point and click

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Half-Hour Handheld

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future CoverProfessor Layton and the Unwound Future is the third game in the popular point and click puzzle series on the Nintendo DS. Since I love the series and was going to play the game no matter what, I've decided just to play the first half hour for my readers so you can get a taste of what's to come. Having just been released last week, Unwound Future appears to be another great entry into the series.

For those unfamiliar, the Professor Layton series is developed by Level-5 (yeah, the developers of Dragon Quest IX, these guys are on a serious portable roll) and the first two games in the series were also released on the Nintendo DS. Curious Village saw the North American light in early 2008 and Diabolical Box about this time last year. The games, like the Ace Attorney series before it, are always seeming to play catch up with the Japanese releases; Unwound Future was released two years ago in Japan and the unannounced-outside-Japan Spectre's Flute was released last year. The one nice thing about playing catch up is that you know the great games will continue rolling our way for at least a few more years.

Professory Layton is a fun mix of the point and click genre and Mensa-like brain teasers. The story progresses as you discover clues and solve puzzles, and will seriously push your brain to its limit as the game progresses. As someone who enjoys this kind of challenge, this series has quickly become one of my favorites.

So can Unwound Future continue the series' success with me? Let's play and find out, here's its first half hour.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

First Hour Review

Zack and Wiki Quest for Barbaros Treasure CoverI purchased a Wii at launch just to play The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I wasn't particulary interested in Wii Sports, though it grew on me, but after I beat Zelda, I looked at the upcoming release schedule and promptly sold my Wii. Three years later another Wii falls in my lap and I'm given the opportunity of catching up on what I missed.

Super Mario Galaxy seemed like an obvious play, but after that, selecting games got a little tougher. Super Smash Bros. Brawl? While I had been a huge fan of Melee, I had heard the online offering was weak and the general feel of the game had changed too much. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption? Hadn't enjoyed the second Prime and an unofficial first hour of the game turned me off completely. The game my wife and I decided to get? Wii Fit Plus.

A sad state of affairs for a Nintendo system, in my opinion, but there was one game that had received good reviews and seemed right up my alley: Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. Zack and Wiki is a point and click adventure game drawn in a distinct cartoony style. It was released October, 2007 with lower than expected sales. Here's its first hour.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Full Review

ace Attorney Investigations Miles Edgeworth CoverThis game was a long time coming, but the true evolution of the Ace Attorney series has arrived with Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth.  After four games of playing as a defense attorney, we finally experience what it's like to play as a prosecutor, particularly fan favorite Miles Edgeworth.  Miles has been a staple of the series but mostly as an antagonist turned sort-of-friend, but now we get to take direct control of him in a series of cases surrounding a smuggling ring and a great thief.

I've played all the previous games in the series and reviewed the last two on this site, Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice.  While the games themselves are really long and haven't really evolved gameplay wise over the last five years, I'm still continually drawn to them year in and year out.  They just have this great charm to them that not only stems from great original writing, but also the best translations in the business.  A ton of effort goes into these games' stories and characters, and it shows.

So here's my review of Miles Edgeworth, in what could be the last game in the Ace Attorney series since the team has apparently moved on to a new game called Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.  I truly hope we see more from the Phoenix Wright universe one day though.

Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please!

Full Review

Time Gentlemen Please CoverSo as I'm moving through my Steam backlog, my next games are the adventure duo Ben There, Dan That! and its sequel Time Gentlemen, Please! Both are old-school 2d adventure games, harking back to classics such as Maniac Mansion, Loom, Monkey Island and Sam & Max (admittedly, none of which I have played aside from the free Sam & Max episode on Steam).

 

In case you aren't familiar with the PC adventure game genre, they're dialogue-heavy puzzle/detective games of a sort. You walk around, talk to people, pick things up, interact with objects and generally figure out ways to progress to your next or overall objective. It's generally very simple to play, not requiring twitch skills or muscle memory like most modern games and can be taken at whatever pace you wish. The humor of the games are by far their biggest draw, with large amounts of clever, lighthearted, endearing dialogue. Of course, then the dialogue is the main draw of the genre and allows it to stand out over say, an electronic version of Clue. Other significant factors towards the final product include ambience, intelligent pacing and a basic yet effective control scheme. The genre as a whole has a fairly rabid dedicated fanbase. This is in contrast to the majority of the gaming world, who doesn't even know that the genre exists.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity

First Hour Review
Star Trek Final Unity Cover

I've been on a huge Star Trek kick the last few months, I'm on an epic journey of trying to watch every single Star Trek episode. Ever. I'm about 180 episodes in out of 700+ plus, yeah, let's not get into that right now. But we're celebrating licensed games this month at the First Hour, so it seems appropriate to play a Star Trek video game. I did a lot of reading on what the good Star Trek games are, and landed on this one.

Star Trek: The Next Generations - A Final Unity is a point and click adventure game from Spectrum HoloByte, released in 1995. I'm a fan of adventure games, especially old school ones like Monkey Island, so it seemed like Final Unity would be just the game for me. I remember reading in PC Gamer back in 2000 that there had been no good Star Trek games until then with the release of Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force. This sounded a bit odd to me considering they had been making Star Trek games for almost 20 years already, so I also wanted to try one that came before Elite Force but also had some fans behind it. Final Unity also qualified for that requirement.

