Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is the second game in a new prequel trilogy (fifth overall) and was first released in 2011 as a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS within Japan.
It is also the first game in the series for the Nintendo 3DS while previous installments released on the Nintendo DS.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, which primarily takes place one year following the events of Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, follows Professor Layton and his assistants Luke and Emmy Altava to the European city Monte d’Or as they solve the mystery of man terrorizing this city amid their annual carnival using a special mask.
Players get three save files and can skip some cut scene movies, which feature vivid colors and engaging art designs. The voice talent supports the intriguing characters well as players should have considerable interest in the character and the event they find themselves in.
This game also features an expansive character background on Professor Layton that mainly involves a female character from Professor Layton’s past named Angela Ledore. She contacts him in a letter and calls him Hershel. This game has several surprising discoveries for player new to the series while veterans will enjoy deeper character development including flashback that go back as far as 18 years.
Additional characters include several law enforcement officers/inspectors, residents who founded Monte d’Or, and Layton’s best friend Randal Ascot. The intriguing personal stories provide strong compliments the main mysteries.
Of course, solving puzzles (150 total) is the main activity with Picarats as the reward. These valued units measure puzzle difficulty and the solution reward amount. Players can also gain hint coins to accumulate for extra chances when they cannot solve a puzzle. Read the puzzle explanation carefully to save on hint coins.
In addition to solving the main group of 150 puzzles, players can use the SpotPass feature to automatically download free daily puzzles, which began on October 28, 2012 in North America and will continue for one year (Note: Wireless Internet access is required to download puzzles. The number of puzzles available per download depends on how often the download library is accessed). Mini games include small quests involving animals (remember Luke can talk to animals), flashbacks, shopkeeping and other areas.
Players control the helpful magnifying glass using the touch screen for navigation and selection. Selecting items can uncover special items, start character interactions, and allow item inspection. There is no limit to how many times players can touch the screen, so some players can get a bit obsessive and tap every area on every environment.
The magnifying glass functions also allows players to zoom in and out when the magnifying glass turns blue. Talk to people when the magnifying glass turns orange. Players can always grab collectible items and check their journal for past events and information gathered. Players can arrange their inventory in the shop
Some nice sequences that add considerable variety include a visit to underground ruins that resembles familiar dungeon crawling gameplay and a horse riding mode where Layton chases the main antagonist on horseback while avoiding obstacles though the controls are touchy and not very responsive.
The puzzles usually center on offering some assistance or uncovering clues. Sometimes assisting characters yields clue uncovering, but most situations are natural and do not feel manipulative, which allows players to slip into the story even more.
The visuals and cinematic sequences amaze even without the 3D effect. The impressive 3D effects in-game sequences affect many characters and environments. These well done effects impress so much that players will likely want more, which will likely come in future installments.
The engaging music soundtrack, composed by Tomohito Nishura includes an ending theme called “Mysterious Flower” composed by Yumi Matsutoya. No official soundtrack has been currently released, but hopefully players cannot purchase the music soon.
Weekly additional content, engaging mental challenges, and a sizable RPG-style bonus game all make this single player game a must-have (***1/2 out of four stars).
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler