Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
My last blog before this got digitally bulldozed: I was hosting on a pay-per-webserver and when I got a new credit card forgetting to update the account, they sent one spam-collected warning before they deleted my site. Luckily I was able to salvage most of the posts via Google Cache, with the hope that I could write a script to de-WordPress-HTMLize them, and upload again so they could see another day. I haven't done it yet, but might still. The main reason I haven't is because a) those posts had lots of images I hosted on the server as well, which makes them uglier, and b) those posts are like these, but much more boring.
But I might re-post one or two every here and there. Here's a re-post from September 4, 2009, when I was playing Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. I just got the sequel, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (official site, trailer), and most of my sentiments are still the same:
Anybody following my tweets for the past 4-5 days knows I've only really tweeted about one thing: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.
This is a breath of fresh air. Not even: I've written before about growing up during the Hollywoodization of the games industry, and in that context games like this are a fresh salad in a strip mall full of Krispy Kreme's. This game is a bargain for twice the price.
It would take a much-better planned post to cogently and coherently explain this game's genius, but to take a line from the movie Spy Game, I'll try to achieve "twice the sex with half the foreplay":
The game's puzzle mechanic is innovative and damn fun. While scores upon scores of mini-games and puzzles in the larger game isn't new (Nintendo owned and made a fortune off this mechanic previously with Brain Age, Mario Party, etc.) Layton's puzzles operate in a radically different context. Most games have puzzles that are competitive and/or timed, with their primary mechanic some physical or reactionary task and how rapidly you can achieve it (mash buttons! Simon says!).
The context of these puzzles change everything. The puzzles are non- competitive. You have unlimited time. They are cognitively fun, stimulating puzzles.
I feel that Parappa the Rapper sort of emerged in this way, in that timed button presses weren't themselves new (TASVideos demonstrates that completing most games could be thought of as a sequence of timed button presses, but Excitebike is a better example of a game with it as a central mechanic), but the context and presentation made it feel new.
This game is beautiful. Also like Parappa, the game launders its play style though gorgeous original artwork and design. Who can't love Professor Layton, with his quaint accent, speech, and manners? Who can't love Don Paolo, the eeeeevil scientist who is such a cartoon villain? Who can't love the soundtrack, the villagers?
It's always great to have a touch interface that doesn't suck. Have you ever tried designing a touch-screen interface? Or used one? Most of its proponents swear touch interfaces are more "natural," but most touch software sucks. This game feels great, however, so much so that my brother's girlfriend could feel inclined to pick it up and log 15 hours of game time in 4-5 days.
If you have a DS, get these games. If you don't, ask to borrow mine ^_^
Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to join my mailing list, drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