Saturday, November 5, 2011

Super Mario's Nintendo 3DS Tour

Well, this is an interesting development. It seems like Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, has gone into overtime. He talks about the various features of the Nintendo 3DS (SpotPass, StreetPass, the 3D depth slider, the two outward facing cameras, etc.) in character. What do you think--grating or lovely?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3) Review

Let's end the work week right with an all-new review. Ratchet & Clank is one of my favorite franchises period, so I was mighty interested when Insomniac announced a four player co-op game in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Shall we see if it lived up to my expectations for the series?

All 4 One & One 4 All in Ratchet's Buggiest Adventure Yet

Insomniac certainly loves churning out sequel after sequel of the Ratchet & Clank series. Other series would have franchise fatigue by now, yet Insomniac chugs away and creates interesting and intriguing adventures each and every time (for the most part). This go around they're adding in a cooperative aspect to the gameplay for up to four players. The end result is Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Is this unlikely alliance of brains, brawn, and bros worthy of your precious time and bolts... er... money?

Captain Qwark has now become a president, and he accepts an anonymous invitation to receive a special award from a faithful admirer. Ratchet and Clank are beside him. When it turns out that this "award" was merely a plot concocted by the sinister Dr. Nefarious, Qwark still doesn't quite understand. Before Nefarious can exact his revenge on the trio, a mothership floats in, abducting the four. Saved by a little girl, the four decide to temporarily form an alliance to work together to get off the mysterious planet they are on. Can this team coexist? All 4 One's story is told through gorgeous cinematic videos. The only problem here is that these CGs cannot ever be skipped. Not even if one has already viewed the video. This is unacceptable for a game in 2011. No question. It's a hassle when one is slogging through a part of the game they've already played only to be greeted by an endless barrage of CGs. Poor showing, Insomniac, even if the videos are entertaining and oftentimes comical the first time through.

The gang's all here in All 4 One.

At the start of All 4 One, players choose from one of four characters: Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Nefarious. The only differences between the cast is what lines of dialogue are heard while playing and what character-exclusive weapon can be purchased for said characters. Weapons cost bolts to buy. Weapons bought can then have their ammo, power, and extra ability upgraded. For instance, the Combuster, a pistol, can be upgraded to shoot three bullets that spread out instead of just one shot. Bolts are earned by smashing boxes and by completing levels with the most creatures collected, most bolts gathered, and most enemies defeated.

While there's no list of trophies for doing so, each of the four characters has to collect their own color of Hero Bolts. There are forty-something Hero Bolts in the game to collect. They're hidden just out of normal reach in areas where the camera doesn't normally focus on. Costumes are unlocked for gathering these. Ratchet can turn into a ninja, snowman, or even a robotic pirate. Shiver me timbers, Ratchet! Aside from Hero Bolts, skill points return. These unlock when a player accomplishes certain in-game tasks from leveling up weapons to beating a portion of a level without taking any damage.

All 4 One is divided up between areas which are then divided up between fairly linear levels. There's seldom any chance to go off the beaten path. Players are competing against one another to collect the most bolts as well as helping each other clear the levels. One level has players running from a giant monster stalking them in Luminopolis while another has players grinding on rails, leaping over electrical charges, and avoiding gaps. Then there's using a jet pack to slowly descend an obstacle-laden mine shaft. Levels are about ten-to-twenty minutes long, and it takes anywhere from seven-to-ten hours to beat the game.

Nothing like the daily grind to keep things going.

All 4 One can be played solo with a computer-controlled partner or with friends, strangers, or a combination of the two. When playing alone the computer helps out as one would expect it to. Cooperative puzzles are the norm in All 4 one, and they range from sucking up a partner with the Vac-U device and shooting them across an otherwise uncrossable chasm, using a mortar slam on an enemy (using the Vac-U gadget to suck up a friend and then launching them on top of a foe), and smashing down a series of buttons that cannot be hit by someone by their lonesome as they're spread out too far. When the computer dies (which happens annoyingly a lot), they will respawn after about five seconds. If both players die at the same window of time, they must start at the last reached checkpoint. Thankfully, there's a decent amount of these checkpoints, so there's not much in the way of redoing large portions of a given level. When two or more players use the same weapon on the same foe, a circle enlarges over the enemy, causing a huge energy reaction called Overload. This attack does more damage than an attack by someone by themselves. Overloads are key in taking out giant enemies more quickly.

