Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Spring 2011 Video Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $29.99
Gaming System: Nintendo DS

In Nintendo's third U.S. release of the Professor Layton series, the professor and his apprentice Luke hurdle into another brain-teasing adventure. The storyline is about time. The duo is in London to view a Time Machine when an explosive mishap occurs. The Prime Minister is kidnapped into the future, and the sleuths receive a letter sent by the ten years older Luke of the future. He warns that London has become chaotic. Only the professor can prevent that unruliness by taking steps in the present.

The story unfolds step-by-step as players solve puzzles accessed by clicking on characters they meet. Some characters provide a puzzle; others yammer endlessly. One of the game's biggest faults is way too much dialogue (much of which you read). And all talk, less action, at times, makes "Professor Layton" a dull game. That said, the graphics embody a hand-painted anime charm, and sometimes they veer toward well-done high quality video segments of London.

The star of this game is the set of 165 puzzles. They vary from visual riddles to logic challenges to spatial orientation puzzles and number puzzles, and more. An early puzzle, for instance, called Needling Needles, is straightforward visual un-puzzling-determining how many eyes of multiple needles one of two threads passes through. The puzzles get harder. Midway, there's a challenging and fun Park Your Car puzzle, which is really a parking-lot maze. And much later, the Reverse Rotation puzzle, where you reposition sets of gears to reverse the direction of the main gears, is hard and may send some players to the "Superhint" option for definitive help.

If you're looking for a decent videogame with real educational value, Professor Layton provides a lot of head-scratchers and hours of game play.

Don Oldenburg   ©2011 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Nintendo of America
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