|Dev: Level-5 and Brownie Brown|
|Release: October 17, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence, Simulated Gambling|
The game's graphics also contribute to the quality of the puzzles, being crisp and easy to read. The town of Misthallery is fun to explore, with lovely still backgrounds and plenty of nooks and crannies to click on. The eccentric townsfolk are well-depicted, from the daunting police chief to Aunt Taffy the crotchety candy-peddler to the strange kid who seems to be half-pigeon. The main story is punctuated by attractive animated cutscenes that never drag on too long. It's nice to see a DS game that is generous with such scenes without being taken over by them. The game's sound does its job well, with atmospheric music and sound effects that serve to highlight the puzzles. The voice acting is solid and generally not overdone, though Emmy's voice occasionally migrates from plucky to annoying. The Professor Layton games have always had some of the nicest aesthetic design on the DS, and The Last Specter continues this trend.
Even once The Last Specter's main story is complete, the game is far from over. After getting a game-clear save, the player can return to Misthallery to explore and find any puzzles that have been missed. There's an in-game menu full of extra puzzles that are collected as the game progresses, including railroad sets, fish tank puzzles, and a puppet theater. There's a post-game menu outside the game that gives the player access to expert-level puzzles, secret puzzles unlocked once the player collects a large amount of picarats, and the weekly downloadable puzzles that will be available starting the week after release.
If all these extra puzzles aren't enough, there's an entire bonus game included on the cartridge. Professor Layton's London Life is a cute little RPG by Brownie Brown, the creators of Earthbound. London Life involves creating a custom character who moves into Little London and works to build a new life. Players can get jobs, meet and help out the locals, collect various outfits that help them to access new areas by creating the right kind of impression on others, and purchase and decorate their own living spaces. The amount of fun provided by London Life depends on how much the player enjoys open-ended gameplay and simple minigames. Those who like it can play for over a hundred hours if they wish, though it's likely to get fairly repetitive after a while.
Professor Layton and the Last Specter carries on the reputation for quality that is a hallmark of the series. With a touching story, puzzles that can be tricky but are almost always fair, and excellent production values, the main game is in itself well worth the price of admission for all but the most advanced puzzle gamers. The ridiculous amount of extra play value available via the game's extras is icing on the cake. This is a game that is not to be missed by puzzle gaming fans, who will be kept busy for a very long time—probably until Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle comes out for the 3DS next year.
CCC Contributing Writer