Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... and they were already programmed onto the cartridge before release, I fail to see why Nintendo bothered to lock them and prevent anyone ... more
Professor of the Puzzles
Professor Layton and the Lost Future (DS)
Member Name: BitterFusion
Professor Layton and the Lost Future (DS)
Advantages: Amazing storyline, wonderful animation, engaging puzzles
Disadvantages: May be a little over the top for some people, probably too hard for young children
The notorious Professor Layton, and his apprentice, Luke, are present at a public demonstration of a time machine built by the scientist, Dr. Stahngun. Among the guests is the Prime Minister, Bill Hawks, who is invited to the stage by Dr. Stahngun to help demonstrate the machine. After initial resistance, Hawks accepts the invitation, only to disappear, along with Dr. Stahngun, when the demonstration gets out of hand. Some time after this disastrous event, Layton and Luke receive a mysterious letter from someone claiming to be the Luke of the future. They are told to visit a back street clock shop in which another time machine exists. They must travel through this time machine in order to meet the Luke of the future, and stop the evil villain that the future Professor Layton has become...
If you've played any of the other Professor Layton games, then the gameplay will be very familiar, and easy to pick up. If not, there is no disadvantage to new players, as there is a brief tutorial at the beginning of the game.
The game is essentially controlled entirely through the stylus, and is a point and click game, in which you navigate your way through the streets of London, solving puzzles and mysteries along the way. The two screens of the DS are utilised well, with the upper screen acting as a larger, overall map, demonstrating where you need to be travelling, while the touch screen acts as the immediate street view, navigable by clicking a shoe in the bottom right corner of the screen, which brings up various directional arrows. Through the touch screen, you can also interact with people on the street, in shops, and also click objects on the screen in order to uncover puzzles. Some puzzles will be hidden in more obvious locations than others, and it is worth clicking pretty much everywhere on every individual street view in order to uncover all the puzzles. By doing so, you will also uncover hint coins, which can be exchanged for clues if you are struggling with a puzzle.
There are a vast amount of puzzles (over 165, in case you're wondering) to solve during the game, and if you are a fan of logic problems, then this game will be right up your street. Types of puzzles range from multiple choice answer questions, to arranging certain shapes in a confined space, to figuring out a certain combination within a puzzle to reveal its answer etc. There is a Memo Pad which you can access when solving a puzzle, and this becomes particularly useful for testing solutions before entering a final answer.
Puzzles range in difficulty, and so while some will be solved in mere seconds, others may take you a frustratingly long time to get your head around. The difficulty of puzzles are denoted, as with the other Layton games, by Picarats. These are essentially points which can be earned by completing a puzzle. The harder the puzzle, the greater the Picarat value. However, for each wrong answer entered (up to the third wrong answer), Picarats are deducted, and upon completion of the puzzle, you will receive less than the full amount. Although useful for perceiving the difficulty of a puzzle, Picarats serve no real purpose during the game. They can, however, be used for unlocking bonus content accessible through the main menu.
Aside from the main puzzles to be solved throughout the game, there are also mini games which can be accessed through Layton's briefcase, which appears in the top right hand corner of the screen. These include:
- Toy Car: navigating a toy car along a specific course, using limited manoeuvres
- Parrot: designing a rope course for your parrot so that he can deliver items to certain people
- Picture Book: collecting stickers in the main story line to create picture story books
These mini games may seem trivial from my description, but I find the Parrot game, in particular, can be ridiculously difficult to complete. They all give a variation away from the main story line and game, and can be a welcome challenge if you are itching to solve a puzzle without waiting for one to appear in the main story line.
Oh, where to begin. The Professor Layton games are simply fantastic for a multitude of reasons, and I think it will come as no surprise to you that this game gets a full 5* from me.
The beauty of the Professor Layton games is that story line is very much integral to game play, and this is no different in The Lost Future. The story line is so in depth, and has so many layers, that even if you think you can predict the solution to all the mysteries the main storyline presents you with, you're going to be wrong, as there'll be some unsuspecting twist you just won't have seen coming. This game tricked me on multiple occasions, not only in the way that it managed to deceive me as to which way the storyline was going, but also as to when it finishes. There were multiple points where I thought 'Aha! This is the end!', only to find another mystery uncovered, and off I went again in search of the next solution. The good thing about the main storyline is that you can invest as much or as little into it as you like. If you're keen to just get on with the puzzles, then you can pretty much skip past a lot of the dialogue from characters by continually clicking the screen. However, if you're interested in the story line, there is a lot to take in. As such, the Layton games always give a recap of events when you resume your game, after loading your save file. Additionally, you can remind yourself of the 'mysteries' by accessing them through Layton's suitcase, or indeed access Layton's journal for a more in depth reminder of the story.
What I particularly liked about The Lost Future was that there was a return of some old familiar characters from former games, like Scotland Yard's Inspector Chelmey, who always seems to be one step behind Layton, as well as the return of Don Paolo, master of disguises and supposed nemesis of Layton. Particularly insightful to The Lost Future storyline was the glimpse given into Layton's past. We learn how and why Don Paolo decided to become Layton's nemesis, and that Layton was once in love. These little touches are a nice touch to followers of the Layton series, as they feel somewhat more personal, and give an extra depth into some of the characters' traits.
As with the other Layton games, The Lost Future did not disappoint in terms of animated video sequences, and the Layton games still remain the best use of DS potential I have witnessed in terms of animated story telling. Although only 2D cartoons, the animations in the game are exceptionally well done, and the artwork is completely unique to Layton, giving it an edge that no other series has on the DS. I also adore the quality of voice acting in sequences that are relatively important, but are not animated. These are very well done, as the voice actors truly capture the characters they are playing, and add a level of interest and depth to the games.
On the subject of audio, the music remains pretty much in line with past Layton games. The familiar accordion returns for the main parts of the game, while the delicate, dreamy like puzzle music from past games also finds its way into The Lost Future. Although I am fond of the music, I did find at times that I had to switch it off, particularly if I was concentrating on a harder puzzle. However, for the most part, the audio adds to the overall experience of the game, with sound effects relating to the story line as it unfolds.
If I had one criticism of the game, it might be that the main storyline does get a little over the top, especially as the game goes on. However, you do not play these games to get a perspective of reality, and the crazier the story, the better, right? The elaborate and unbelievable story is essentially part of the fun of playing.
There is little more to say on the matter as far as I'm concerned, apart from: GO AND BUY THIS GAME IMMEDIATELY IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO ALREADY. To own a DS and not own a Layton game is nothing short of a crime, and I thoroughly recommend The Lost Future to anyone. I would, however, say that the puzzles may be difficult for small children. As a 20 year old, I struggle with some of the more cryptic ones, and can see younger audiences struggling to complete the game. However, for those of you who love puzzles, it will be one of the best £24.99 purchases (Blockbuster.co.uk) you've ever made, and you could pick it up for even cheaper if you got it second hand...
Summary: Fantastic game
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