Professor Layton, a renowned puzzle-solver, has been called to the village of St. Mystere to solve an inheritance mystery. The late Baron Reinhold's will reveals that he has hidden a great treasure somewhere in the village; but when his heirs can't find it, they hire Professor Layton. While Professor Layton searches the village for the treasure, one of the baron's family members dies mysteriously. You must now help Professor Layton solve two mysteries instead of just one.
The game is played by using the Nintendo DS stylus to point and click. The story unfolds through readable dialogue and occasional fully voiced animations which play like a Saturday morning cartoon. Everywhere you go, you meet villagers willing to talk to you, but these folks are quirky. Most challenge Professor Layton, the famous puzzle-solver, to their favorite puzzle. Thus, the puzzle-solving is incorporated directly into the storyline. Only by tackling these puzzles will the villagers reveal clues and/or give you collectible parts to other, bigger puzzles. You can also hunt for hint coins to use for help with the particularly challenging puzzles.
These puzzles cover the gamut of famous brainteasers. You will find the traditional cross-the-river challenge where you have three wolves and three chickens on one side of a river and need to ferry them across to the other side using a raft. Two can go at a time but if the wolves ever outnumber the chickens, they will eat the chickens. Another classic is the "one-line" puzzle where you have to look at a drawing and decide whether it can be drawn without lifting up your pencil or retracing a line. You will also encounter sliding puzzles, mazes, riddles, and others that require you to use critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and logic. Some are math word problems.
While this may sound like a lot of cranial work, it doesn't feel that way. All the puzzles come with three hints, which you can buy using the found hint coins. While some require solving before you can move forward, many don't. The unsolved puzzles are sent to a special house in the town where you can visit them later and try them again. But, the longer you play, the more you want to impress Professor Layton with your puzzle-solving prowess, because he critiques you after each and explains how you should have reached the correct answer.
This puzzle mystery game is a lot of fun because of the fascinating characters, outstanding graphics style, and an abundance of classic logic puzzles. Professor Layton is a British chap who reminds you of Sherlock Holmes and he's accompanied by a wide-eyed apprentice who provides some comic relief because of his naiveté. The characters you meet in the village are all eccentric and fascinating. The game uses hand-drawn watercolor graphics and occasional fully voiced animations to create a whimsical style reminiscence of the animated film The Triplets of Belleville. And with over 130 puzzles, there's a lot to challenge you. Plus, for a limited time, you can download new puzzles every week using Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection.
While children as young as age 8 will enjoy the mystery, some of the puzzles will be too hard because they require advanced math concepts. The sweet spot for this software is kids ages 12-up, including adults.
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