A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this challenging puzzle adventure is a great way to combine education with gaming. The over 150 logic puzzles are incorporated into an interesting mystery. While some of the puzzles must be solved to move the story along, others can be skipped and/or tackled later. All of the puzzles have three very helpful hints, so few seem impossible to solve. There is discussion of death and one fight in which no one is injured. Given the complexity of some of the puzzles, we have set the age appropriateness of this game at age 12 and up. Additional puzzles can be downloaded by using the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection.
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What's it about?
PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE DIABOLICAL BOX is a sequel to last year's award-winning Professor Layton and the Curious Village, but you need not have played the first one to enjoy this mystery adventure. Played on the Nintendo DS, players encounter over 150 logic puzzles and brain teasers while solving the mystery of the Elysian Box, an old artifact that is rumored to kill anyone who opens it. You join Professor Layton, a British chap who is an expert at solving puzzles and mysteries, and his young apprentice Luke, just as the Professor receives a disturbing note from his old friend and mentor, Dr. Andrew Schrader which mentions finding the mysterious Elysian Box. Rushing to Dr. Schrader's side, Professor Layton finds him lying lifeless on the floor. The Elysian Box is missing, and the only clue is a train ticket for the super posh Molentary Express. By traveling on the Molentary Express to a variety of locations, including a quaint farming town and a phantom town that is not on any map, you are able to help Professor Layton solve the mystery of the Elysian Box as well as 9 other minor mysteries. At each location, there are people to talk with, puzzles to solve, and objects to find.
Is it any good?
What makes this puzzle game so much fun is that most of the puzzles fit nicely into the story. For example, when the train needs to switch tracks inside a tunnel, you must solve a puzzle about moving two trains between switching areas while keeping the cars in order. Other puzzles are presented by quirky characters; and, if you don't solve their puzzle, they won't tell you what they know. But not all puzzles are tied to moving the story forward; some you can skip with no consequence, and visit them later.
Another reason this game is so good is because it is structured to help you succeed. At each location, you can hunt for hint coins by simply tapping on objects in a scene. With these coins, you can purchase up to three hints for every puzzle. The game reminds you where you are in the story and provides you with a journal to consult, which is helpful since this is a complicated story. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is a visually exciting game, with wonderful hand-drawn watercolor scenes. Plus the dialogue is witty and some of it is even spoken aloud. All in all, this is a superb game for kids ages 12 and up and all adults who love logic puzzles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether more games ought to combine education with gaming. Can you think of other educational games that are equally as fun?
How important were the characters to your enjoyment of this game? How about the dialogue and the scenery? The music? What components are necessary to make a game great?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.