Monday, January 18, 2010

Yummy Snacks for the Brain

K's gift for me this year was (surprise, surprise) a video game. But no worries, this was one title I had specially requested: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. If you've never heard of the series, Professor Layton is a British professor of archeology strongly modeled after Sherlock Holmes, and he travels everywhere with Luke the young apprentice/sidekick.* The repeating theme of the series is to deliver Mensa-like puzzles wrapped in the guise of solving a mystery plot, with 2D animated cutscenes interspersed between.

For some reason, I'm very particular about the type of puzzle games I like. People were going gaga over Puzzle Quest a couple of years ago (K included), but after an hour of play time, I just couldn’t choke down anymore. It was just too repetitive, like ingesting the same tuna salad sandwich for lunch every day of your middle school life. But Professor Layton is the equivalent of eating fiber granola bars that are magically infused with over 60 varieties of calorie-free frosting. It’s appealing to the mental taste buds and good for you!

One new feature I love is the memo pad that allows you to jot down notes on a translucent whiteboard while solving a puzzle. No more scrambling around for scraps of paper when tackling those hard math problems! I ended up wolfing down the entire game in ~15 hours (hidden stuff included, minus 2 ridiculously hard bonus puzzles). Now it's back to methodically plugging through Scribblenauts (even that innovative jewel is getting a little tiring).

* Many people have made, ah, inquiries as to why Professor Layton is traveling across countries with a 10ish-year-old boy that apparently has no parents. Kind of like Batman and Robin. So when I unwrapped my gift, I found that K had so thoughtfully taped a label to the case, changing its title to "Professor Layton and the Curious Urges." ::sigh::

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