1. Computing

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

Image © Nintendo
Professor Layton is back on the Nintendo DS with Professor Layton and the Last Specter for the Nintendo DS. As you might expect, the Prof is still a gentleman, he still wears his iconic top hat, and he still wants to turn your brain into a pretzel with the help of dozens and dozens of puzzles and brain-teasers.

With four localized installments, the Professor Layton series has had plenty of time to establish itself on the Nintendo DS. With its intriguing story, great voice acting, and piles of bonus content, Last Specter ranks as a must-play for Professor Layton fans (like all Professor Layton games that have been published to date, admittedly).

There are a couple of potholes in this latest investigation, though. The story in Last Specter isn't as heartfelt and emotional as the tale that was spun in The Unwound Future, and the general difficulty of the puzzles is noticeably less balanced this time around.

Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: E10+
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DSi XL, Nintendo DS Lite,
Original Style Nintendo DS

THE BASICS: Monster in the Mist

Professor Layton and the Last Specter is, chronologically, the first game in the Professor Layton series (so far). The Professor has his first adventure with his budding apprentice, Luke Triton, after events early in in Last Specter bring the two together to solve a winding mystery that involves both of them.

Luke summons Professor Layton, a friend of his father's, to the town of Misthallery when trouble arises. A giant specter out of legend is haunting the town and destroying buildings. There are also rumors of a witch's curse, and trouble from a shadowy figure called the "Black Raven." Worse, Luke's father has grown distant, and his mother has disappeared completely.

Layton agrees to help Luke solve the mystery of the specter alongside his new assistant, a roundhouse-kicking, rooftop-running gal named Emmy. The trio delve deep into Misthallery's history and architecture, and they talk to tourists and residents in order to garner scraps of information about the specter's attacks. And, of course, they solve puzzles. Lots and lots of puzzles.

THE GOOD

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles -- Last Specter plays almost identically to previous Layton games, so this ought to be old hat (so to speak) for fans of the series. Literature for Last Specter boasts that the game has more puzzles than any other Layton title, and that appears to be the case. The citizens of Misthallery will quiz Layton, Luke, and Emmy at every turn, and there are hidden puzzles galore. Don't forget about the weekly puzzles, which are accessible via Nintendo Wi-Fi.

"London Life" RPG included -- Last Specter has a charming little bonus: A "100-hour role-playing game" (RPG) called London Life that's accessible as soon as you start the game. With London Life, you make an avatar that moves into a small town called "Little London." Once there, you make friends with the townspeople (all of them are familiar faces, if you've been following the Layton series, perform errands for them, decorate your apartment, and ultimately try to find happiness. London Life isn't actually an RPG: It has far more in common with an Animal Crossing game. Nevertheless, it's adorable, it's fun, and its sprite-based graphics are wonderful.

Great voice acting -- The story for Last Specter goes a bit over the top once in a while, but the voice acting is always a pleasure to listen to (especially the dapper Professor, as usual).

There are hints, if you need 'em -- Almost every screen in Last Specter has "Hint Coins" scattered throughout, and you need only tap around to find them. If you're stuck on a puzzle, you can buy a hint with a Coin and get back on track.

THE BAD

Less variety in puzzles -- Whereas other Layton games boast a nice mixture of brain teasers, including math, problem solving, visual puzzles, word puzzles, and more, Last Specter's roster seems to lean more heavily towards math- and- number-based puzzles. If you're not good at math, stock up those hint coins.

Some of the puzzles aren't worded clearly -- A classic Layton series problem, unfortunately. Once in a while, you'll encounter a puzzle that leaves you with no clue about what you're being asked to do. Happily, this doesn't happen too often.

If you don't like Layton games... -- Last Specter is exactly what it is: A Professor Layton game. You already know its premise, you know how it plays, and you know how it moves. If you're not interested in Layton, you won't be interested in in Last Specter, either.

The Story in Unwound Future was a bit more intriguing -- The story behind Last Specter is a good one, but Unwound Future felt more urgent, and definitely had more emotional payoff.

CONCLUSION: The Thrill of a Good Solution

Professor Layton and the Last Specter is essentially a Professor Layton game--in other words, it's a fun story-based puzzle game with top-notch graphics and sound. London Life is also a very welcome bonus. If you've been hanging around Layton for this long, go ahead and pick up Last Specter. The Professor will be happy to have your company.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
  1. About.com
  2. Computing
  3. Nintendo DS
  4. Game Reviews
  5. Professor Layton and the Last Specter - Nintendo DS Game Review

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.