The Professor Layton series ("Reiton-kyōju series" (レイトン教授シリーズ) is a puzzle video game series for the Nintendo DS and is developed by Nintendo and Level-5. The series currently consists of four games and one film. At least two more games for the Nintendo 3DS and at least one more film are due for 2010/2011. Level 5 has also discussed that a third trilogy is in the works. The first three games are about Professor Layton and Luke's adventures together and their eventual parting of ways. The next three games and the film are prequels and are about how Luke and Layton met and their "original" adventures. Although only the first trilogy is available outside of Japan, Level 5 has stated that eventually the other games and films will be localized.
Each title is based in a series of puzzles and mysteries given by the citizens of towns that the main characters visit. It is not necessary to solve all the puzzles to progress, but some are mandatory and at certain points in the game a minimum number of puzzles must be solved before the story will continue.
The story in video games is that Professor Layton, a renowned archaeologist, is called to solve various mysteries in different places.
Professor Layton is always accompanied by his apprentice Luke, a cheerful child who brings a touch of humor to the story of Layton, and occasionally by his adopted daughter, Flora, an orphan who was placed under Layton's care under the orders of her late father. It is unclear of the children's ages, and who is the oldest or youngest, but it is suspected that, as of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Luke is around the age of thirteen.
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village (レイトン教授と不思議な町)
- Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (レイトン教授と悪魔の箱)
- Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (レイトン教授と最後の時間旅行)
- Professor Layton and the Spectre's Flute (レイトン教授と魔神の笛)
- Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (レイトン教授と奇跡の仮面)
There was also a "Friendly Version" for The Curious Village, from which all weekly puzzles are unlocked, as well as the game being slightly easier for those who were troubled previously. For Diabolical Box, the Japan-only "Level-5 Premium Silver/Gold" collections on Nintendo DS included an exclusive side-story, "Professor Layton and the London Holiday" (レイトン教授とロンドンの休日) in addition to the actual game and another Level-5 game, Inazuma Eleven. The Holiday in London includes ten puzzles, some of which are from the first game, and a short storyline, set in Professor Layton's London office, in which he reminisces about his previous adventures around the world.
A new mobile phone Professor Layton game is intended for release around the same time as the fifth game. However it is unknown when the game will be released in North America.
The game is essentially a collection of puzzles with exploration sections between them. The puzzles take the form of brain teasers and are only loosely tied to the plot, although the player must solve a certain number to progress. A hint system is included, which requires the use of "hint coins", found hidden in the landscape of the game and in limited quantity, to reveal each hint. The player is given ten hint coins at the start of the game.
All puzzles were created for this series by Akira Tago, who is famous for his best-selling Mental Gymnastics series. Curious Village contains 135 puzzles, and Diabolical Box contains 153 puzzles (Plus a special puzzle obtained via the use of codes found in Curious Village).
All games in this series are compatible with Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, allowing players to connect to the internet and unlock new puzzles every Thursday at noon (UTC-9). In the unlockable puzzles, the player cannot earn any additional picarats, and rather than use the hint coin system, a new hint is provided weekly.
With the use of an appropriate cheat device the extra puzzles can be unlocked early without connecting to Nintendo Wi-Fi.
The Curious Village
In the first game of the series, Layton and his apprentice Luke are invited to the town of St. Mystere by the family of late Baron Augustus Reinhold to figure out the secret behind his last will and testament where he stated that whoever solves the mystery of the elusive "Golden Apple" will inherit his entire fortune. However, it does not take long for the duo to find that the mystery around the golden apple is just one among the many secrets involving its estranged inhabitants.
The Diabolical Box
The main story revolves around Professor Layton and his young apprentice Luke traveling to meet Layton's mentor, who has sent them a letter about a mysterious box. Layton's mentor writes that he wishes to have Layton take care of his information if anything were to happen to him. Professor Layton and Luke rush to the mentor's home to find him dead under mysterious circumstances. From there the pair travel to discover the secrets of the "Diabolical box". Their only clue is a train ticket with no destination. The game contains 138 puzzles in the main story. However, there are a complete total of 153 puzzles to be unlocked. The European and Australian version of this game is entitled Pandora's Box. It is substantially the same but a few puzzles are different.
