Professor Layton and the Curious Village

boyward - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:


Computer Platform: Nintendo DS
Produced by: Developed by Level 5; published by Nintendo
Price Range: $21-30
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: All Ages
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Reviewed By: Phil Rownd (aka boyward)

Overall Rating: ★★★★½
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 5 of 5 (none)
Adult Content: 5 of 5 (none)


Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Illustration copyrighted.

I love logic, reasoning, and the brainteasers that test my critical thinking. When the math teacher assigned me those story problems about a train leaving Chicago going 20mph and another train leaving San Francisco at 60mph and how long till they meet… I actually liked it. I like those little block puzzles where you have to move the blocks around to get the ball into the pocket at the end of the board. I like looking at an arrangement of stick matches and figuring out which one to move to create a completely different shape. I like all kinds of these puzzles. And there are precisely 120 puzzles hidden throughout the curious village of St. Mystere.

Professor Layton and his young assistant, Luke, are called to St. Mystere to find the missing Golden Apple, an heirloom belonging to the recently deceased richest man in town. Finding the Golden Apple proves difficult because every citizen of St. Mystere is obsessed with puzzles. Want to ask a citizen for some info? Fine, but you’ll have to solve his puzzle first. Need to go through the door into a building? Better prove you’ve got what it takes to go in there; solve his puzzle. The whole game is one long string of puzzles. Well, perhaps that’s not a fair assessment. Brain Age is a string of puzzles. But Professor Layton gives the puzzles a context by telling a fascinating mystery. There are 10 greater mysteries within the game to be solved, and the greatest mystery of all lies in the question: why are the citizens of St. Mystere so interested in giving you puzzles? I leave that to you to find out for yourself.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Illustration copyrighted. Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Illustration copyrighted.

Minimal. A murder is committed and you see the body. There is no blood or gore at all. You also witness a kidnapping, a narrow escape or two, and an airship doing demolition on an occupied building. These scenes are in no way frightening, and I would deem them appropriate for all ages, especially when you realize that some of those violent scenes were not in fact what they seemed to be.

Out of the 120 puzzles, only one (#98) shows a woman in a low-cut blouse.

Professor Layton is the rarest breed of video game character. He’s a gentleman. He’s well-mannered, honest, helpful, and always puts the needs of others before his own. He’s especially careful to show respect to ladies. But he’s no wimp either, demonstrating courage and strong conviction, just as Jesus did when facing down the two-faced Pharisees. The Professor also proves a capable role model for Luke, his brash assistant. When Luke complains about his problems, Layton encourages him to face those problems and deal with them head on. “Creativity and persistence!” is Layton’s motto. Finally, a father’s love for his daughter is demonstrated in a way that I won’t spoil for you, but is a sincere reminder of how deep a parent’s love can go.

There are only two bad things I can say about Professor Layton and the Curious Village. One: it’s addicting. I found myself playing longer than I should, just so I could finish “one more puzzle.” Addictive personalities, beware! Two: once you finish the game, there’s not a whole lot of reason to play it again, unless you intend to shelve the game for a year and pick it up again after you’ve forgotten all the puzzle solutions. But even so, Nintendo is offering a new puzzle every week for Wi-Fi download at no extra cost, so maybe you’ll being exploring St. Mystere for years to come.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village looks great, sounds decent, and offers a whole catalogue of brain-teasing puzzles on one little DS cartridge. It can be played in short bursts of as little as 5 minutes, or you plow through the whole thing in about 10-15 hours. Whatever pace you choose, go for it. This game is a refreshing delight. Recommended for critical thinkers of all ages.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Illustration copyrighted. Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Illustration copyrighted.

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Year of Release — 2008

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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