Witness the awesome power of the Overload technique!

Speaking of giant enemies, there's a myriad of mighty bosses to beat and take out. My personal favorite encounter has everyone riding on jetskis, avoiding the chomps of an underwater behemoth as well as leaping over mines. This goal here is to charge up several electrical rods in order to electrocute the aquatic annoyance. Other encounters are more traditional in their design, but they allow for some serious teamwork, hectic action, and cooperative combat.

Bosses have an insatiable thirst for destruction 24/7.

Additionally, players can hop online (pending they have a PSN Pass. Thanks, Sony). When playing online, one can opt to host or find a game. When finding a game, players can select if they want to find games by which character they want to use, by level, by difficulty, and by games already in progress or not. When someone joins a game, the host can decide whether to let them join immediately, thus transporting everyone back to the last reached checkpoint, or whether to have them wait. Hosts can kick unruly guests out of their games during gameplay. As everyone shares the same screen, teams must work together to move at the same time. Transporters, cannons, and launchers that blast players to new areas of levels will only function when all teammates have pressed the triangle button on the aforementioned mechanisms.

Unfortunately, not all is well when playing with more than one person. I've experienced cheap deaths from imperfect camera angles, been pushed off cliffs by the camera, and even saw someone die in the shop screen. This made it impossible to continue, and I had to quit the game and go to the PlayStation 3's XMB. How does that even work? Sometimes one's hookshot wouldn't grab onto the correct character, meaning certain death for the player, and other times players got caught on enemies. To say All 4 One is buggy is doing the game a disservice. It's way worse than that.

Each players gets four hits before they die. Collecting Nanotech restores lost health, and those who lose all their vitality perish. When a player dies, they lose a portion of their bolt total. Those who are down can be revived by another player's Vac-U, but there's a strict ten second time limit. If the player is not revived by then, all players must start at the last checkpoint they arrived at.

Players share the same screen,
so they must stay together at all times.

All 4 One is one graphically impressive game. The lighting is phenomenal, the art design is astonishing, and the animations of every creature, critter, character, and monster is marvelous. That's not to say that the title is technically sound. Far from it. When the action gets heated and there's tons of explosions happening all around, the game slows to a crappy crawl. Online play can occasionally be plagued with lag, and in a game where precision jumping is required, this makes for some serious frustration. On the sound side of the spectrum, the orchestral score is appropriate for every level and sounds superb. The voice acting is well done as one has come to expect of the Ratchet & Clank franchise. All-around, a mixed bag when it comes to the presentation of All 4 One.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is bittersweet for me. On one hand, playing with four people against insurmountable odds is appealing. That said, the execution isn't as great as it should be with cheap deaths, a confounding camera, and glitches galore. This might just be the worst Ratchet & Clank game in a long line of excellent titles which is unfortunate. I had high hopes for a cooperative Ratchet & Clank, but these technical issues keep it from being anything other than just slightly above average.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.5/10]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Top Five Sitcoms

Let's go off-topic for a moment, yes? The sitcom or the situation comedy-- a hallmark of the television landscape. There's been some great ones that I've enjoyed, some more than others. The following is a list of my top five favorite sitcoms.

5) Coach

Before Craig T. Nelson turned into a conservative mouthpiece who idiotically wanted government out of his Social Security (Wait, what?), he was Coach Hayden Fox for the University of Minnesota and then the coach for the Orlando Breakers. At first he is not married to Christine. This later changes at around season three where they live together and tie the knot. My favorite character of the show is played by the great Jerry Van Dyke (Dick Van Dyke's brother) who at the last episode stated something along the lines of "I'm not going anywhere. I'm coming back tomorrow." These hilarious moments helped shape this ABC comedy as one of my top five favorites.

4) Night Court

This courtroom sitcom was wild and wacky. Starring Harry Anderson, known earlier for his role on Cheers as a magician, Night Court progressively had crazier plots, sillier jokes, and off-the-wall premises. Without a doubt my favorite character from the show would have to be the slimy, sleazy Dan Fielding, played by the incomparable John Larroquette. You almost felt sorry for the guy later on in the show. Unfortunately, the show was pulled by NBC late in its life without any fanfare. The actors and actresses were simply told to clean out their lockers and go. Very classy, NBC. I laugh at your current misfortune.

