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Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

January 1, 2013

I’m quite fond of Professor Layton, not just because of a supposed resemblance to him. The games are always a pleasant intellectual entertainment.

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Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is the fifth installment in the Professor Layton series of video games, and the first on the Nintendo 3DS. Layton and his assistants, Emmy and Luke, are invited to the desert resort of Monte d’Or by an old friend. There, they witness the dark miracles of the Masked Gentleman terrorising the city. It is down to Layton to solve the mysteries of the Masked Gentleman, Monte d’Or and a friendship from Layton’s youth.

This is largely done by solving all kind of logic puzzles, put to Layton by the people he meets.

What can be said of Professor Layton in general can be said of this game as well. The story is as intriguing as ever, with new mysteries unfolding as older ones are wrapped up. Story elements of Layton’s past, explored as playable flashbacks, are a nice touch but are by no means groundbreaking. The puzzles are just as engaging but I do think they were on the whole easier in this installment. Only a few puzzles in the storyline were worth more than 50 picarats. There are also only 150 puzzles, fewer than in previous games, but still enough to wile away a few hours.

The characters are still vibrant and diverse as they have always been, and still obsessed with puzzles. With the advent of the 3DS, their conversational sprites have now been rendered as 3D polygons. This is a little disorientating at first but soons fades into normalcy. However, the 3D effect adds absolutely nothing of value to the game.

The music is pleasant and unintrusive as usual, but it does sound incredibly like previous soundtracks. Complacent or “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I can’t tell.

The Miracle Mask is the fifth game in the series. In terms of backstory, knowing that Layton and Luke really like puzzles is enough to catch you up. In slightly more detail, it is the second game in a prequel trilogy, chronologically coming after The Spectre’s Call but before The Curious Village. Without revealing too much, there seems to be a greater story arc developing, which will climax in the inevitable sixth installment. Which I will wait for with eager anticipation.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is a pleasant, fun game that is easy on the eyes and sport for the mind. The puzzles may not be as intellectually stretching as previously but are still entertaining. If you are new to Professor Layton and want to pick it up, I advise picking a number from 1 to 5 at random and starting with that game. It probably won’t make a difference.

And remember, critical thinking is the key to success!

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