Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Curious Occurrence

I own a sleek Nintendo DS and a half dozen or so games for it. I had a lot of fun with New Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, but it's mostly been collecting dust since then. I bought Final Fantasy III for it but gave up on it after awhile. Recently, I've found reason to dust off the sleek handheld.

I was looking for a game to pass the time at work during lunch, and decided to pick up Professor Layton and the Curious Village. It's a great little puzzle game following the adventures of Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke, as they try to solve various mysteries in the town of St. Mystere somewhere in Europe. The people of St. Mystere are pathologically obsessed with puzzles and brain teasers of various sorts, and they usually won't help you until you've solved a puzzle for them. They range from relatively straightforward to some that are true mind benders. Other puzzles are hidden around the game world, and there are also puzzles closer to the jigsaw variety, where pieces are scattered around the game and you find them in hidden places or get them for solving puzzles. I'm finding pieces of what appears to be a mechanical dog, and scraps of a painting. Not sure what it's a painting of yet.

The writing is excellent and there's quite a bit of voiceovers, which is rare for a handheld game. The art is a semi-cutesy 2D cartoon style. The town and characters are detailed and memorable, and the mysteries are interesting enough to keep me interested in finding out what happened.

It's great as a mobile game because you can do as many or few puzzles as you have time for (though you'll probably find yourself wanting to do more than you have time for if you're in a hurry). At home I have a 360, Wii, and PS2, so my gaming time is constrained as it is. Playing for an hour at work this past week has been a great way to get back into the DS. I was tempted to sell it, but the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog RPG from BioWare convinced me to hold on to it. I'm glad I did.

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