Sunday, October 03, 2010

Late on Layton News

The next Professor Layton puzzle compendium for Nintendo DS has jailbreaked Japan at last. I'm late with that news. I gotta say, compared to the first two editions, this one seems to be in danger of burgeoning incoherence. The plot is a small melange of poor players who strut and stumble near their marks, full of squeak and aggravation signifying little.

The puzzles are droll, though. One's time is spent in a little flood of fun, and Flora has showed up in mid-game, reprising her role in Volume 2 to the evident annoyance of The Professor and both Lukes. Oh, well. We'll see what happens.

Predictably, the puzzles are even easier than they were in Volume 2. Gotta dumb down for Americans, I guess. It's amazing what passes for gray matter in this country. In Australia and the U.K., this Volume 3 is the "Lost" Future. If we Merkins plugged into Disney Channel, Faux Snooze 'n EmmTeeVee get any dumber, it'll be the "Lost" Paradise.

So far, the low watermark in this opus is Puzzle #34, The Mysterious Memo. The puzzle is, paraphrasing, your roommate left you a note reading "101 x 5 =" on a slip of paper NEXT TO A CALCULATOR (emphasis provided by official hints). What could this mean? The answer is SOS, or "Help," as you prefer, because "505" looks sort of like ess oh ess. This is a perfect example of the Agatha Christie Sociopath Plot Device, because the real conundrum is why has such an urgent appeal been disguised in a calculator keyboard pun written on a (stop me if you've heard this one) SHEET OF PAPER?!?!!? What has happened to my roommate, Dr. Millmoss?

Oh, well. My favorite genre of Layton puzzles is the Princess-in-a-Box variety, otherwise known as Sliding Block puzzles. The DS is a perfect platform for these, of which there are hundreds or thousands, ranging in difficulty from the merely brow-creasing to the Zen meditation toys which may be solved in months or decades. The one in the game at hand that caused me a few extra moments was #86, The Impassable Gate.



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