There are many puzzle games out there, but none as good as the Professor Layton series. Combining both wonderful story telling and puzzle solving, Level-5 has successfully captured the hearts of many around the globe. Spanning 6 games, 2 spin-offs (1 of them is to be released real soon this year!) and a movie, Professor Layton now finally comes to an end with his final adventure; The Azran Legacy. The game continues from the previous title, Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask, but even without completing the other, Azran Legacy is still enjoyable on its own.
Despite churning out new Professor Layton games a year after another consecutively, Level-5 never fails to deliver. Each title has their own adventure for the players to follow and The Azran Legacy is no different. Not to forget, each game has their own memorable theme and cutscenes at most of the important moments in the story. Perhaps due to space constraints and limitation of the console, the story always centers at a singular location in the story. However, Level-5 cooks up a different recipe for the final game. This time, Professor Layton and his merry band will be flying all around the world to solve the many puzzles the Azran throws at them.
Not many games utilise the touch screen as many times as the Layton series. Forget the circle pad or the d-pad, you will never need to use them. There are three gameplay modes in this game; exploration, puzzle solving and mini games. Exploration needs a little sliding and poking effort. It may seem tedious at first but it was a very satisfactory feeling if you discovered something new on the map.
Each area feels very much alive with 3D view on. Snowflakes coming down, NPCs in the background going about their business and even trains zooming past. Over 100+ puzzles to be solved and another 365 daily puzzles to be downloaded through SpotPass, players may start to wonder whether the team for creating new puzzles in Level 5 ever had enough rest. Each of the puzzles were given distinctive art to go along with the puzzle content and it is really a nice touch. Imagine the boxes being moved on the top screen as you try to get the correct alignment on the bottom screen.
Three different mini games are also included if you ever get a little drained from the main story. In fact, the developers have always included a set of different mini games in each title. Completing each game gives a nice bonus for the players. But wait! These minigames also need some brain work!
There is also StreetPass feature, in case you are wondering. StreetPass-ing another Azran player allows you to send over and receive a Challenge of seeking out objects across many maps in the game. Seek all the objects, and receive coins to redeem nifty collectibles. You can also exchange Play Coins for Challenges if you rarely meet 3DS owners (In this case, applies to me as well).
VOICEOVER & SOUNDTRACK
The cutscenes are obviously fully voiced and certain parts of the dialogue as well. Christopher Robin Miller, the voice actor for Professor Layton never fails to return as the top hat gentleman in each title and as usual, he did a bang up job. I believe not many can resist the British accent his voice exudes. In fact, the same goes to the rest of the cast. Although some of the characters’s voices do feel a little strained at times and even at one point a little too husky.
The soundtrack is as good as usual, with each location a different theme. Although certain parts of the game could use a bit more variety in music selection, it is fitting nevertheless. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is not as memorable as I expected. It is no Kingdom Hearts nor Final Fantasy but the music is on the border separating the average and acceptable.
Colourful and lively. These two words are all I need to describe the cartoonish characters in this game. The dialogues between the characters are fully in 3D animation unlike the 2D feel that most games opted. It helps that even the NPCs feel very distinctive from another through their expressions and body motion. The background art is also very detailed. Feel free to poke any bottles or food you see on your touch screen. It might give some special effect such as bottles toppling over or water being spilt.
Cutscenes, on the other hand, are lovingly animated. No frames are skipped at every action scene you see. The scenes looked very sharp on my 3DS XL. Even with 3D view boosted to the maximum, it does not looked pixelated at all. Level-5 did the right thing by putting the subtitles on the touch screen rather than on the top screen. Subtitles are usually really distracting if the size of it is big to cover almost 1/4 of the screen!
Even before I started the game, I had mixed feeling because I knew this beforehand that this is the very last game of Professor Layton. It had to be good and conclusive to the series. My expectation is already set in stone long before I held the game in my hands. My expectations was not far off the mark. The excellent dubbing has never changed. The graphics has vastly improved. Soundtrack has fallen a bit off mark but still good as always. The best feature in this game is without a doubt, the many maps to be explored. In fact, the players are encouraged to explore more. You will find yourselves visiting the same area many times just to complete the Challenges obtained through StreetPass. Troublesome and tedious? Nope. Fun and rewarding? Double yes! If you are looking for a puzzling mystery to solve and an adventure to sink your teeth into, then look no further because Prof. Layton and The Azran Legacy is made for you.
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