COLUMN: Aaron's Backstage Pass: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Review

Updated: 11/01/2012 9:59 AM KSTP.com By: Aaron Chalich

I really like solving puzzles and I like doing brain teasers, because it challenges me. Nintendo just released a game for the 3DS called, “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” and it is full of puzzles and brain teasers. 

I had heard about this game a while ago and I really wanted to play it, when I received my review copy from Nintendo I was very excited and could not wait to pop it into my 3DS.

In Nintendo’s “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” you play as Professor Layton and his assistants Luke and Emily. Professor Layton is an archaeologist that loves to solve puzzles and mysteries. One day he gets a strange letter from his friend Angela who lives in a town called Monte d’Or.

According to the letter, the town is being terrorized by a “Masked Gentleman” who is using magic powers on them.

Professor Layton wants to see what is going on, so along with his assistants Luke and Emily they head off to Monte d’ Or to see who the “Masked Gentleman” is and why he is terrorizing the town.

I thought the story was pretty interesting and the characters were really fun. There are many different characters you meet in the game and they all are unique.

I really liked how pretty much every character you came across in the game had some information about the “Masked Gentleman.” It was either they saw what he did or knew about him or they usually had a puzzle for you to solve.

The graphics are also very good.  The animated scenes looked amazing and well done. It was exactly like watching a fully animated cartoon. The backgrounds were very detailed and so were the characters. The puzzles were very colorful and detailed and the 3D worked very well.

As you begin your journey, you learn that you need to investigate every area of Mone d’ Or and there are very detailed tutorials that explain how to do it. When you stop in a certain section of town, you can click on a magnifying glass icon on the bottom screen. This brings up a magnifying glass on the top screen. 

You use your stylus to move the magnifying glass to where you want to investigate. When there is something of interest the magnifying glass on the turns orange. If you tap the bottom screen something will happen. You could find a hint coin which I will explain in a little bit, or you may find a puzzle or you might just get some information about the area. You can also zoom into certain areas to do a more detailed investigation. 

The thing that I learned is that you have to explore every inch of the screen. I have gone back to certain areas and have found things I missed the first time.

The puzzles in the game are amazing and I can’t get enough of them. They were designed by Akira Tago, who has written many books on riddles and brain teasers. There are tons of puzzles and I don’t know how many for sure, but I can’t get enough of them.

Some of the puzzles are pretty easy, but there are some that are really difficult. I found myself overthinking a lot of the times and after I finally figured some of the tougher puzzles out, I would think to myself, “Why didn’t I see that right away.” 

Each puzzle has a “Picarat” score and the number tells you how difficult the puzzle is. The lower the score the easier the puzzle and the higher the number the more difficult it is. If you submit an answer and it’s wrong, you can redo the puzzle, but the “Picarat” score goes down. Then when you solve the puzzle you get the points. 

You can use the points to unlock different things.

Once you begin a puzzle there is a little story to set up the puzzle and then a description of what you need to figure out. At any time you can pull up the instructions of what you need to do. You can also use hints to solve the puzzle if you are having problems. As you are investigating Monte d’ Or you can find hint coins that I mentioned earlier. You can use these coins to help you solve the puzzles.

Another huge thing that is featured in “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” is “The Professor’s Trunk.” This is where all of the bonus items and information is located. You can go back and read about past events in the game and you can also replay all of the puzzles you have solved.

There are also mini games/puzzles you can play that features a robot, a store, and rabbit training game. You come across each of these things in the main story and you can go and play these at any time. These puzzles seem easy at first but eventually get very challenging.

There is also a collection of items that you can look at. As you are investigating you come across these items as well.

One thing that I thought was such a great idea is that you can download a new puzzle every day.

There is a bonus section and if you click on “Daily Puzzles” you can connect to the internet and a new puzzle will be downloaded. You can do this every day and there will be 365 puzzles available. 

I really liked Nintendo’s “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask” a lot. I really liked the puzzles a lot and they really made me think. I thought the story was great and the graphics were amazing.

Plus the fact that you can download a new puzzle every day will keep me playing this game on a daily basis. 

Aaron Chalich is a columnist for KSTP.com blogging about the latest entertainment news.