Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 85/100

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Review
Developer: Level 5
Publisher: Nintendo
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

Autumn pays us another visit. And not only autumn is coming, but also the beloved Professor Layton for another adventure filled with riddles and puzzles. An excellent excuse to stay home, cozy on the couch and enjoying the tickling of your IQ in a fun way. Professor Layton, I once again welcome you in my home and life!

The fifth installment in the Professor Layton series is called “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” and it is the first time the professor is providing three-dimensional entertainment on the Nintendo 3DS!

If you are familiar with the Professor Layton series, the games always starts with a story, a challenge, and an issue in which the help of the professor is desperately needed. This game opens to Professor Layton and Luke, his self-proclaimed apprentice, walking the most astonishing seen celebration Boulevard which is very festive, very cheerful and just wonderful to experience the 3D capacity! Before you know it the festival parade is interrupted out of the blue, people fleeing everywhere, leaving the street full of destroyed decorations and petrified people. All of a sudden a masked gentleman becomes visible on top of a building, predicting the destruction of the town Monte d’Or via the power of the mask. He surprised us with a sudden appearance, but he surprises us more by magically gaining wings and flying off the scene. Emmy, Professor Layton’s assistant joins the professor and Luke, and start chasing the mysterious man with the mask, who eventually escapes with the help of some smoke bombs. The only thing he leaves behind is his cape. Will he return? What more damage can he do? And what is the power of that mask?

Now you know just a tiny little bit of what “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” is about. But this isn’t just chasing a mysterious guy. It also about visiting an old friend, Angela Ledore, who wrote a letter about strange and terrifying incidents which are going on in Monte d’Or. people stepping out of paintings, or turning into stone are just two events which shouldn’t take place!
She thinks that the Mask of Chaos is responsible for causing all these terrifying events and is threatening to destroy the city. Of course Professor Layton, Luke and Emmy are intrigued by the mentioning of the Mask of Chaos and decide to take her up on her plea for help.

On your quest to unravel the secret of the mask and the man who is wearing it, you will be treated on a marvelous and challenging adventure which is not only fun to experience but also very rewarding. The gameplay to unravel the secret is to scan each place you visit, talk to all characters, tapping objects to find special items and of course solving loads of brain teasing puzzles. While exploring the areas make use of the helpful tool, the magnifying glass, to scan each object and character. In previous games, you were tapping like crazy all over the Nintendo DS screen to find hidden items, now you use the magnifying glass which is much more easier to work with (and more relaxed). The colour of the glasses changes when it picks up a signal. For example it turns blue to zoom in and explore a secret part of the scenery or it turns orange if there is an interactive object or character to find special items such as coins, information or (oh yes) a puzzle.

Although we love to explore magnificent designed places, solving puzzles is the main ingredient to play a Professor Layton game. A true challenge for your brain with different types of puzzles; visualization, logical, slide and spot the differences. Use the memo-screen to make notes to unravel the mystery behind it or pay a coin to get a hint to solve the puzzle (up to 4 hints can be bought). Each puzzle has a certain difficulty level, the value of picarats. At the beginning of each puzzle, the value of picarats will be shown. If you solve the puzzle without making a mistake, the full value will be added to your account. If you do make a mistake, well the value drops as your knowledge did previously ;) With 150 included puzzles you can keep on testing your IQ, but more importantly helping Professor Layton solving his biggest puzzle in the game; revealing the Mask of Chaos and the mysterious masked gentleman. Once the story -mode is over, don’t forget to check the daily puzzle delivery system for 365 extra downloadable puzzles, one each day.

From a female point of view, the Professor Layton series has a steady cast with the female character Emmy Altava starring as the professors’ assistant. She’s the tritagonist in the series. Emmy is a bright and vivacious girl who loves taking pictures and keeps her trusty camera with her at all times. Emmy also boasts excellent martial-arts skills and can topple a man several times her size, making her a valuable ally. But there are also other important female characters included. The most emotional person is Lucille, Professor Laytons’ mom. She worries way too much about her son and husband and where they go to and hang out with. Well, moms, what can you say ….she always will be the star in the life of Professor Layton although a big impression is made by Angela Ledore, ever since he met her in school. And now she needs his help, but can he concentrate on the puzzles and problems, or is he more distracted by her beauty? Her name even sounds like a lovely perfume “ledore”. Last but not least … who doesn’t remember granny Riddleton who keeps track of unsolved puzzles in each Professor Layton’s game?

As it is the fifth installment in the Professor Layton series, it really feels familiar. Compare it to seeing a friend who you haven’t talked to for a while. A new story but with the same sort of gameplay we’re used to expect. What makes the difference are the impressive visuals in 3D. Will I ever forget the wonderful festival? But admittedly, the 3D hasn’t been used to the max when it comes to the design and functionality and it has hardly to none effect in puzzles. The in-game videos make use of the 3D effects but it doesn’t affect the professor, Luke, Emmy or any other character. The characters still look the same as always. The gameplay is still the same although the searching for hints, items and puzzles is now more comfortable to do with the magnifying glasses.. The story is marvelous with time shifts and surprises. Better than ever! If the storymode is over there’s enough fun to experience with extra mini-games such as training a bunny and moving robots around plus the extra download feature to get a new puzzle each day. For now we say goodbye to our lovely friends, see you next autumn again for another great adventure, puzzles and of course a fantastic story.