animated cut scenes and a gripping story. Newcomers, meanwhile, are in for a real treat, since this is technically the first game in the series. In other words, the perfect place to start.
There's no use dancing around it. The Last Specter plays like every Professor Layton that has come before it. You'll wander through a town under siege (in this case, the foggy burg of Misthallery), poking various objects in search of hint coins, gathering clues and meeting townsfolk that'll gladly provide valuable bits of information, so long as you solve mind bending puzzles.
Speaking of which, prepare to scratch your head for hours trying to figure out a variety of challenges, from ferrying animals across a river to packing a woman's cart so that no objects overlap.
That said, some of these puzzles cover familiar ground from past Layton games, so expect new takes on classic brain teasers, though the talented developers at Level-5 did manage to shove a bunch of new challenges into the game, forcing you to stress over making the tough decision of spending hint coins or working things out on your own.
The story, meanwhile, is vintage Layton. In this case, one of the professor's good friends, Clark Triton, begs him to unravel the mystery behind a strange giant that's been tearing the city to pieces. Told through beautifully animated scenes (though, to be fair, the DS screens show their age), you'll thoroughly enjoy each twist and turn, from Layton running into his assistant, Emmy, to his trusty and more well known sidekick, Luke.
In addition, you also have a bonus game, the 100 plus hour RPG, London Life, which sort of works like Animal Crossing in that you wander through a fictitious city completing tasks for its residents, decorating your home and trying on different outfits. While not particularly gripping (too many fetch quests), the charming 8-bit graphics (think Mother 3, the Japan only Game Boy Advance RPG) and world of Layton should keep you glued for a little while.
If it doesn't, you'll find three addictive mini games stashed away in Layton's trunk, each of which offers a completely unique experience; definitely make a note to play Toy Train.
All told, Professor Layton and the Last Specter is another fine addition to the celebrated series and one of the last quality puzzle games for Nintendo's DS. Don't miss it.
What's Hot: Excellent variety of puzzles, engaging story, bonus mini games, London Life, well animated cut scenes, classic Layton gameplay.
What's Not: Similar puzzles from Layton games past, London Life grows a bit tedious.