Professor Layton first graced our handhelds a little over six years ago, seven in Japan, and has became a mainstay for Nintendo handhelds ever since. Level-5 started with Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which introduced us to a game perfect for the Nintendo DS that was full of people to meet, puzzles to complete, and mysteries to solve. The series has branched out further with a movie and an entry on the Nintendo 3DS. Now, after waiting exactly a year from the Japanese release, the second entry for the Nintendo 3DS has arrived with Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy.
With a game series like Professor Layton, one of the first things you almost have to talk about is the story. Starting with Curious Village, the original trilogy consisted of Diabolical Box and Unwound Future. This led to a prequel trilogy of games known as Last Specter, Miracle Mask, and completing this trilogy is Azran Legacy. As a result, there is a lot of backstory and connections related to the other two prequels, as well as the original trilogy that takes place after the events of this game. Luckily, this game can easily be played by a complete newcomer to the series, as it presents a mostly self-contained story.
Be forewarned as there may be minor spoilers moving forward. I won’t give away any of the major twists, and there are plenty, but still be careful. The game starts off with three fellow protagonists from the prior prequel trilogy games, Professor Hershel Layton, Luke Triton, and Emmy Altava, on an adventure to learn about the discovery of what is called a “living mummy.” If you’ve never played the series and thus don’t know anything about these three characters, you will very quickly discover what archetype they fill and how they fit into the story. It was a nice surprise that the living mummy from all the trailers was revealed at just about the very beginning of the game as Aurora, a messenger for the ancient Azran people. Aurora starts the game with amnesia, with memories coming back to her the further you get in the game, which allows you to see growth in her character throughout.
The story itself is very captivating, with plenty of mystery, though it does slow down a bit during Chapter 4, when you go on a long quest to find Azran eggs. This takes you to multiple locations, but the tempo of the story stays pretty low during these parts. Luckily, once you get into Chapter 5, everything kicks right into overdrive with excellent story elements and plot twists galore. Some may see a few of them as a bit cliche or predictable, but I still quite enjoyed even the ones I thought might be coming.
Really about the only fault I had on the story itself was that I thought it did not tie into Professor Layton himself and was more of just him being there around other events, especially due to being spoiled by games in the series like Unwound Future. However, this issue is completely rectified late in the game with many unexpected turns in the story that hit you on an extremely emotional level due to the personal connections to the characters you’ve come to care for throughout the game or games. Nothing quite reaches the levels of the end of Unwound Future, but it still stacks up well with the rest of the series.
When the Professor Layton series jumped to the Nintendo 3DS with Miracle Mask, the franchise revamped the controls by having the top screen be searchable with a magnifying glass that you move across the bottom touchscreen, rather than the locations you are searching being directly on the bottom screen. That playstyle has been carried over to Azran Legacy and it certainly does take some getting used to. However, once you get the hang of it, moving your magnifying glass across the screen to find items or speak with people will be a breeze.Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy Review,