A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is collection of more than 100 puzzles that puts kids' thinkers to the test. It forces players to use logic, employ spatial reasoning skills, think hard about tricky word problems, and apply basic math skills. There's virtually no violence, and the game's generous, smart, and helpful heroes make for terrific role models, acting as proof that calm reasoning and kindness are our best tools when tackling tough mysteries. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning all parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
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What's it about?
The first 3DS game to star Nintendo's dapper doctor, PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE MIRACLE MASK is another entry in the series' current string of prequels. Layton, his assistant Emmy, and his apprentice Luke travel to the city of Monte d'Or to investigate a series of incidents caused by a mysterious "Masked Gentleman," who is wreaking havoc and scaring tourists. As in past Professor Layton games, players journey from one scene to another, combing for clues by searching around the screen. They'll initiate conversations with peculiar locals -- a clown, a policeman, a shopkeeper -- who often offer our intrepid trio a puzzle of some sort. The bulk of the game is spent solving these puzzles, allowing the story to progress and its many mysteries one-by-one to be resolved. Outside the main narrative lie side-story episodes, loads of interesting virtual objects to collect, and three mini-games that have players guiding a robot through mazes, helping a store owner sell her wares, and training a bunny so he can rejoin his friends in the circus.
Is it any good?
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask looks a bit different than its precursors. The story is presented in 3D on the top screen, with players able to shift perspective by scrolling around using their stylus. However, the rest of the game is, by and large, business as usual -- which is just fine. No other franchise delivers such a broad array of enjoyable brain breakers accessible enough that 6th and 7th graders should be able to work through them without too much trouble yet sufficiently challenging so that even adults can feel a sense of satisfaction upon completing them.
Returning fans will recognize the style of many of the game's puzzles. Some force you to carefully analyze images, others are tricky riddles, and still others involve clever application of basic math skills -- but each one is different enough from the last that boredom never sets in. Add in yet another engaging story filled with quirky personalities and several seemingly unsolvable grand mysteries, and you have a recipe for a very memorable Professor Layton adventure. Don't miss it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fun involved in solving puzzles. What sorts of real-world puzzles have you recently solved? How do you feel when you figure out the answer to a tricky riddle?
Families can also discuss the strategies stores employ to sell us things. Did this game's shop mini-game make you think about the tactics real-world stores use to make you buy more stuff? Can you think of any instances in which you purchased things you later realized you didn't really need or even want? How can you avoid this in the future?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Math: algebra, patterns, sequences
Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
- Skills: Creativity: imagination
Thinking & Reasoning: deduction, logic, solving puzzles
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: October 25, 2012
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: STEM, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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