Review: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Professor Layton makes his debut on the Nintendo 3DS, although as is typical with the series it has taken some time for the game to make its way overseas, having launched alongside the console itself in Japan last year.  

Fans of the series will be happy to hear that Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask retains the mixture of charm and challenge that has made the series popular in both the East and West.  Level-5 has used the new hardware to give the series a refresh, without feeling like a complete reworking.

Picking up where Last Spectre left off, Miracle Mask sees Layton and Luke visit a town in the middle of the English desert (surely you've heard of it?  Where were you in those Geography lessons?) that seems to mix Las Vegas' glitzy bright lights with Paris' winding streets.  You've been summoned by Angela Ledore as Monte d’Or is being attacked by The Masked Gentleman, a mysterious foe causing trouble for the locals.

The characters are now rendered in 3D at times, although the beautiful 2D art still remains as the game alternates between the two.  The 2D cut-scenes can now be viewed in rather subtle 3D, allowing for a feeling of depth to enhance the cinematic experience.  The introduction of 3D models also allows for the characters to interact in more engaging ways, instead of just standing either side of the screen and talking.

Level-5 has made use of the Nintendo 3DS' technical abilities to provide some new puzzles and mini-games, although fans of the series will spot a few old puzzles that have been rejigged for Miracle Mask.  The puzzles remain challenging and enjoyable, having always been the backbone of the series it is good to see that age hasn't made this aspect weaker.

Professor Layton and the Miracle MaskAs has become customary with the series, the range of puzzles mean that there will be some you enjoy and others you’d that left you utterly confused.  The core mechanic remain the same (you are presented with a puzzle and earn Picarats depending on how well you do) so anyone who has played the previous games can jump straight into the action.  

Nintendo is also offering the chance to download extra puzzles via the Nintendo Network, providing an incentive to keep coming back.  With the promise of 365 downloadable puzzles, gamers should be able to pass the time until the release of Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies, even though it probably won't see European shores until 2014.

Several mini-games allow you to take a break from the puzzles to stack shelves, build a robot and even teach a rabbit how to be an actor.  They’re odd but entertaining and one of our favourite parts of the whole series itself.

Anyone who has played the previous games may be temporarily started, as Level-5 has altered how you explore and interact with the environment.  You now drag a magnifying glass over the touch screen using your stylus, and tap on it to interact with items.  In previous titles you just tapped away, but the new mechanism soon becomes second nature.

Professor Layton and the Miracle MaskThe universe of Professor Layton has always been filled with some distinct characters, and Miracle Mask is much the same.  Professor Layton and Luke are once again joined by Emmy Altava, and while they discover the mysteries behind The Masked Gentleman you’ll come across some very colourful individuals.  At times they seem over-the-top for the sake of style, but it injects life into the series and is one of the underlying charming aspects of the series.

Truth be told, outside of the new visuals, puzzles and control mechanism, Miracle Mask does not introduce anything new that is worth discussing.  This however is not a bad thing.  The Professor Layton series has always provided challenging puzzles wrapped in an entertaining story and it’s one of the few instances where you’d be quite happy to play more of the same.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask offers exactly what fans would expect and want from the series that put Level-5 on the gaming map.  Moving to the Nintendo 3DS has allowed the studio to add new visuals and inject a bit more life into the cut-scenes, without completely removing the distinct art style that is one of the game's strengths.  There are plenty of puzzles to get the cogs in your brain moving, as well as a story that never feels like it is simply getting in the way of the gameplay.  If you have played the previous games there should be no question about it, you’ll love Miracle Mask.  Anyone who has not played the games before can still jump in.  While Miracle Mask delves into the middle of a bigger ongoing story it’s easy enough to catch up and still a lot of fun to play.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Miracle Mask brings the series up-to-date and into 3D; the puzzles are as challenging, the storyline as entertaining and the visuals even better. Well worth buying if you want to challenge yourself.

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability5
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Plenty of puzzles
Charming storyline and characters
Wonderful visuals
Genuinely challenging


Not much has changed since the last game
Re-skinned puzzles

© Copyright 2024 - Independent Nintendo Coverage Back to the Top