3) The Cosby Show

What many consider to be the ultimate family sitcom, The Cosby Show brought with it an affluent African-American family from Brooklyn. You had the father, Heathcliff Huxtable, the family man who one could just imagine how spectacular he'd be as their father, you had Clair Huxtable, Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy. The first two seasons are without a doubt my favorites. They had everything-- amusing situations, great jokes with excellent punchlines, Cosby at his sharpest, and cute, little Rudy. Olivia is a poor substitute in my opinion. The Cosby Show was a ratings blockbuster, reigning at number one on the Nielsen list for the longest time. The show went out on top before it got too old. With warm memories and humorous and natural dialogue, The Cosby Show ranks number three on my list.

2) Roseanne

While not the most photogenic main character on television, Roseanne lent her comedic talents in sitcom form with this nine season show. Actually, let's forget that ninth season ever happened, shall we? It's for the best. Roseanne not only was funny, but so was Dan Conner played by John Goodman. Their relationship and chemistry led to some unforgettable moments. The thing I dislike about this show, however, comes in two varieties: 1) Roseanne becomes a man-hating annoyance midway through season six, and 2) Jackie becomes an irritating joke character by the end of the show. Regardless, my favorite season would have to be season four. It was truly the show running at all cylinders.

1) The Golden Girls

Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia make up the players in The Golden Girls, my personal favorite sitcom of all time. One could ask what does a young adult have in common with four elderly ladies, and the answer is not much. I obviously couldn't relate to most of their problems, yet the jokes, plots, and characters are ones that I love tremendously. From Dorothy's constant threats to send her mother back to Shady Pines retirement home to Blanche's rampant sexual escapades to Rose's numerous Saint Olaf stories, The Golden Girls was seven seasons of pure comedic bliss. Bea Arthur (RIP) who played Dorothy wanted out after the seventh season while the show was still on top. The other girls went on to a CBS spin-off entitled "The Golden Palace" where we saw them take care of a Miami hotel, glimpsed at a young Don Cheadle, and revisited Cheech Marin. The show was canceled after only one season.


There you have it, my list of unorthodox faves. You have shows that I never got in to like Cheers, Frasier, among others. You have shows that barely missed the list like All in the Family, Wings, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World. And you have shows I can't find the funny in like Friends and Seinfeld. What about you? If you're from outside the United States, what sitcoms are indigenous to your area of the world that you love? Let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grand Theft Auto V Debut Trailer

As promised by Rockstar Games, the debut trailer for GTAV has been revealed today. It shows the habitat where players will be let loose in-- San Andreas. Additionally, there's jetskis, blimps, sportscars, and much more to travel around the city with. No solid release date has been stated, nor has there been a confirmation of platforms. You can bet that it'll probably be PS3, 360, and PC though.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) Overview Trailer

Showing off some dastardly dungeons, boss battles, enemy encounters, and story snippets, this The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword overview trailer may be in Japanese, but it gives viewers a clear scope on what this highly anticipated game has to offer. Check out the trailer below or click on the direct link to watch and be amazed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review Round-Up - October

Beware the bat. His game ranks at the top of the
heap in the haunted month of October.

The month of Halloween is complete. A whole slew of reviews were written and posted last month-- twelve in all. We started strong with Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (8.5), moved onward with our momentum with The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition (8.25), went retro with Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins which earned a 7.5, had our first hardware review with the Wii (8.0), murdered Ganado, Majini, and other psychopaths in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D which also got an 8.0, hyped up Sonic Generations with two Sonic the Hedgehog games (Sonic 4 - 6.75, Sonic Rush - 8.0), partied hardy with Mario in Mario Party 3 which received a gift of 7.25, Final Fantasy Tactics A2 scored well with a 9.0, our game of the month in Batman: Arkham City flew into my heart and retrieved a 9.5, Tetris: Axis stacked up an 8.0, and finally, the latest Professor Layton game netted a 9.0. Overall, a busy month at SuperPhillip Central.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) - 8.5
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition - 8.25
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB, 3DS VC) - 7.5
Wii Hardware - 8.0
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D (3DS) - 8.0
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (PSN, XBLA, WiiWare) - 6.75
Sonic Rush - 8.0
Mario Party 3 (N64) - 7.25
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (DS) - 9.0
Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360) - 9.5
Tetris: Axis (3DS) - 8.0
Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS) - 9.0

Nothing like a specter to throw a wrench into things.

