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LTTP: Professor Layton & The Unwound Future

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LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

The third installment of Level 5’s Professor Layton series may be the series’ peak.

I realize I haven’t played the fourth chapter or the recent Japanese Nintendo 3DS installment yet, but I have an inkling that The Unwound Future will be my favorite regardless. I could be completely wrong, however, the fact that I’m a sucker for time traveling mysteries gives this installment extra bonus points in my book.

I can tell Level 5 have a firm grasp on the integrating puzzles into the main story thread now. The villains, the skirmishes and the daring escapes were all influenced and created with puzzles in mind. In this rendition of London, conflict of all sorts is resolved with puzzles. Even the mafia or “Family” battled with brains and not brawn by the request of their fearsome boss.

As a result of this closer integration, puzzle variety took a backseat. Even though I encountered numerous slide, block and tracing puzzles this time around, I wasn’t bothered by them at all. What was important to me was that these puzzles had more relevance to the situation at hand. Who knew you could save the Prime Minister of England with a bit of wire tracing and tile swapping?

Interactive puzzles were always my favorite in these games because I was able to work them out on the DS screen itself. I figured if I had visualize a puzzle in my head, I’d simply pick up a book of puzzles, a pen and a notepad. Now I wouldn’t get to ponder over those puzzles with the truly awesome soundtrack (best in the series, in my opinion) playing in the background, but I would at least have a pen or paper in my hand.

In Unwound Future, they’ve finally included a memo pad and some pencil crayons (remember those from school?). Even though I wasn’t moving blocks around, I was still able to interact with the Nintendo DS via the memo pad. I would overlay the pad over the puzzle on hand and work out math problems or trace wires with ease. My only desire for future installments is more pages. I like to try out multiple ideas without erasing everything.

I also don’t know how future games can top Unwound Future. This game had everything.

  • Giant battle tank/mech
  • Time travelling
  • Underground cities
  • A puppetmaster
  • The aforementioned mobsters
  • Long lost lovers
  • Evil scientists
  • Kidnapped political figure
  • A casino shootout
  • Evil counterpart
  • Teaming up with nemesis

And that’s not all of it. There were origin and back stories to a handful of significant characters. I was even treated to a bit of self-aware humor where Flora protested the amount of time Luke and Layton spent together. This game surprised me with both variety, depth and execution of its story. I treated the last few games as nothing more than background noise and elaborate excuses to do some puzzling. It’s just too bad those cutscenes weren’t rendered at a higher precision. The Nintendo DS’s cruddy screen resolution did not do them justice whatsoever.

I adored just about everything that was crammed into Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. It hit all the right notes with me and left me wanting more; something the last title didn’t do. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I’m not sure what is. Folks who haven’t joined the good professor on his previous two adventures will find no better place to jump in, but for fans like myself? It’ll rejuvenate your love for the franchise all over again.

P.S – After finishing the game, I was on such a Layton high, I went ahead and ordered a figure of the top hat wearing archeologist. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Verdict:
Must Play

Ratings Guide

For more information on Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, visit the official website.

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