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Nintendo DS Review: Professor Layton and the Last Specter

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Professor Layton and the Last Specter is the fourth installment of the Professor Layton puzzle adventure series. This game is a prequel to the original games and begins three years before Professor Layton and the Curious Village game. In the game, Professor Layton receives a weird letter from an old schoolmate telling him about a mysterious giant that is terrorizing his town and asking Professor Layton to help him. Professor Layton heads to Misthallery with his assistant, Emmy, to try to help his old friend.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter is a puzzle adventure game. The game play takes place on the bottom screen with a map of your location appearing on the top screen. You move around in the game by using the stylus to follow arrows or click on objects and people. When you click on a person, they will speak to you and give you information you need to figure out what to do next. Speaking to different people at different points in the game will change what they tell you. Clicking on some objects will give you information about the object, launch into a puzzle, or give you a hint coin. Hint coins can be used to get hints to solve the puzzles. They are limited so don’t use them too quickly.

There are a number of different types of puzzles in this game including word games, brain teasers, riddles, etc. Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of points. As you use hints to solve the puzzles, the amount of points that the puzzle is worth decreases. While playing the game, there is a treasure chest icon that you can click on. It keeps track of the puzzles you’ve completed, provides an index of mysteries that you have discovered so far, and lets you access Professor Layton’s journal which is where Emmy keeps notes on what you’ve learned so far. There is also an icon called “Episodes” that gives you a bit more information about some areas or people. As new information appears in the journal or Episodes section, the word “new” is superimposed across that icon. You just click on the icon to read the new information.

On the top screen while you are in the treasure chest area, you can see how many puzzles you’ve solved, how many puzzles you’ve found, your total score (points), how many hint coins you have and have used, how long you’ve played and your current location. You can also make notes using the memo function. The treasure chest area has three blank icons with question marks for items you will receive as you progress through the game.

The puzzles vary in level of difficulty. Some I could solve without needing any hints at all. Some I needed all three available hints to solve. If you can’t solve a problem, you can retry it again by returning to the area that the puzzle is found in until you can solve it. I really appreciate that the puzzles are all different types, it makes for a more varied, enjoyable experience.

The graphics are fairly simple in this game but the scenes really change quite a bit from location to location. There are lots of different buildings to investigate and different characters to talk to. You can save your game throughout so it’s easy to leave and restart the game. When you do restart, the game gives you a brief overview of where you’ve been so far and what you’ve discovered in the level. There are extra free downloadable puzzles available for the game (internet connection required). There is also a bonus role-playing game called Professor Layton’s London Life where your character lives in Little London with Professor Layton and other characters from the series. You can customize your character with special clothes and collect items and furniture. Some of the items you collect will help you enter different areas of the town or do things to help out the townspeople.

If you have a tween/teen that’s into logic games and puzzles, they’ll definitely enjoy Professor Layton and the Last Specter. It’s challenging but not so hard that it stops being fun.

Professor Layton and the Last Scepter is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Alcohol Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence, Simulated Gambling.

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About Ellen Christian

Ellen is a busy mom of two teenagers who left the corporate world in 2008 to focus on a more eco-friendly life. She lives in rural Vermont where she juggles family, two blogs and a career in social media. You can find her at http://www.confessionsofanover-workedmom.com/ and http://the-socialites-closet.blogspot.com/.