The Unwound Future
Layton and Luke go see a demonstration of new invention known as the Time Machine. A new mystery also unfolds when Layton receives a letter supposedly sent from Luke ten years into the future. Chronologically, the game will be the last adventure in the series, but not the last game released. The game was unveiled at E3 2010 and was released on September 12, 2010. The game will be released in the United Kingdom on October 22, 2010. The European version of this game is entitled Professor Layton and the Lost Future
The Specter's Flute
Announced on March 11, 2009 by Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, it appears to be the first installment in a new trilogy of prequels, set when Luke first became Layton's apprentice. The story starts when Layton stumbles upon a mysterious fog-enshrouded town, home of the legend of a great giant who menaces the countryside whenever the Specter's Flute is played. The young Luke plays a key role in this legend, and so does Remi Altava—a female colleague of Layton's and a new main character introduced in the game. The game was released in Japan in November 2009.
The Mask of Miracle (working title)
Announced on November 25, 2009 by Level-5, this will be the fifth game in the Professor Layton series but take place after The Specter's Flute. Professor Layton and Luke follow Jean Descole to the mysterious Casino City in search of the mask he wears. Casino City was created by the powers of the Mask of Miracle. Layton and Luke must uncover the truth about the Mask of Miracle. The Truth is hidden deep within the Mask. The game was showcased during E3 2010 as a Nintendo 3DS title, as Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle.
An animation film, called Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, was produced by Masakazu Kubo, who is mainly known for producing the Pokémon films and animated by P.A. Works, the same company that develops the animated cutscenes for the games. It contains an original story, separate from the game series, and taking place after the events of The Specter's Flute. It has been a general success in both Japan and Singapore where the movie was released.
On March 2, 2009, Level-5 opened the official Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva website. It contains four commercials about Layton and Luke, in the form of puzzles. Manga Entertainment plans to release the film on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom in September 2010.
For list of complete characters, go to List of Professor Layton characters
The Professor Layton series has been generally successful in the US, the UK, and Japan. Professor Layton and the Curious Village sold over 700,000 units in Japan in 2007.  The game was also the top selling game for the Nintendo DS in the United States in the first three weeks after its release. After it was restocked in the UK, sales of Professor Layton increased 54%, moving it from 10th place to fourth place.
Curious Village received generally positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game had an average score of 86% based on 48 reviews. On Metacritic, the game had an average score of 85/100, based on 57 reviews. The combination of the adventure game and "brain training" genres received mixed appreciation. Some reviewers praised the game for the successful combination with 1UP 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 commends the game for its "clever concept, with plenty to solve and unlock as well as its fantastic presentation". However, he criticises "some puzzles feeling tacked on and the music can get annoying".
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box was considered to be a major improvement from the original. In Japan, the game has sold 815,369 copies in Japan, according to Famitsu, as of July 9, 2008. [www.Japan-gamecharts.com/ds.php] The UK's Official Nintendo Magazine awarded the game a score of 92% (and consequently their Gold Award medal), praising the increased number of puzzles, animated scenes and voice acting, but complained that it could be slightly repetitive at times. IGN gave the game a score of 8.5 and also their Editor's Choice Award.
Although Professor Layton and the Unwound Future has not yet been released outside of Japan, the game was the 15th best-selling game in 2008.
The series was popular enough to have a movie called Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva made. So far it has only been released in Japan and Singapore, but it has received positive reviews in both countries.
- The series is partially inspired by the Sherlock Holmes book series, with Professor Layton being inspired by Sherlock, Luke being inspired by John Watson, Inspector Chelmey being inspired by Inspector Lestrade, and Don Paolo being inspired by Professor Moriarty.
- Anton Herzen being accused of being a vampire could be based on the horror book Dracula.
- St. Mystere is inspired by several villages located throughout France.
Manga intended for child audiences has been serialized since the February 2008 special edition of Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic. The title of this manga is Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery (レイトン教授とユカイな事件 Reiton-kyōju to yukai na jiken ), covering many mysteries in the story. Whether or not the manga will be localized in other countries remains to be seen.
- ↑ Level 5's new game's genre is unknown? New style game to train your brain (Japanese). Famitsu. Retrieved on 2008-01-02.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Layton Kyoju and the Devil's Box becomes a movie quality (Japanese). Famitsu. Retrieved on 2008-01-02.
- ↑ Template:Citeweb
- ↑ http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-04-06/manga-u.k-to-release-1st-professor-layton-anime-film
- ↑ Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. pp. 41.