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So, yeah. I just finished this game. Welcome to five years ago! I'm not sure what possessed me to start it back up again. But I was probably inspired by receiving Mask of Miracle in the mail and throwing it into my ever-growing pile of Layton games.
I'll preface by saying that I've always been somewhat of a Level-5 hater. Though they ARE certifiable technical wizards, I've always found their stories to be so-so, their action RPG combat systems to be shitty, and their game design to be overcomplicated and monotonous.
But I did enjoy what I had previously played of Curious Village. I rationalize that by telling myself that, as in Dragon Quest VIII, they didn't really design the majority of the 'gameplay'. Essentially, they put a framework around Akira Tago's puzzles. On my initial foray into the Curious Village, that framework kind of annoyed me, to be honest. Solving puzzles in the context of an adventure game is pretty traditional, I guess, but it just felt like an awkward fit to me. I wanted everyone to shut up so that I could get to the next puzzle. And tapping every screen for hint coins was maddening. Like an even-more-annoying version of scanning.
So what do I think now that I've finished it? First off, tapping for hint coins still sucks. What a terrible 'mechanic'. It might have been okay if the coins were hidden only in things like light poles and garbage cans, but they were also found in random bits of pavement. And, actually, it wouldn't have been okay, either way. Bleah.
However, the story DID begin to interest me towards the midpoint of the game. I wanted to see how it would all end, and it concluded in a fairly satisfying way. I still don't think that the puzzles were well-integrated into the plot, though. Instead of having every key moment portrayed through a cutscene, the developers should've made you solve your way out of the crisis. Like, at least make me assemble that getaway kite! And I would have liked to have more involvement in the solving of the mystery. A little touch of Ace Attorney flavor. But I did enjoy the story. It was weird and, towards the end, oddly affecting.
I think a lot of the credit for that should go to the presentation. The music and graphics of Curious Village really create a consistent and powerful sense of place and atmosphere.
The puzzles themselves were (mostly) very fun. I solved 108 out of the 109 I found in the game proper, only receiving false negatives on the judging once or twice. The only challenge that I ran out of patience with was that fucking apple slide puzzle. Does ANYBODY enjoy those? The "move the ball to the exit" puzzles were also quite challenging for me. And I remember some of the downloadable puzzles being irritatingly hard, so I don't know if I'll try to complete those.
I'm usually burned out by the end of a game, but, oddly enough, I feel like I could roll right into the second game in the Layton franchise. Maybe I just will... (or maybe I'll finally finish the first Ace Attorney game).
Anyway, what did you guys think of Curious Village? Can you even remember, at this point? Which puzzles were your favorite/least favorite? And how would you rank the Layton games, overall?
Glad you enjoyed it Anand! As you can see in the link to my review in the OP, I think highly of this game and was definitely compelled to go on and finish the remainder of the games in the series (which I finally accomplished after beating Miracle Mask!).
Now that I've played all 5 games, I really can't remember any specific puzzles from the first game that I really enjoyed or not. But yeah, the sliding puzzles are painful.
Are you planning on watching the movie Anand (Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva)? It makes sense to watch after playing through the first three or four games (I watched it after finishing the Last Specter). According to wikipedia, the film "takes place between the events of Professor Layton and the Last Specter and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, as a flashback story three years before the events of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box." I'm not sure I got that sense myself though.
As far as ranking the games, all the games are consistently good and none have a particular edge over another, in my book, though I did think highly of Last Specter, and perhaps would rank Diabolical Box the lowest.
The 3DS game, Miracle Mask, is very good though and is a strong contender for my favorite too, especially with some significant ways they change up the series (including doing away with the 'tap everywhere' mechanic).
Professor Layton is such a great IP. The presentation is superb, and the gameplay tickles my brain in just the right way. In an Iwata Asks, the producer from Level-5 basically said he created a game that uses the core concept of Brain Age but adds layers upon layers of "game" on top of it. It really suits my gaming preferences to a T. I play the new game every year and enjoyed them all immensely.
Let me tell you that the first game has less direction and thus may be a bit more of a chore to play than the rest of the games in the series. It had a great story though. That twist was mindblowing! The hint-coin hunting can get tedious, but it's not really necessary (as Roy mentioned, they finally changed up this mechanic in Miracle Mask, it's more bearable now). I don't enjoy the sliding block puzzles, either, but they pop up in every game just to spite us!
I hope you continue to enjoy the series. Diabolical Box is a great follow-up with an incredible ending that left me in tears. Unwound Future is another gem, and Last Specter was great as well. Just completed Miracle Mask, and I love the changes they brought to the formula. I simply can't wait for the conclusion to this series later this year.
Oh, yeah. Did the twist in Curious Village catch you guys off-guard? I kind of saw it coming. I still appreciated the execution, though. I didn't think that Don Paulo would give Layton that lethal injection, but whoo boy!
Good to hear that the tappity-tap-tap is gone. It really isn't necessary to find all of the hint coins, but the completionist in many of us will instinctively try to, anyway.
Zengage is the only handheld Art Style game that I haven't picked up yet. Isn't it basically a slide puzzler? Actually, I have a crazy-ass Nintendo-published Japan-only slide puzzler on the DS. Mawashite Tsunageru Touch Panic:
@roykoopa64 You know, it didn't even occur to me. But I'm open to it. I mean, most game universes/stories kind of shrivel up and die when exposed to the harsh light of a film projector, but it could be charming, I guess. How did y'all like it?
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention was the horribly artifacting in the Curious Village FMVs. They look horrible on the XL!