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Should Level-5 Retire and Replace Professor Layton?

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Professor Layton

"Oh no, dear boy. This is 'so long.'"

Image © Level-5
There was some bittersweet news from the Nintendo Direct conference that was streamed from Japan near the end of August. A new Professor Layton game is coming to the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, but it may very well be the last game in the series to star the Professor himself. According to Andriasang’s translation of the conference, Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino admitted that Mr. Layton is looking into retirement. It’s sad news to be sure, but it’s also never a bad idea for a gentleman to tip his hat and leave on a high note.

The name of the second Professor Layton Nintendo 3DS game translates roughly to “Professor Layton and the Legacy of Super Civilization.” If nothing else, that’s one heck of an act name to bow out on. Super Civilization marks the sixth entry in the series’ main storyline, which also includes spin-offs like the upcoming Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney.

It’s important to note that Super Civilization is not the final game in the Professor Layton series. In fact, a spin-off game called Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is already in the works for iOS, but it stars Layton’s son, Alphendi, instead of the Professor himself.

Compared to old-timers like Link, Sonic, or Mario, Professor Layton is a young video game character, but he’s managed to garner a solid following in the short time he’s been around. The Professor Layton puzzle-heavy titles are certainly solid on their own, but some fans would argue that the Professor’s presence (often aided by Herge-quality anime cutscenes) really sells them.

So on one hand, setting Herschel Layton loose while he’s still beloved in so many gamers’ hearts will help perverse him as a legendary character. On the other hand, the Prof’s absence might sour fans on subsequent installments of the series. When the young attorney Apollo Justice was assigned to take over for Phoenix Wright as the main character in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney for the Nintendo DS, few of the series’ supporters broke out the champagne. They all loved Phoenix, and they weren’t ready to see him go.

In the same vein, it might prove difficult for everyone to say goodbye to Professor Layton in favor if his son, or another character. Giving the Professor a small rest isn’t a terrible idea for Level-5, but maybe it’d be a better idea to overhaul the series’ gameplay and keep Mr. Layton in his starring role as gaming’s most appreciated gentleman.
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