This is my first review on Screwattack. Any constructive criticism should be left in the comments. Please remember that this is strictly my opinion, and if you think otherwise, deal with it.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
This is it. The game a year a half in the making. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask was released as a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS, and quickly rose to the top selling 3DS game in Japan, even beating out Ocarina of Time 3D. However, it was only released here in the US a year and a half later, October 28th, on my 18th birthday. But we are here to talk about the game. Is it worth the wait? Short answer- FUCK YEAH.
1) The story:
For those not "in the know," the Professor Layton franchise is known for having rich storylines, usually ending in a "twist." The stories are always told in a satisfying manner, reaching a good conclusion. The first three games were constituents of a trilogy of the present time, while the Last Specter and Miracle Mask (as well as Layton's final adventure releasing in Japan in 2013) take place in the past, before the events of the first trilogy. Basically, it is Star Wars done right. *raise flame wall* Professor Layton and the Unwound future still is one of a few games that made me cry at the end. As well as the main games, Level-5 also release a movie, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, which takes place between The Last Specter and Miracle Mask. It appears to be important in the overall storyline.
The basic story in Miracle Mask is that Professor Layton, along with his assistant Emmy Altava and Apprentice (number 1) Luke Triton, are summoned by a letter from an old acquaintance to come investigate the chaos that ensues in the city of Monte d'Or- the City of Miracles. There, havoc is wreaked by a mysterious figure known only as the Masked Gentleman.
1, 2, 3, 4, Did you miss me, Monte d'Or?
Unlike past games in the series, you don't only get to play as Professor Hershel Layton, expert puzzle solver and professional archaeologist. You also get to play as Hershel Layton, the student who is not quite as interested in puzzles and archaeology, and how he grew to like them so much. Just as in Unwound Future, we find out the origin to his gentlemanliness and his iconic hat, here we find out how he developed an affinity towards puzzles.
The story comes to a dramatic conclusion, perfectly setting up the story for the next game with an after credits scene.
Story gets a 10/10
2) The Gameplay:
Chances are, if you heard of Professor Layton, you know it's all about the puzzles (besides for the superb story). There are around 150 puzzles for the player to solve in Miracle Mask. If you miss a puzzle, and can't go back to get it, don't fret, because there is always a chance to make it up a Nanna Grams (obviously *not* Granny Riddleton) who collects missed puzzles. There are a variety of different puzzles, from sliding puzzles, to logic puzzles, to number puzzles- you name it! If you solve a puzzle on your first, second, or third go, you get a certain amount of picarats, which stack up to unlock extras like a sound test and art. You will not get bored easily, especially after releasing held back breath when solving an especially difficult skullcracker. Although, when you are rushing to get to the next point in the story, solving a puzzle can be a little frustrating. Not a major issue though.
There are 7 chapter in the game, excluding the Prologue and Epilogue. The game should take around 12-15 hours to complete, on top of the extra puzzles for you to complete and the puzzle-a-day that Nintendo is offering every day for 365 days.
All that being said, there are a few minor gripes here. Since the game is on a 3DS, Level-5 took full advantage of the system. They introduced a horseback riding mission in the beginning of the game, and a chapter devoted to a top down perspective dungeon. The horse minigame was ok, but the dungeon became somewhat tedious. You walk around solving block pushing puzzles and mummy puzzles. It is a different take on the seires, but it didn't work as well as it should have. It felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again.
With the move to the 3DS, the way you control the character is different. Instead of tapping on objects on the touch screen, the bottom screen is used to move a magnifying glass pointer on the top screen, which shifts when moving towards the sides of the screen to give a slightly different view. This works very well, even though it isn't exactly what we are used to. Getting hint coins to make puzzles easier and finding collectibles is still just as satisfying as ever.
Apart from the main game, there are 3 minigames that you can choose to take part of, although they are automatically added to your inventory. First up is a robot minigame, where you guide a robot to the red goal. He can only move three steps at a time, unless he hits a wall. I do not really care for this minigame, it didn't really appeal to me. The second is a fun minigame where you have to stack shelves so that customers chain their purchases- for example they buy a red tomato, then a red apple, then a green apple, and finaly a green pepper. The last is my favorite- you teach a bunny "actions" and then you have to choose which ones it will perform in a play. The minigame is fun, but the best part is how cute the bunny is. Each of these minigames, when completed unlocks super hard puzzles in the bonuses section on the main menu.
Overall, gameplay gets an 9/10
3DS. There are arguments whether or not the 3D enhances gaming or takes away from it. In the case of the Miracle Mask, the 3D is absolutely a waste... if it isn't turned on. It is totally playable with the 3D off, and you can get a complete experience out of it. But with it on, the scenery becomes magic. Looking around for clues is so much fun thanks to the 3D feature. It makes me WANT to search the environment. The puzzles are meh with the 3D on, so I shut it off for them.
Along with the addition of 3D and a new way to explore the world, Miracle Mask diverted from 2D sprites and went full 3D character models with animations when they talk. This really adds a lot to the game, and I would really like to see this in games to come.
Presentation gets a solid 9.5/10, because the 3D can get a little strenuous at times.
If you seen the previous two pieces of media (whether movie or game), you could expect a certain familiar character to appear. And when he/she does, you almost aren't expecting it. When Layton said his/her name and his/her theme came on, I squealed like a little girl. (I'm just trying not to give away the gender)
If you do not want to be spoiled to who this character is, don't follow the link. Otherwise, follow this link for a hilarious picture of him :)
This game is definitely right there at the top of the list besides Unwound Future. This game is a must own for any Layton fan, especially to get pumped for the last game in the series, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies.
This game receives a 9.3/10
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