Keep in mind that this game was made in 1995 for DOS while looking at the screenshots and reading my descriptions. I was suitably impressed, and believe you will be too. I played the game using DOSBox. Here's the first hour of Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

Full Review
Professor Layton And The Diabolical Box Cover

Professional puzzle-solver and tea lover Professor Hershel Layton and young Luke, his apprentice, are back to solving the ultimate mystery in Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, the sequel to 2008's Curious Village. The game plays as a Myst-like point-and-click with brain-teasers thrown in every couple of minutes; and not the random, bumbling puzzles of Myst, but random, Mensa head-scratchers that will have you reaching for the nearest bottle of headache medicine. Diabolical Box is not just about solving puzzle after puzzle, however, there's a series of unsolved mysteries at hand along with a big cast of characters to help and hinder along the way. The game is chock full of wit and charm, and it is truly hard to put down.

Developers Level-5 seemingly got the formula right the first time, as not much has changed for the sequel (the third game was released last year in Japan and the fourth is almost out there too!). We still have the lovable British accents, the endless number of puzzles, and nearly the same enticing soundtrack. Let's get into my review of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

First Hour Review
Professor Layton And The Diabolical Box Cover

A year and a half ago I had the distinct pleasure of playing Professor Layton and the Curious Village, a mystery game packed with puzzles set in, well, a very curious village. The game was a hit with me and many others, and while Level-5 has doled out three Layton games already and is a few months away from the fourth, they're just getting around to releasing the second outside of Japan. We wait patiently, however, and are rewarded with Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. Nintendo is serving as the publisher in North America, Europe, and Australia, and has done a magnificent job releasing a potentially very niche puzzler to a wider audience. Honestly, the series is filled with such ultra-politeness and quirky British voice talent it's a wonder that something like this has taken off. Professor Layton is simply a perfect storm of great puzzles and marvelous atmosphere.

Level-5 is of course also the developer of Rogue Galaxy, an RPG I recently reviewed for the PlayStation 2. I'm becoming more and more impressed by their range of games they're developing and publishing, and other companies are too, including Square Enix which trusted them with Dragon Quest IX.

The release schedule of the Professor Layton series seems very similar to that of Phoenix Wright, with the West just starting to get the series after a few of them had already been released in Japan. In some ways, this is great because we know that there are a whole slew of games coming, but I just hope it doesn't start feeling stale like Ace Attorney did. Well, here's the first hour of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

Guest Full Review
Secret Of Monkey Island Special Edition Cover

Back in the day, Lucasarts made good games. They made point-and-click adventures, some of the best ever. One thing their adventures were famous for was an odd sense of humor.

Secret of Monkey Island was Lucasarts' first humor game. I've always wanted to play it, so when they repackaged it with new graphics and voice acting, I jumped on it.

I played the first hour for review, and well, I couldn't stop playing: I beat the whole game in the next couple of days. I think that says enough about the first hour experience. Here's the full review.

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a repackaging of Secret of Monkey Island. It follows the story of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who wants nothing more than to sail the high seas, pillaging and plundering, looting and.... well he wants to be a pirate. He starts off on Melee Island to talk to the Pirate Leaders in order to join them. They set him off with three seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish. Along the way he might just fall in love, confront a ghost pirate, and slide down a cable on a rubber-chicken-with-a-pulley-in-the-middle.

Nintendo DS M-Rated Blitz

First Hour Review

Esrb MatureThere are a total of six released M-rated Nintendo DS games: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, theresia, Ultimate Mortal Kombat, Dementium: The Ward, Touch the Dead, and Resident: Evil Deadly Silence (one more game, C.O.R.E. has been rated but not released yet). For over 1100 rated titles on the Nintendo DS, there are just six games considered Mature by the ESRB! That's about one half percent of all DS games. Kotaku has some theories on this, but I'm not really one to analyze the market or audiences - I'm one to play the dang games.

The following is going to be a 10 minute blitz of each of the six released M-rated games for the Nintendo DS, starting with the first released, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, and finishing up with the recent Grand Theft Auto. I already had a friend review the first hour of Chinatown Wars, but a little overlap is okay. I'll say a few things about each game, play it for ten minutes, and then wrap each up with a few more notes about gameplay. I'll also decide if the first 10 minutes are worthy of the M-rating or not. Let's get this started.

This is also a taste of the new first hour review format. Less about numerical scores, more about what I liked and what I didn't. The reviews will be a bit more fleshed out next week as I have more room to roam. Enjoy.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

Full Review

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney CoverApollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the latest Ace Attorney game for the Nintendo DS. It's the fourth game in the series and the first to star our new hero, Apollo Justice. This has been a sensitive point for fans as the series has focused on Phoenix Wright for three games, and all of a sudden Capcom decides to go in a different direction. Well, if you've skipped Apollo Justice because of this, you will soon find out you have a game you must play.

I previously reviewed the third Ace Attorney game, Trials and Tribulations, here last year. Check it out if you want to see where the series left off and a basic introduction to the gameplay featured in the games. I'm actually really excited for the next game in the series... well, a new series technically. Perfect Prosecutor: Miles Edgeworth is getting released in Japan in a few months. Courtroom drama and comedy from the other side of the room!

Let's get on with my review of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, all scores are out of 10.

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