|Release: October 28, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Cartoon Violence|
Where Miracle Mask takes a step backwards in quality from Last Specter is a niggling problem with the puzzle controls. Many puzzles have objects that need to be both moved and rotated with the stylus, and it can be frustrating to perform the desired action. Some pieces stubbornly refuse to be moved, rotating endlessly and inspiring angry stylus jabs as the player attempts to convince them to move instead. In a few other puzzles, objects need to be slid across the screen, then tapped to make a move. This interface is oversensitive, making it a bit too easy to tap by accident while moving the object, making an undesired move and needing to press undo or reset the puzzle.
These problems aren't a deal-breaker as much as an occasional annoyance, and the overall diversity and quality of puzzles continues to improve with this release. There's a great mix here of logic, object manipulation, math, and “trick” puzzles. Just about everyone should find a nice enough mix of the type of puzzles they prefer that they won't be upset by the few they dislike. The only kind of puzzle missing is word puzzles, since the game was made in Japan and designed with a goal of creating puzzles that could be solved internationally.
As always, there's a huge amount of play value in Miracle Mask. Along with all the puzzles found in the main game, there are a few special kinds of puzzles kept in Layton's chest that the player works on throughout the game. They include a toy robot that must be controlled through obstacle courses, a shop game that involves a special kind of Inventory Tetris, and an adorable bunny that Luke is charged with training to perform in the circus. In addition, players will be able to download a new puzzle for the game free of charge every day for the next year. In an industry dominated by nickel-and-dime DLC, the Layton series really gives players their money's worth.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask takes the traditional Layton formula and freshens it up with a new coat of paint, an unusual setting, and an interesting character-driven story. Small problems with the puzzle interface aside, it continues the series trend of growing and improving with every entry. Layton fans will love it, especially with its look into the professor's past. Even gamers who don't always enjoy puzzle games should give this series a try, although getting acquainted with it via earlier games like Last Specter will allow players to get the most out of the story in Miracle Mask. Either way, this game shows that there's still plenty of magic left in the Professor Layton series, and leaves me interested in playing the final game in this prequel trilogy.
Date: October 31, 2012