When a series reaches its fifth game in less than the span of five years, there becomes talk of franchise fatigue. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is indeed the fifth installment of the franchise, and the first exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. Despite having four prequels preceding it, The Miracle Mask manages to successfully keep the series fresh and relevant despite being the fifth game in just over four years.
The story of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask takes the good professor, his assistant Emmy, and his apprentice Luke to a thriving desert city known as Monte d'Or, after Layton receives a letter from an old schoolmate. The letter states the city is being tormented by the Masked Gentleman, a mysterious figure giving the town "dark miracles", such as turning townspeople into solid stone statues. It is up to Layton and his two companions to investigate, find a logical explanation for the happenings in Monte d'Or, and uncover the identity of the Masked Gentleman. The plot delves not only into events of the present, but the circumstances in Monte d'Or deal with Professor Layton's past as well. Each chapter alternates between the present and Layton's past as a teenager, showing how he became so enthralled with archaeology and especially puzzles. While some mysteries of the game are easy to ascertain before they are properly revealed, many will have you guessing until the very end. It is a touching story with plenty of questions for the player to ask.
|Get a peek into the past of Professor Layton.|
|The bottom screen shows sections of Monte d'Or.|
Outside of that chapter and moving through Monte d'Or, conversing with civilians are puzzles. These are integrated into the story at nearly every juncture. Returning players to Layton's universe know that people there will generally not assist them without first solving a puzzle, or that puzzles pop up everywhere. For instance, a casino frequenter laments in the game about losing his hard-earned cash. Rather than just give Layton and his friends his sob story, he additionally throws in a puzzle his position reminds him of.
|3D models replace the hand-drawn|
characters of previous games.
There are a variety of puzzle types: deduction puzzles, pattern-recognition puzzles, logic puzzles, math puzzles, perspective puzzles, etc. One of my favorite puzzles had me sliding penguins across an iceberg with the goal of getting the emperor penguin to the center. Others have you flipping slices of pizza over to get all of them to face up (the catch is that for each slice you flip, the adjacent ones also flip), trying to get all cats to turn brown by having them jump over one another as if you were playing a remodeled game of Chinese solitaire, and puzzles where you have to evenly divide a board into four pieces with the caveat of none of them being mirror images of each other. The fun of some of these puzzles is that the answers can be as simple or as difficult as you make them. I particularly love some of the solutions. Some are trick questions while others just require some outside-of-the-box thinking.
|My hat is off to you if you solve this puzzle.|
There are only two problems I have with the puzzles of Miracle Mask: 1) Some puzzles force you to switch between the instructions and the puzzle's image. What I mean by this is that if you have a puzzle that requires you to look at the puzzle's accompanying picture and the instructions to solve it, you're constantly and annoyingly switching between both with no option to have them on the dual screens of the 3DS simultaneously. 2) There are still many sliding block puzzles, the bane of many Professor Layton players' existence.
|Some puzzles are simpler than they seem.|
|Wind him up and watch him go.|
Professor Layton's latest upgraded its already stunning presentation from the DS for its 3DS debut. The hand-drawn characters are now three-dimensional models, but don't worry, they look excellent and they are animated splendidly. The environments are wonderfully designed, and all of the art in the game is fabulous. Like any Layton, there are fully animated cutscenes that, with the addition of stereoscopic 3D, jump out and look sensational. Additionally, like any Layton, there is an abundance of incredibly done voice acting to accompany a lot of scenes. Nintendo and Level-5 truly spared little expense in crafting the masterful presentation of Miracle Mask.
|Giddy up, Layton, Luke, and Emmy!|
[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]