Central City Census - November

The month of haunts, spooks, thrills, and chills is behind us already. Can you believe it? Before we dive head first into November, let's view the Census from October.

Have you ever been in costume as your favorite video game character?

Yes, I cosplay regularly.
5 (15%)
Yes, once or twice for Halloween.
6 (18%)
Yes, on occasion.
4 (12%)
No, but I've wanted to.
7 (21%)
No, there's been no inclination.
11 (33%)

The majority of voters have not dressed up as a video game character. Either they've wanted to, or they've had no desire to. I'm in the latter camp. Nonetheless, five voters are regular cosplayers, six SPC readers have dressed up once or twice for the Halloween holiday, and four of you have dressed up on occasion. Who have you guys dressed up as? I have a Mario cap I earned from Club Nintendo, but that's the extent of my costume crusades. Let's examine November's Census, shall we?

eBay and other sites of its ilk are pretty popular in buying, selling, and trading video games as well as other media and goods. Do you frequent auction sites to buy, sell, or trade games? That is the question that November's Census has to ask.

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) North American Advertisement

The North American commercial for the upcoming Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo 3DS has been uploaded to the YouTubes by Nintendo themselves. The advertisement features a young lad running from spiked balls, leaping from platform to platform, and leisurely strolling through a Mushroom Kingdom-inspired paradise. The SPC review for Super Mario 3D Land will come out a week or so after the game's November 13th release date.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Top Five Scariest Enemies

It's Halloween all over the world, so what better occasion than today to show off my top five scariest enemies in gaming lore? These baddies give thrills, chills, and enough frights to last a long and lengthy lifetime. After you check out my entries why not write a brief list of your own to compare with? With that out of the way, let's get to the countdown.

5) Crimson Heads (Resident Evil series)

Introduced in the Resident Evil remake on the Gamecube, Crimson Head zombies are zombies that reanimate themselves, are faster than normal zombies, and take off more damage. It makes an already intense game in Resident Evil all the more intense because if you neglected to blow the head off a given zombie, when you return to a room in the game, they can rise up from the ground and chase after you. They're extremely quick and do a lot of damage, so it's important to take care of zombies before the fact, or else they'll turn into Crimson Heads. As if vanilla zombies weren't intimidating enough, a room full of speedy Crimson Heads is even more troubling.

4) Redead (The Legend of Zelda series)

The only non-horror game on this short countdown is The Legend of Zelda. The first time Redeads appeared was in Ocarina of Time as they were found in crypts, in the bottom of the well mini-dungeon, and in Hyrule Town's grim future. They attack by glaring straight at Link, freezing him in his tracks as they let out a deafening scream. They then slowly saunter their animated corpses over to their unfortunate target, wrap their bodies around their assailant's back, and begin choking (perhaps even biting) the life out of them. It almost looks naughty what they're doing-- humping their prey. Redeads and their stronger mummy version in Gibidos are some of the creepiest enemies in gaming today. Ocarina in Time 3D only enhanced my feelings on this matter.

3) Scissorman (Clock Tower series)

In Clock Tower, a series mainly found on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Scissorman is a stalker who comes after the player during inopportune times throughout the game. Perhaps it's when the player is attempting to solve a puzzle or simply moving about the game. When Scissorman is spotted, the player must retreat, hide (though this scissor-clad stalker can hide in the same areas, so be careful!), or die. The "scissor" in Scissorman stands for the huge pair of bloody shears the enemy carries around, ready to snip the head or limb off his prey. There's nothing worse than feeling helpless in a point-and-click adventure game, and Scissorman delivers this feeling in spades whenever he shows up.

