Good day LusiChaps! Once in a while a video game company gets something right, and in an industry where many things are going wrong, to have something that is good, pure, and right should be celebrated to no end! Developed by Level-5 and published by Nintendo, in North America, the Professor Layton series on the Nintendo DS has broken new ground when it comes to the puzzle/point-and-click adventure genres. This week’s focus is on the the third game in the series, Unwound Future. The game was released in North America on 12 September, 2010, for the Nintendo DS and is the last game, chronologically, to be released since Professor Layton and the Last Specter is set before the events of Professor Layton and the Curious Village.
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future begins with Professor Layton, his young apprentice Luke, and many other notable members of the London community – including the current Prime Minister – previewing the world’s first time machine. But, good readers, do not be confused with another recently-released time-traveling game, because in this instance, the time machine fails to work and then explodes. In the aftermath of the explosion the attendees realize that the Prime Minister and the scientists who built the time machine are missing. An investigation is immediately launched and at the same time the Professor and Luke receive a mysterious message from what seems to be a future Luke. He tells them that he needs Layton’s help and that Layton must travel into the future. In the message is also an address where an actual working time machine resides. So Layton and Luke make the jump and decide to travel forward in time! What mysteries will Layton and Luke face when they travel into the future? Will they figure out what happened to the Prime Minister and the missing scientists? Play the game and find out!
The gameplay in this Layton game remains the same as in the other games in the series, with adjustments only being done to different styles of puzzles, but not to the gameplay (which is still that of a point-and-click adventure game). At the time of the game’s release, Unwound Future hit an all-time high for sheer number of puzzles in that series, with the final count reaching about one hundred sixty-five puzzles, with more and more being available to download in the weeks following the game’s release. To help players solve the puzzles Level-5 spread throughout the game hint coins for players to collect, which as one could gather are there to give players hints to the puzzle they are trying to work through. One hint costs one coin, but players can also buy super hints which cost two hint coins. The game continues the long-standing scoring and rating system of picarats: the more picarats a puzzle has, the more difficult it is; and the total score of attainable picarats goes down if the player fails to correctly answer the puzzle. At the end of the game, the player can unlock secret puzzles based on the number of picarats that they have attained. As part of the ingame rewards for solving puzzles, the player may play one of three mini-games that support additional puzzles in Layton’s Trunk that can be attempted at any time. One mini-game is based on sticker books, placing the correct stickers at locations in the book to make the story make sense. Another requires training a parrot to carry items to a character using a series of ropes to act as perches or rebounding walls. The third mini-game is a toy car that the player must drive across specific tiles on a map using a series of directional indicators. Layton’s Bag also contains details on the story, characters, and a list of completed puzzles the player can review and try again.
Overall Unwound Future keeps the Layton series feeling fresh and fun even when other franchise begin to feel stale by the time of their third game. The game’s puzzles are constantly fresh and mind-bendingly fun, and will keep players up at night if they cannot solve a puzzle that will continue the story. The story keeps pace with the other two, and in the end is able to tie all the mysteries together quite nicely, giving players old and new a satisfied feeling upon completion. Any collector of Nintendo DS games would be strongly advised to purchase this game–and perhaps the other titles in this fantastic puzzle adventure series.