Elementary My Dear DS: Diabolical Box doesn't hold many surprises B | Film Events | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Screen » Film Events

Elementary My Dear DS: Diabolical Box doesn't hold many surprises B

Professor Layton is a British professor of archaeology, sort of Indiana Jones in a top hat. As the hero of a trilogy of games (The


1 comment
Professor Layton is a British professor of archaeology, sort of Indiana Jones in a top hat. As the hero of a trilogy of games (The Diabolical Box is the second to arrive stateside) he's become popular amongst gamers, a group of people who are eager to solve puzzles, the biggest of which is: Since I own a DS, what do I play on it?
Professor Layton's answer to that conundrum is: Puzzles! The Layton games are full of brainteasers - math problems, mazes, logic puzzles and screen searches. They are scattered between episodes in a semi-animated story in which the professor and his chipper sidekick - the eerily unblinking Luke - solve the mystery behind the death of the professor's old teacher.

At first the Diabolical Box's puzzles relate - at least tangentially - to Layton's ongoing investigation. There's a crime-scene to search for clues, a locked room that needs to be unlocked, a damaged map to reassemble... But within an hour the characters are saying things like "I don't know anything about the box, but check out this maze... " or "Help me move these stacks of pancakes... "
It's a slightly brainier version of the Wario Ware games, which present snippets of game-action in a rapid-fire barrage of micro-games. The puzzles in Layton are thoughtful conundrums that reward intelligent thinking, imagination, and a touch of patience. None of them are too difficult to solve in a few minutes. Most of them are instant-guess easy.
Like a milquetoast Scooby Doo gang, Professor Layton and Luke regularly interrupt the flow of puzzles to talk about their search for the diabolical box of the title. Several hours into the quest, the story begins to develop some emotional resonance as the characters transform into subtle creations. (A nostalgic millionaire is a beautiful example of a well-rounded videogame character.)
Any mood this bittersweet mystery evokes is sabotaged every time the game introduces another puzzle. As nice as they are, "Over 150 Brainteasers" are bound to fragment a story into a series of stops-and-starts. If the puzzles had been as handcrafted as the game's graphics and music, or simply synchronized with the story's sensibility, then Layton could have been a Sherlock Holmes for the new century instead of a soft-serve Hardy Boys for the Harry Potter generation.
THE GOOD: The Layton puzzles are good all-ages brainteasers - sort of casual conundrums arranged into a "Big Busy Book" for grownups (and boys and girls). These puzzles are often sliding block puzzles or mapping problems that take good advantage of the DS's Touch Screen.
THE BAD: As winsome and elegant as the game's hand-drawn character designs are, they get jumbled together in too many styles. Occasional blasts of traditional animation are followed by frozen comic-book poses. Greater care with the game's art direction would have unified Layton's visual style and prevented the game's storyline from feeling so fragmented.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A whimsical story and a slew of straightforward puzzles collide in the form of the Professor Layton's Diabolical mystery.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Rated Everyone 10+; Nintendo DS

About The Author

Speaking of Game On


Showing 1-1 of 1


Add a comment

More by Source Weekly

Latest in Film Events