“Picarats Make The World Go Round” Professor Layton And The Miracle Mask Review

First released back in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, Professor Layton and The Curious Village became a hit with owners in America, and since then, has released a subsequent game every year with great success, and after 4 games on the original DS, the series finally moves to the Nintendo 3DS.

Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask is the latest game in the series, and with the move to the 3DS, the presentation has taken an obvious upgrade/downgrade depending of the point of view of the person.

The game begins when the Professor himself , accompanied by self-appointed assistants Luke Triton and Emmy Altava, visit the desert oasis of Monte d’Or, where strange incidents have been occurring. Soon after their arrival, they are greeted by the mysterious Masked Gentleman, who apparently has turned many of the carnival attendants into stone, he soon flees and is followed by the trio, only managing to escape in a cloud of smoke, this puts everyone on a journey for the truth, where even the past might have some answers.

The presentation in the Professor Layton games is always top notch, right from the opening anime video sequence (the game contains many of them for your viewing pleasure) the art style is very distinct and charming, the music in the game (just as before) is some of the most “classy” sounding from any videogame, it’s soothing and can help you concentrate on the puzzles, and even it can be downright beautiful at times, as shown in this video.


The gameplay in this game is simple, yet difficult. You spend your time touching things on the screen, finding characters to talk to, searching for collectable items and hint coins (more on that later), and finding puzzles. The hard part (to many) comes from the puzzles themselves, and this is the meat and bones of the game, there are over 150 different puzzles that are found at different points in the game, some are optional, and many are required to advance, the puzzles are varied, and range from arithmetic problems, to use of logic, to observational puzzles that when solved, give out points.

Speaking of points, puzzles are given rank with points dubbed “picarats“, the more picarats it’s worth, the more difficult it is, the value of the picarats decreases if the player gets it wrong, but you can get a hint in the form of “Hint Coins” that give tips ranging from minor, to “this is the answer” in order to conserve picarats. And some may ask; what is the point of picarats? Well, picarats are used for post-game content, ranging from character profiles to in-game movies.

The game adds variety to the mix by introducing some minigames in the form of a Robot (lead it to the right spot using a limited assorted of movements) a Shop (arrange items in the correct pattern to make an efficient sale) and finally, Rabbit, (help a rabbit become a great actor in order to be allowed back on the circus). These mini-games aren’t necessary for game completion, but each can give bonuses, one of such is the rabbit, which helps you find Hint Coins, Treasures, and even Hidden Puzzles in other areas.

The story keeps you immersed, switching between the past version of Layton and his present self in order unlock the mysteries surrounding the Masked Gentleman, the mask, and the city of Monte d’Or itself, as the Professor, the player will come across many colorful characters that may help, or most of the time, hinder you, not with violence mind you, but with puzzles, since that seems to be the answer to 90% of your problems in this game.

This game also has some replay value, that’s right, replay value, because from the day of release for one year, players will be able to download a different puzzle a day, testing the limits of your intelligence each and every day, the difficulty varies from puzzle to puzzle, but some might leave you stomped.

One of the complaints in the game comes from the graphics, while not my personal complaint (this comes more from other fans) is one of the most controversial to longtime fans. The character designs being changed from static images to all out 3D models was a low blow to purists, who think it makes the characters to be clunky looking and somehow removes the charm found in the previous games.

Another complaint personally, is that the series has not shied away from the usual fare, it still works mind you, but there will be a time when it just won’t cut it, thankfully, Level 5 is a dependable company and I’m confident they will give us gamers something new in the future..

I give this game an 8 out of 10. It is a great game that will appeal to those who enjoy text based games with an interesting story, or those who enjoy a good puzzle. But those who are trigger happy keep away, most of the gameplay involves poiningt and clicking.

To those whose interest has been piqued, here is a video with the first 15 minutes of the game.

About - I'm a gamer from a young age, I mostly specialize in Platformers, RPGs, adventure and odd quirky titles that may come stateside.

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