Great Handheld Games: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
The ever genteel Hershel Layton returns with his first American venture onto the Nintendo 3DS. This long awaited entry into Layton's legacy has made more than a splash into the world of 3D puzzle solving. For those of you who are unaware of who Professor Layton is, allow me to bring you up to speed. Hershel Layton is a world renowned professor of archaeology and devoted to the ways of the gentleman. With a profound sense of logic, reasoning and deduction, Layton has helped authorities solve the most dumbfounding capers and nab foes that were to sly for ordinary cops. With his young apprentice, Luke, along for the ride, it's up to you to help Luke and Layton solve the mind bending brain teasers and solve this crime.
In 'The Miracle Mask', Layton is summoned to the desert oasis town of Monte D'or by a childhood friend. As Layton arrives, he immediately runs into the bazaar 'masked gentleman' who is plaguing the town with acts of malice he calls 'dark miracles'. The good Professor must investigate the town and uncover the identity of the Masked Gentleman before he can destroy Monte D'or and everyone in it. With only his wits, Layton must try to outsmart this heinous new villain before it's too late.
Overall, the story plays out like other classic Layton games: a lot of hide and seek and puzzle solving. Usually, the perpetrator remains a shocking mystery until the very end, and I'm kept guessing until the culprit is revealed. However in the case of 'The Miracle Mask', I had the villain pegged right away. I'm not sure if that means the game has a weaker story or not, but I was still entertained enough to keep playing until the very end.
The graphics have always had a very simple comic book type of feel. Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask makes the most of the included 3D feature of any 3DS games I've played so far. With the 3D activated, each person seems to jump right off the screen. It's just too bad that the 3D can't level up the games' sleepy soundtrack. While the voice over acting is at the best the series has seen so far, you really aren't missing too much. Plug in a CD or MP3 player and dive head first into puzzle solving bliss.
Puzzles range from mathematical brain teasers, to pattern problems, tests of logic, world play and Tetris style piece puzzles. Don't let them intimidate you, as you can buy hints for tough problems and in most cases, you can save unsolved puzzles for a later time. They range in difficulty from super obvious to throw-your-game-against-the-wall tough.
If you're looking for a different type of challenge, or interested in testing your brain power, give Professor Layton a chance. the characters are lovable, and the story can get downright touching. Fun and appropriate for kids of all ages, let Hershel charm you in a way that only a gentleman can.
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