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Professor Layton and Pandora's Box keeps the format the same and quality high. I enjoyed the feel and fun of the first game and was pleasantly surprised to find a more streamlined experience. A coffee a flapjack and the Professor make an excellent combination.
Having the new Professor Layton game to review feels like quite a coup as I'm aware that the last one was really popular and sold out. Being a bit behind the times I only discovered the previous game, Professor Leyton and the Curious Village, a few months ago, so with that fresh in my mind I was excited to see what the new game would be like. All in all it looks like they have improved the game by giving it a more integrated feel and building on what everyone enjoyed about it, the great animation and story line.
It continues in the same vein with a really high quality animated background story staring Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke. This time the story is set in London around the mysterious death of Professor Layton's mentor.
I was pleasantly surprised by the puzzles being more related to the story and the mystery you are trying to solve.
This game differs in that there isn't a map to explore like before but you get a list of different mysteries to solve as you go along, and you can pick and chose which one to do next. This is nice as there isn't so much laborious navigating around. You still have to tap on objects and people to find out information, find hint coins and of course to do the all important puzzles.
I was pleasantly surprised by the puzzles being more related to the story and the mystery you are trying to solve. I found it rather odd that the puzzles in the last game where rather plonked into the story line without any relation to the overall theme. Even the way the characters introduced the games seemed strange, i.e. old lady in village talks to professor Layton - ‘hello, oh yes I can tell you were the house is, but I've heard you like puzzles, so can you solve this?'
There is still an element of this in the new game, but on the whole the puzzles are much better integrated into the story theme and even look more in keeping as well. One thing I particularly liked was packing Luke's suitcase for him and trying to get all the objects to fit without overlapping.
Sometimes the link with the game is rather tenuous - like Luke and the professor looking at tress from the train and lo and behold, a tree puzzle to do! I'm not sure if it's just me but the puzzles seem a little easier than last time, but that's probably because I am back at the beginning of the game again and I've forgotten how hard they get towards the end. They have kept the puzzle instructions to the top DS screen this time, which is good as you can refer back to them easily when you want to check what you are doing, but I found the type very small and hard to read, would have been better flashed up in smaller sections one at a time to introduce you to the puzzle more gradually.
One thing I particularly liked was packing Luke's suitcase for him and trying to get all the objects to fit without overlapping.
At times, it does feel like an awful lot of dialogue to get through in this game. I'm not sure if there is more this time, but I feel as though I am forever tapping through long winded dialogue boxes. Trouble is if you do that too much or too quickly and you miss what is happening and don't know what you are supposed to be doing next. This means the game does require all your attention all of the time, where as other puzzle games without the story background might be easier to play while you are watching TV - as you would if you were flicking through a magazine. Something that would be hard to do with this game.
All of these are pretty much just niggles in what is still a really good game and I'm sure that it will be a best seller again come Christmas.
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