I never played the Professor Layton games when they came out originally. The games were on my radar, but at the time I was more focused on Pokémon than some weird puzzle game. So when we got an email announcing that the first game was launching on mobile, I jumped on it. I play almost exclusively puzzle games on mobile, and I’ve wanted to play the Layton games for a few years now but just never gotten around to it.
Professor Layton and the Curious Village: HD for Mobile is a digital remaster of the original game, with all the visuals updated and upscaled for modern hardware. There are also additional animated cutscenes, though the story remains entirely the same as far as I can tell. These updates look great on my phone, though I suspect this is more to do with the art style than a huge amount of work on the part of developers Level-5.
The puzzles are a mixed bag - when they are actually puzzles they’re great, but too many of them are effectively trick questions, where the solution is overly simple but requires huge leaps of logic to make any sense. Of the 120 puzzles in the main game, about a third of them are like this and it makes the well-crafted puzzles that require actual thought to solve have less impact. Solving puzzles should give a feeling of satisfaction, but when half the time I can’t be sure if the game is trolling me or not, I struggle to enjoy them.
The cutscenes, while excellently animated, have poor sound balancing, with Professor Layton’s lines being almost inaudible over the sound of the car, whereas Luke’s lines are too loud. The music is excellent, and I really enjoyed listening to the soundtrack throughout my playtime. It was the perfect mix of calming and tense; calm enough so that the puzzles didn’t infuriate me but tense enough to give the story a sense of weight and importance.
The only other issue I have with the game is how it presents the puzzles. Before you can do them, you have to find them - and some of them are really hidden. Most are obvious, talk to the villager and get a puzzle, others are tied to random bits of the scenery. You therefore have to spend time tapping on every pixel of every scene to make sure you find all of the puzzles. This is somewhat helped out by a little robot dog you can build, but the parts you need for it are almost all in these hidden puzzles, and I didn’t end up getting the full dog until after I had finished the main story.
Aside from that, Professor Layton and the Curious Village HD on Mobile is an excellent port. Considering that my phone has more processing power than my computer did back in 2007, that is maybe not surprising but the game has transferred over from the DS to mobile really well. I can now only hope that the other DS Layton games are coming as well, since Curious Village is the first part of a trilogy…
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (Reviewed on Android)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
An excellent update and remaster, bringing the first Layton game onto the mobile platform, with a few sound niggles and some design flaws that can be overlooked.