2) Pyramid Head (Silent Hill series)

Constantly stalking protagonist James Sutherland in Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head is a plot point used to symbolize James' desire to be punished for his wife's premature death. Pyramid Head is a monster lacking a face, something that makes the design of this monster even more terrifying. His executioner style and ominous demeanor give off some absolutely disturbing vibes. Pyramid Head would be utilized in other games in the franchise including Silent Hill: Homecoming as well as appearing in a handful of the Silent Hill movies. His motives are usually to torment and torture the psyches of the main characters. Whatever his motives, Pyramid Head is one formidable foe worthy of being scared of.

1) Super Salvador (Resident Evil series)

The ultimate in horror, Super Salvador does not appear in the main game of Resident Evil 4. His smaller, shorter relative, Dr. Salvador, does, but he shows up in the final map of The Mercenaries mode. He's so dangerous because he wields a massive chainsaw which he flings around like a rag doll. If a player is within his hit box, the player will be decapitated instantly. There are no easy means to defeat Super Salvador either. Grenades are great, but they come in limited supplies. I generally play a cat-and-mouse game with him. I climb ladders and jump across platforms. It's through these moments where a player is temporarily invincible. Meanwhile, you can fill this mega form of Salvador with lead. Who isn't disturbed by the revving up of a chainsaw in the distance? Where is it coming from? Certainly the player is then on high alert and pulses then pound like wild.


Honorable mentions go to Piggsy from Manhunt, Adam from Dead Rising, and Regenerators from Resident Evil 4. So what are your top five scariest enemies? Let all of SuperPhillip Central know in our comments section. Happy Halloween to you all!

Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 (PS3, 360, Vita) Rocket Raccoon and Frank West Trailers

We're swiftly approaching the release date of Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Two new challengers approach-- Marvel's Rocket Raccoon and Capcom's Dead Rising star in Frank West! Scope out these two character vignettes to survey their moves and formulate team strategies.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS) Review

Starting off the new week with a new review. Makes enough sense, I believe. Today we're checking out Professor Layton and the Last Specter for the Nintendo DS, one of the last big DS titles coming out for the system. It's a swan song so to speak.

Does Hershel Layton and company stand a ghost of a chance?

Professor Layton has been a pretty busy English gentleman. He's wrapped up cases featuring a curious village, a diabolical box, and an unwound future. Probably next year he'll be partnering up with Phoenix Wright and solving the mystery of the Mask of Miracle. But for now we're witnessing the beginning of Layton's illustrious career with Professor Layton and the Last Specter. Will this game haunt the minds of players who try it out?

Last Specter begins a new trilogy in the Layton franchise. It's before Layton and Luke ever met, and it explains how the two crossed paths among other things. The story starts when Layton gets a letter from an old college buddy, Clark Triton. His typed out message informs the top hat professor of a specter that is causing problems and destroying buildings in the town of Misthallery. With new assistant, Emmy, in tow, Professor Layton rides the Laytonmobile to the rural city to investigate. There they come across a forlorn young boy named Luke who seemingly has the ability to predict when and where the specter will attack next. The questions and mysteries surrounding the specter will keep players guessing right up till the very end. As mysteries are solved, new ones pop up. What players wind up with is a touching ending that won't fail to move them. Well animated cutscenes tell part of the tale while character portraits sometimes with or without spoken dialogue tell the other part. One is definitely in for a treat with Last Specter's story.

Those new to the Layton series will easily be able to come into the mind of the professor with the easy to pick up and learn controls. The game is controlled entirely via the bottom touch screen. Layton and crew move from screen to screen by tapping on the shoe icon on the bottom right of the touch screen. Screens have objects and townspeople that can be investigated further by tapping on them. Some objects contain hint coins which we'll broach about in a minute, while others have rare artifacts, and seeing how Layton was an archaeologist, it makes perfect sense. To progress in The Last Specter, players tap people and objects to gather information about the investigation. Of course, most townspeople won't give away knowledge for free. No, it won't cost money to pry juicy info from them-- Layton and friends will have to solve puzzles.

