Review: This review will self destruct in five seconds...
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future marks the third installment in Nintendo and Level-5's innovative point-and-click series. For those who haven't checked into the surprisingly original titles, you have a bit of catching up to do. While the first game, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, gave itself some big shoes to fill, the following Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box tries on those shoes, and Unwound Future makes them walk.
Unwound Future quickly picks up where Diabolical Box left off, working off of a fairly vague plot tie between the two games. However, the story quickly immerses the player in the time travel-soaked plot; an ever-interesting subject of which many recent games have been lacking. 'Unwound Future' embodies the many ramifications of time-travel perfectly, allowing a whole new twist on the included puzzles.
Without spoiling too much, the Professor Layton series revolves around Hershel Layton and Luke, a duo comparable to an un-Americanized version of Bart and Homer Simpson. The two begin every adventure with the discovery of a puzzling incident taking place in London. Gathering their wit and integrity, they decide to hit the road, often unveiling what comes as an unexpected surprise by each game's end.
Unwound Future is no different. As the story opens, Professor Hershel Layton and Luke sit in London at a private demonstration of the world's first-ever working time machine. However, during the test run, the game closely references Chrono Trigger's introductory sequence. As London's spectators are presented with the time machine's first test run, it malfunctions and triggers an explosion. As the smoke clears, Layton and Luke are left with the disappearance of the game's briefly-introduced key characters. Soon after learning crucial details regarding the time machine's invention and execution, Layton and Luke seek out its creator, leading to the beauty of the mystery behind the suspicious incident.
While Curious Village contained roughly 135 in-game puzzles, Unwound Future will likely boast nearly 225 puzzles after Nintendo and Level-5 complete their weekly puzzle releases, available for free download through the DS' Wi-Fi Connection. Compared to the previous games, Unwound Future presents players with more visual and logic-based puzzles, getting away from puzzles that require the player to completely analyze the given scenario in order to prevent making a stupid mistake. That being said, I'll admit I had to use the game's official walkthrough blog for some of the solutions. I won't lie; I was stumped, plain and simple.
In addition to the puzzles, several additional modes have been included. As with previous Layton titles, Level-5 switches out modes, and this Layton proves no exception. This time around, players are presented with "Toy Car," "Parrot," and "Storybook" mini-games. The "Toy Car" mini-game presents players with 10 tracks, requiring the use of a limited amount of turn signals in order to collect objects that are strewn about the track. Each of the 12 courses in the "Parrot" mode includes a course filled with points where rope segments can be drawn. These rope segments, when drawn strategically and correctly, allow Luke's new pet parrot to bounce to the end of the course, delivering an item to townspeople who appear throughout the course of the game. (This group of puzzles can be very time-consuming and frustrating, as you are given a limited number of ropes to draw.) The most innovative mini-game of the bunch is the "Storybook" feature. Throughout the game, Luke and Layton collect stickers by completing puzzles. These stickers are to be placed into each chapter of the Storybook, but they must be entered so that the story makes sense. (For example, "The mustached [woman]
entered the room.." would be incorrect - though maybe not so incorrect here in America!)
If you haven't guessed by now, I thoroughly enjoyed Nintendo's third Layton installment, and am already eagerly awaiting the fourth. Debatably Level-5's most ambitious and attention-grabbing series to date, Professor Layton is one which should not be left alone. The gameplay is extremely solid for a point-and-click title, a mechanic that normally elicits a collective sigh from gamers. The music is excellent as always, the characters are extremely believable and established, and the plot continuation evolves successfully across each release.