2 Minute Review – Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box

Diabolical Box Art

The Professor and Luke are up to their wacky hijinks again!

Do: Unravel a mystery while solving close to 150 different logic puzzles.

Type: Puzzle/Adventure

Platform: Nintendo DS

Price: $29.99

PL2 Story Screen

Meat: As the sequel to last year’s puzzle/adventure game for the DS, Professor Layton & The Curious Village, Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box comes with some high expectations. You are tasked with guiding the titular Professor and his plucky assistant Luke through a rather substantial tale of murder, theft and intrigue as they attempt to find the Elysian Box, an artifact that kills any who dare open it. This is done by solving upwards of 130 different logic puzzles scattered throughout the tale. Some puzzles are random while some are integral to moving the story forward. Add to that a much larger variety of minigames and you are looking at a game that takes about 12 hours to playthrough with plenty of extra goodies to keep you coming back for more.

PL2 Puzzle Screen

Perks: The art design and music are a slice of whimsy and exotic flair in a world of games filled with too much gritty darkness. While the subject matter in Professor Layton & The Diabolical Box can be quite grim, there is always a sense of innocence about the proceedings. The puzzles in Diabolical Box are integrated into their surroundings much better than they were in the first game, with at least a hint of context given for each offering. Animated cutscenes are sprinkled liberally through the game and are a delight to watch. There has also been an improvement in the localization of the text clues for the word puzzles over the first game, which is a huge plus.

Screams: For a stronger resolution to the core plot. The game spends a lot of time weaving together several plot threads but then seems to rush the ending. The finale is still satisfying but the twists do seem to come out of nowhere and are resolved far too quickly for my taste.

Verdict: Buy. This is the middle game in a trilogy but the story is very self-contained with most of the allusions to the events of the first Layton game summed up nicely.

In [Nat’s] Hands: Bangai-O Spirits

We’ve given this Bangai-O Spirits a little air time in the past. I’ve picked it up at Target for $15. (They have a cheap DS section now, $10-$20.) From Wikipedia: “Bangai-O Spirits is a side-scrolling shooting game with free-scrolling levels that extend horizontally and vertically. The player controls a robot with the ability to fly, but is still affected by gravity. He has seven weapons to choose from, and can perform melee attacks using a baseball bat or sword.”

Out Of Time

Wednesday was a glorious day. Why?

Chrono Trigger DS just landed in my hands today and I’ve already sunk far too much time into it. For a 13 year old game, it still holds up amazingly well and the new tweaks are kind of nice.

There’s also the added bonus that I finally have a legitimate portable copy of what is probably my all-time favourite videogame, period. I have a top 10 list of favourite games and it’s often in flux, though many games tend to stay in it for a long time. Chrono Trigger is on a whole other level of adoration though. It’s the Mona Lisa of JRPGs as far as I’m concerned.

What am I doing typing this? I’m off to go romp through time with my band of merry adventurers!

[2 Minute Review] Time Hollow

What do you get if you lock Phoenix Wright, Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory in a room with a Barry White CD playing?

This kid will have a lot of questions when he’s older…

DO: A lot of reading, cause time paradoxes and get really confused… in a good way.

TYPE: Point & Click adventure game.

PLATFORM: DS

PRICE: $29.99

MEAT: If you’ve played an Ace Attorney game or Hotel Dusk: Room 215, you’ll be right at home with Time Hollow. The game plays like a combination of an interactive novel and an old Lucasarts/Sierra point & click adventure, with inventory management and conversation trees galore. Thankfully, it’s all done in a clean, simple way with minimal backtracking and plenty of hooks to move the story along.

Time Hollow deals with your character, Ethan Kairos, who wakes the day of his 17th birthday to find that everything in his life doesn’t seem right. His parents, who were just having dinner with him the night before, have now been missing for 12 years. Friends go missing for days despite Ethan having just talked to them moments earlier. Am I hurting your brain? Don’t worry. It all makes a lot more sense in the game proper and a large part of the game’s plot involves trying to unravel the cause of these paradoxes.

That’s where the Hollow Pen comes into play. Ethan uses this device to ‘dig’ into the past and find clues to the unraveling chronosphere around him.

PERKS: The production values on Time Hollow are VERY impressive for a DS game and that, plus the excellent translation from the original Japanese, make it a must-own game for fans of the waning point & click adventure genre. I was quite impressed with the number of animated (and fully voiced) cutscenes in the game as well.

VERDICT: Buy. If you’ve enjoyed the Ace Attorney games and want something with a little more actual gameplay and a more serious storyline (and time travel!) or are a fan of point & click adventure games in general, run, don’t walk, to the store to get this game. You won’t be sorry…