There's over 150 puzzles to be completed in Last Specter. These range from simple to complex logic puzzles to mathematical queries to mazes to other brain-busters. One puzzle has Emmy tabulating how many bones a Tyrannosaurus Rex possesses. There's a trick to this as many puzzles in the game have. One just doesn't count each bone. Perhaps the answer is staring the player right in the face? Another puzzle involves the process of elimination while another is all about block shuffling. Meanwhile, at least two puzzles contain a Chinese checkerboard that is set up in as specific way that two marbles cannot be moved. The goal here is to clear the board save for one marble. With a series that has gone as many entries as the Professor Layton franchise, there's bound to be similar puzzles. This is true with Last Specter. Players who have gone through Curious Village, Diabolical Box, or Unwound Future will be familiar with the mechanics of some of the puzzles. Regardless, most do their job staying fresh.

As stated earlier, players can pick up hint coins through tapping certain sections of Misthallery. These coins can be used during puzzles to receive hints. There's four hints in all: three regular and one super hint which costs two coins as opposed to regular hints which only cost one apiece. The vanilla-flavored hints don't reveal too much, but the super hint practically divulges the answer to the puzzle. Be warned, however, that there is only a finite number of hint coins available, so use coins wisely. Additionally, each puzzle awards players with picarats. The more picarats a puzzle is worth, the more difficult the puzzle is. Picarats decrease with every wrong answer of a puzzle, so be careful and make sure the answer given is the correct one. At the end of the game, the player's picarat total will unlock a whole slew of bonus content from a sound test to a set of ultra-hard puzzles.

As with every other Layton game, the story is broken up between chapters. In Last Specter's case it is divided up between ten chapters and an epilogue. If a puzzle is missed somehow during the story, players can visit Granny Riddleton's shack or talk to her cat to scope out these skipped puzzles. A full list of puzzles missed is shown at the beginning of each chapter given there were any skipped.

Apart from the story puzzles there's plenty of side content for players to sink their individual or collective teeth into. For instance, early in the game Luke receives a toy train set from one of the villagers. This toy train mini-game works by giving Luke a set amount of fuel to work with. Fuel is burned by having the train move across a square (the playing field is grid-based). Luke's task is to visit every train station (station's can only be visited either horizontally or vertically and it depends on the station which is which) and reach the goal before his train's or trains' fuel runs out. This is all the while on later challenges (there are ten in all) avoiding cars, collecting fuel, moving around trees, houses, and mountains, and not colliding with other trains.

Another mini-game has Luke placing down bubbles which make the fish (whose goal it is to collect every coin within a time limit) bounce a different direction. Gold bubbles temporarily increases the speed of said fish. The last mini-game has Luke filling in the blanks of a story with a select amount of words. The premise here is to create a story that makes as much sense as possible. Finishing each mini-game completely unlocks a special set of puzzles for each individual mini-game.

For those who take the time to complete the approximately ten hour story and thirteen hours it takes to solve every puzzle (your time may vary), they may be wondering what else is left to do in-game. Well, not only are there daily downloadable puzzles to attempt, but there's an entirely different game apart from The Last Specter entitled London Life. This game has players creating their own avatar, going around Little London doing odd jobs for NPCs familiar to those who have participated in past Layton games, making money to purchase new clothes and furniture for their otherwise barren home, and accumulating as much wealth or happiness as possible. This game is completely separate from Last Specter, and it offers countless hours of entertainment for those who appreciate an Animal Crossing-like experience. Some might say that London Life alone is worth the price of admission.

The presentation of Last Specter is completely charming from the oddly shaped characters to the well done cutscenes to the excellent soundtrack that borrows themes from previous Layton games to the stellar voice work. For so many characters in the game that Layton and company meet, it's totally impressive that there's so few voice actors total. Some characters sport an English accent while others come with a Cockney dialect. It makes the entire experience seem all the more authentic and worthwhile. The localization staff certainly knocked this one out of the park when it comes to the presentation of the game.

While some puzzles may be treading familiar ground to the Layton faithful, a fair number offer new content. Professor Layton and the Last Specter is a rousing start to the prequel trilogy of games. I'm excited and enthused to see Mask of Miracle localized either by Nintendo of America or Level 5 themselves. The cast and story is full of memorable characters and moments, the score is sensational, and the amount of bonus material given to the player in the form of mini-games, downloadable puzzles, and London Life extends the life of this title by immeasurable amounts. This is one excellent swan song for the Nintendo DS, a portable device that will be known as one of the best libraries in handheld history.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]

Want more Layton? Then check out the following reviews: