Professor Layton and the Curious Village(JP) is a video game for the Nintendo DS. It is the first of seven games in the Professor Layton video game series, all which are developed by Level 5 (and published by Nintendo in other territories). The game stars professor Layton and his self-proclaimed apprentice Luke on their adventure to uncover the golden apple in St. Mystere, though while doing so they'll, or rather you'll be required to solve a multitude of challenging puzzles constructed by the "puzzle master" Akira Tago—a professor known for his best-selling puzzle books (Head Gymnastics) in Japan.
The cut-scenes in the game were created by the Japanese-anime studio Production I.G.
The game starts with a cinematic showing the professor and Luke heading towards St. Mystere, a village whose villagers are keen on solving and composing puzzles. They're infatuation with puzzles is a bit dramatic, however, though it's the prominent aspect of the game, so it's understandable. Most of the puzzles found in the game revolve around already created ideas, some of which were first found hundreds and hundreds of years ago, though they're unique in their own way.
For solving a puzzle, you'll come in possession of picarats, which acts as the game's currency. If you happen to answer falsely on a puzzle, then the number of picarats that you'll obtain will reduce, though usually not terribly. If you're stumped on a particular puzzle, then you'll also be granted the ability to use your "hint coins" to, as the name suggests, get hints on the puzzle. However, as you could assume, you don't have an unlimited amount of hint coins, and the only way to get more is to search around the village. Some hints are more revealing than others.
Once you solve the puzzle, all of which are controlled via the stylus, you'll get the promised picarats and possibly an item or a hint on what to do later on. Also, once you've completed it, you'll be able to play the puzzle (or any other you've beaten) in the menu.
Exploring the village
While puzzles are unarguably the most appealing part of the game, there's also an over world in which you can (and frankly must) explore in order to progress through the story and obtain more puzzles to master. The bottom screen will showcase the section you're in, while the top screen will feature a portion of the map and the general area. On the bottom screen, you're allowed to touch and interact with whatever happens to be down there, including but not exactly limited to the villagers, doors, and other objects.
Touching the people with the stylus will result in a conversation and will usually (but not always) start up a puzzle. Touching doors will cause you to go into the building if it's accessible, though sometimes they're locked. Touching anything else that looks touchable may result in you getting hint coins or a secret puzzle, though more often the two main characters will just give their insight on it.
On the bottom right corner of each area is a shoe that can be touched. If you do so, then arrows or a finger will appear on screen. Touching these objects will either send you into the next area or into (or out of) a building respectively.
The Professor's Trunk
On the top right corner of the bottom screen is a trunk that can be pressed with the stylus. When you do so, you'll enter the professor's trunk which feature's its own share of doodads. The journal's basic purpose is to record the events that have occurred in the game and keep you up to date on the story. The mysteries explain the odd stories that you hear from the multiple villagers. The puzzle index allows you to access the puzzles you've already completed, though those that you've tried but haven't beaten will just be listed.
The Inn allows you to decorate Luke and Professor's attic room. In all there are thirty different items that you can use to furnish with, though certain items only look appropriate to certain characters, so you'll have to place them into that character's room accordingly. You'll collect multiple puzzle pieces and gizmos that you can use to create a painting and a machine respectively. Finally, you're also able to save your game here as well.
The Curious Village received "critical acclaim" according to Metacritic. The combination of the adventure game and "brain training" genres received mixed appreciation. Some reviewers praised the game for the successful combination with 1UP.com commenting on how the game's approach is much better than games where the puzzles were integrated into the environment. Other reviewers felt that these two genres do not merge well within the game; Game Informer noted that while the player is given numerous small puzzles to solve, the mysteries of the main plot are basically solved for the player. The game was noted to have little replay value; once all the puzzles were solved, there was no point in playing through them again. The presentation of the game, including both the general European animation style and cutscene animations, was appreciated by reviewers. Hyper's Darren Wells commended the game for its "clever concept, with plenty to solve and unlock as well as its fantastic presentation". However, he criticized "some puzzles feeling tacked on and the music can get annoying". Edge gave it a score of seven out of ten, saying, "There are lots of puzzles, a fun environment to tootle around in, and little to dislike. Utterly charming." Nintendo Power listed the ending as one of the best on a Nintendo console, citing the many discoveries that players find in the end credits. In Japan, Famitsu gave the game a score of three eights and one nine, for a total of 33 out of 40.
A sequel, titled Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box was released in Japan in 2007 and in America and Europe in 2009. In The Curious Village, there are secrets that can only be unlocked by obtaining a code in Pandora's Box.
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