Nintendo Co.’s Professor Layton and the Last Specter for the Nintendo DS is an excellent puzzler prequel that expands the franchise universe and includes an addictive side RPG for fans.

In Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Professor Layton receives a letter from an old friend that claims a monster is attacking the city of Misthallery. Layton travels to the town with new assistant Emmy to solve a new mystery and subsequently meets future apprentice Luke.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

The interface is similar to prior entries in which users utilize the stylus to point and investigate people and places. Pointing at select objects may trigger a puzzle or offer more insight into a certain mystery.

Puzzles remain clever from the beginning. From determining which three out of four photos were taken on the same day to arranging blocks of cargo to fit a truck bed, users will spend plenty of time trying to deduce each problem.

Each puzzle is valued at a number of Picarats. More difficult puzzles hold a higher value and each incorrect value lowers the value of the puzzle. The cumulation of Picarats can help unlock extra content.

Users can also obtain hint coins found by pointing at various on-screen objects. A total of three hints are available per puzzle.

In addition to puzzles integrated in the story, Episodes can be unlocked to view separate stories and new puzzles.

Professor Layton and the Last Spector includes charming artwork and well-animated sequences to further the mystery.

Music and sound effects hold an old-world ambience with classical and upbeat compositions.

Included in Professor Layton and the Last Specter is Professor Layton’s London Life, a side 8-bit RPG that allows users to create a custom character and help neighbors with requests. Each fulfilled request allows users to earn Wealth and Happiness points. Earn enough money and users can purchase new clothing or furniture for their apartment.

London Life is an addictive, full-fledged game in itself, with hours of character interaction, descriptions for nearly every object, and the ability to visit a friend’s town via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter is a well-produced trunk of brain-teasing puzzles. Combined with London Life, the first chapter in the Professor Layton story is a must-visit for puzzle freaks.

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