COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy 3DS Review

Created: 03/13/2014 9:15 AM By: Aaron Chalich

Photo courtesy of Nintendo
Photo courtesy of Nintendo

I have always enjoyed solving puzzles and as a matter of fact, I think that is the main reason I enjoy video games so much. 

I just get a feeling of satisfaction when I complete a puzzle that is very challenging, and I think that most people also feel the same way.

This past week I got a review code for Nintendo’s “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” for the Nintendo 3DS, and I thought it was a very fun and challenging game.

“Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” is a puzzle game where you have to solve different puzzles that will really make you think.  Every puzzle is different, and it is really fun to try and figure out the solutions.  For example one of the puzzles may show you three different objects, and you have to pick out the one that is different, or you may be given a very challenging word problem.  You will have to use reasoning, critical thinking, and logic to solve these puzzles.

Some of the puzzles are easy, but some are very challenging, and you can get hints to solve them, so that is helpful.

“Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” is the third chapter in the “Professor Layton” games, and I thought the story was great.

Professor Layton receives a letter from Professor Sycamore; saying that he has found a living mummy and that he should come and see it.  Professor Layton and his assistants Emma and Luke all board an airship called “Bosonius,” and they set out to see the living mummy.  I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot, but something happens to Professor Layton, Luke and Emma that will have them traveling all over the world trying to solve one of the greatest puzzles ever and to also uncover the secrets of the Azran.

The graphics and music are amazing.  The characters and backgrounds are drawn beautifully and are very colorful. 

The 3D also looks great, and I played the game mostly in 3D.

The controls are very simple and very easy to learn.  You use the stylus for everything.  On the top right of the touch screen there is a magnifying glass icon.  If you click on that, you will go into investigation mode and a magnifying glass will appear on the upper screen.  You can move the stylus on the touch screen and that will move the magnifying glass on the upper screen.  You do this to find clues, hidden coins (can be used to get hints to solve puzzles), puzzles, or talk to people.

The magnifying glass will turn orange if there is something you can interact with.  You just tap the screen, and then the coin or puzzle will appear.  If the magnifying glass turns blue, you can zoom into an area to find more puzzles, coins and clues.

The puzzles are awesome and the themes are based on the area you are in. You are in a snow covered town in the first area that you are exploring and all of the puzzles have a winter theme to them.   For example there is a puzzle, where snowflakes are falling and you are shown four different snowflakes.  They all look very similar and one of them is not shown falling.  You have to choose the snowflake that isn’t shown.   I thought that this was great and that the themes really added to the puzzles.

When you find a puzzle, there will be a brief explanation of what the puzzle is and what you need to do to solve it.  The solution of the puzzle will not be shown, but you can use the hidden coins that you found to reveal clues to help you solve it.

Each puzzle has its own difficulty and also something called a “Picarat value.”  The Picarats are points that will show the puzzles difficulty.  The harder the puzzle, the more Picarat points there will be.  The Picarat points can be used to unlock extra content in the game.  If you try and solve a puzzle and you have a wrong answer, you will lose some of the Picarat points, and you will keep losing them until you submit the correct answer.

You can move from area to area by using the map.  The map is always displayed on the lower touch screen, and there are orange circles that show you what areas you have been to.  You can go back to areas you have already explored by taping on the circle, or you can also go to a new area by taping on the circle.  When you are investigation mode, you can go back to the map at any time by tapping on the shoe icon on the touch screen. 

Another icon that appears on the lower touch screen is the trunk icon.  There are tons of things to do here.  When you enter the trunk, all of the game’s information will be displayed on the upper screen like your Picarat points, number of puzzles you have found and how long you have been playing the game.

You can also read Layton’s Journal.  All of the information you have gathered will appear here and you can read what you have uncovered so far.

There are many strange things that happen on your adventure and you can see what mysteries that you have heard or seen in the game in the “Mysteries” section

In the Puzzle Index, you can see and replay all of the puzzles you have solved in the game.  This was fun and a nice feature.

You can also watch extra little videos about people you have meet on your adventure.  This was neat, and I liked this a lot.

Another thing that you can view in the trunk is the World Times.  Here you can view many different news reports.  If you travel to areas or talk to people in areas featured in the World Times, it may trigger new events and puzzles.

There are a few mini games you can play and they include: Dress Up, Nutty Roller, and Bloom Burst.

If you activate the StreetPass in “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy,” you can go to a menu and send other players on a Treasure Hunt.  This is a really fun and neat feature, because as you are playing you will find different objects hidden in the game.  You can take these items and then send a challenge to other players to try and find three different objects that you have chosen.  If they find the items, they will get points, and they can use the points to unlock exclusive in-game items.  You can also accept challenges that other players have created.

Once you start a new game and save it, the “Bonus” menu will be available.  In the bonus menu, you can try and solve daily puzzles, and you can also go to the puzzle index where you can replay all of the puzzles you have unlocked. 

If you do certain things in “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy,” challenges will unlock, and you will be able to play them in the “Layton’s Challenges” menu.

I really think the daily puzzles are awesome.  Every day, a new puzzle is available to download.  There are 20 puzzles that are available right away, but there will be a total of 365 puzzles.  This is awesome, and it makes me want to play every day to see what the new puzzle is going to be.  I think this is a great idea.

There is also a “Top Secret” menu.  When you beat “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” you will get a password based on your picarat score.  You must then select “The Hidden Door,” and then you will get a password for “The Hidden Door” in “Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.”  I’m not sure what this is, but I cannot wait to find out.

I really enjoyed Nintendo’s “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” a lot.  It is such a fun and challenging game. It really makes you think, and I really think that all of the puzzles are very clever.  The graphics are awesome and the 3D looks amazing.  I know that if you have played previous “Professor Layton” games in the past you will really enjoy this. 

I would also highly recommend “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” if you are a fan of brain teasers and games that will challenge your mind.

Aaron Chalich is a entertainment columnist.