Nintendo has certainly been trying to keep its customers in top mental shape recently. Brain Age and Big Brain Academy have been popular ways for DS owners to stay sharp. With Professor Layton and the Curious Village, though, the company decided it was time to wrap mental exercises inside a story.
That part of the title is largely a failure. Everyone in the game’s town, no matter their intelligence or motives, just wants Layton or his apprentice Luke to solve a riddle or brainteaser. That said, the story is basically a larger puzzle to contain other puzzles, and can at least be a bit challenging to figure out.
That said, the puzzles in Layton are still difficult while appealing to many age groups. This is the best accomplishment of this title. They are eventually solvable to younger players, and can initially trip up the brightest adults. All are driven by touch-screen interfaces, and most involve entering a number or circling the right answer. It certainly isn’t a complicated system, but it proves to be versatile, allowing for different types of problems with the same controls.
Layton‘s graphics and menus have their own unique style reminiscent of British cartoons, and it adds a certain charm that makes the game enjoyable. The sounds are mostly ambient, but the voice clips just get obnoxious. Thankfully, none play while trying to solve riddles.
Bolstering the game’s replay value is the addition of weekly downloadable puzzles. If there’s one problem with the game, it’s that it goes by quickly, and new brainteasers solve this quite well.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a solid title with quirks that make it a unique gaming experience. It has a charm reminiscent of the Phoenix Wright series, and will likely see a cult following and many sequels as a result. It just may not be for everyone.