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.
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
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.
"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.
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.