If there’s one thing Nintendo’s DS is ideal for, it’s interactive puzzlers. And Nintendo has enlisted the talents of Professor Akira Tago, the writer of many best-selling puzzle books, in order to make sure that the brainteasers featured in Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box are top notch.
Although the game is essentially a series of around 150 puzzles and brain teasers, there’s a bit of a narrative tying them all together. Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box follows the story of – as you’ve probably guessed – Professor Layton, and also his ‘apprentice’, a young boy named Luke. The story unravels as a murder mystery of sorts as you unlock more and more of the narrative with each puzzle solved.
The puzzles themselves are varied. There’s investigative ‘Where’s Wally?’ type anomaly spotting, along with mazes, maths and logic-style puzzles, many of which are fiendishly clever and satisfying to solve. You’ll earn ‘Picarats’ for successfully solving puzzles, although the value of each puzzle decreases with every unsuccessful attempt (in order to discourage a trial-and-error approach).
Again, the puzzles range from very easy to absurdly difficult. Thankfully, you can purchase hints using Hint Coins. You have a finite number, but more can be found scattered about the environment by the investigative player.
The narrative and the animation styles are reminiscent of the Tintin comic series, and Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box subsequently boasts the same level of charm. I’d hazard a guess that its intended audience comprises those who enjoy traditional crosswords and Reader’s Digest-style brain teasers.
Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box offers bite-sized servings of puzzler goodness, but there’s also a well-delivered narrative if you want something more than a mere compendium of puzzles. It’s the ideal time sink for the frequent flier.