Nintendo games: you either like them or hate them. For most of the world, it's like. Among Nintendo's various cutesy-quirky franchises, a recent one--and one of Nintendo's best--happens to be the gorgeously designed puzzle adventure series known as Professor Layton. Although Japan has already seen four installments of the top-hatted man and his chipper little boy companion, English-speaking territories are only up to installment No. 2.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which hit the DS in early 2008, was a surprise critical hit and successfully balanced old-fashioned brainteasers with a graphic adventure. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is now in stores, but CNET editors Jeff and Scott got a chance to play over the weekend. Their takes are below.
Scott: Finally, a DS game worth buying! No offense, but it's been a rough couple of months since Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and Rhythm Heaven hit in the spring. Nintendo's been very quiet with its own first-party releases, and Professor Layton 2 is one of its first big titles to sink your Nintendo fanboy teeth into. But even if you're not a fan, you might want to consider becoming one.
As in Curious Village, the game opens with beautiful voice-acting and a hand-drawn animation style, a throwback that almost looks like work from Hiyao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli. While it's not exactly clear what the mystery is and why exactly Professor Layton and his boy wonder Luke end up daytripping on a train called the Molentary Express, give the game some patience and enjoy the random (and sometimes forced) puzzles. Soon enough you'll fall into the rhythm and enjoy a pretty excellent hybrid casual/adventure game.
The Professor Layton games make excellent use of the touch screen, both in navigation and puzzle-solving. One hundred fifty new brainteasers are part of the package, and Nintendo promises more available as free downloads like it did with Curious Village. It's a meaty but not epic amount of gameplay, and the 150 puzzles will take some time to figure out. In terms of the number of mysteries of sub-games available in Diabolical Box, it easily meets Curious Village and at times exceeds it.… Read more