Sam Hansen
E3: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box Impressions
Trek number two for Layton and Luke!
06.05.09 - 9:23 PM

Guys, I'm disappointed. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is one of my all-time favorites surely my personal best of 2008. So when I walked up to Nintendo's booth and spotted the row of DSs donning Diabolical Box, I was in shock. I just wasn't expecting to see it there, let alone see multiple copies. So, of course, I raced over to an open station, booted that puppy up and stared lovingly at its delectableness. Ten minutes later, the demo thanked me for playing, so begrudgingly, I walked away.

Shortest demo ever!?

Yes, it was without a doubt a short-lived experience, but it definitely left me craving for more. From the looks of it, little has changed from the original, and that makes me one happy puzzle-solver!

My sampling began from what looked to be the very start of the game. The professor and his trusty assistant, Luke, have just returned from the countryside by train along with Curious Village regulars Chelmey and Flora. Upon returning to Layton's clustery abode within the city, he and Luke come across a letter from Layton's mentor, Andrew Schrader, who has managed to acquire a strange and feared parcel known as the Elysian Box. Known notoriously for its ability to kill those who open it, Schrader has set off to research the mechanisms behind the dastardly device. And never being a pair to turn down a good mystery, Layton and Luke follow in hot pursuit, utilizing a map enclosed within Schrader's letter to assist him in his endeavors.

Once the initial story segments were out of the way, I was finally given control over my characters. Without breaking the forth wall, Layton provides Luke with a few tutorials dealing with movement about the city and examining objects. Interestingly, he asks Luke to find his keys within a desk of his, which makes me think that there will be much more item collection than there was in the first installment, though I can't quite say for sure.

After madly tapping Layton's house to dust for Hint Coins (resulting in me finding not a one), I stabbed my shoe icon and exited out into the main streets. It was here where I encountered my first puzzle: The map. Layton is, after all, Schrader's apprentice, so it would make sense for there to be a brainteaser awaiting him. Luke decides to tackle it on his own, and we are then whisked away to the oh-so familiar puzzle screen.

The puzzle was a map with a plus-shaped assortment of five missing pieces at its center, and it was my job to arrange those pieces in the correct order so that all of the roads connected. Like the first puzzle in Curious Village, this was accomplished rather painlessly, and I was awarded my ten Picarats in about a minute.

And that was basically it. The demo was over. After speaking with the staff member watching over the booth, he promised that Diabolical Box would be offering more than 150 puzzles (much more than what we saw in the last game) and would continue the franchise tradition of offering weekly puzzles over Nintendo Wi-Fi to keep veteran players on their toes even after the game has concluded.

With the same lovable artwork and music, not to mention the seemingly darker story and new cast of characters and settings, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is shaping up to be everything the first game was and more. A lot more.

Prepare to open that box (or die trying!) come late August!