Sunday, 27 November 2011

Professor Layton 4 VS. Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights: PART TWO

Welcome to the second part of our 'Versus' battle between the latest Professor Layton game - Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter, which was released for the Nintendo DS/DSi console(s), and the brand new Puzzler, Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights, which was developed by Konami exclusively for the 3DS.

In Part One, we examined Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter. This time we take a look at Doctor Lautrec and his assistant, Sophie, as they embark on their first-ever puzzle adventure.

We have split the game down into sections and will examine Plot, Gameplay, Characters, and Graphics in order to see which of the two handheld games is also the best new puzzle game on the market to date...



The game has a very strong back-story, involving "Living Treasure", or Treasure Animatus as it is commonly referred to in the game. Doctor Lautrec hunts this type of treasure and wants to tame the so-called Guardian Spirits which live within such treasure. Only the Doctor's trusty assistant, Sophie can sense and see Guardian Spirits, and therefore it is her job to tell the Doctor where to find the Treasure Animatus.

Unlike the games in the Professor Layton series, this game takes place in real 19th-Century France and therefore contains many real-life landmarks and historical events, which does add a charming touch of realism to the overall game.

 The main storyline also involves a hunt for some treasure from the House of Bourbon and often contains historical facts about 19th-century Paris etc, which adds a subtle yet interesting educational aspect to the game as well.


Although this game has been somewhat criticised for 'copying' the characters and graphic-style of the Professor Layton series, the gameplay is remarkably different from its puzzle counterpart.

For example, whereas Professor Layton is more concerned with traditional logic puzzles such as shape, number or letter codes and riddles, etc, Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights contains more accessible, familiar logic puzzles such as Spot-the-Difference, Crosswords, Sudoku and Minesweeper types of puzzles, which are still difficult, but perhaps less demanding than those in Professor Layton, meaning that the game seems to move smoothly onwards without too much frustration over puzzles that one cannot solve.


The game also includes four distinct forms of mini-game, which are Hidden EntrancesQuests, Taming of the Treasure Animatus and Escaping the Catacombs. With the exception of finding the Hidden Entrances to various catacombs (by locating a hidden Fleur de-lis symbol on the building), three of these mini-games are often played together.

For example, in Quests, Doctor Lautrec and Sophie must search for various Treasure Animatus around Paris. They must also Escape the Catacombs of each location by avoiding detection by the various guards on duty, and, they must also 'tame' any Treasure Animatus that they find.

The taming of the Treasure Animatus is the most challenging of the three mini-games. The goal is to reduce the Life Points down to a score below 100, so that it transforms into a relic which can later be used to tame other Guardian Spirits in the game. 

In order to tame a Guardian Spirit, players must place gemstones (collected throughout the game) and other relics containing Treasure Animatus Guardians upon a stone plinth in such a way that their attack power outnumbers the Guardian Spirit that players are trying to tame.

However, it is important to not completely reduce the Guardian's Life Points to zero, otherwise the Spirit will die and cannot be used in the final battle against a very powerful Guardian Spirit.


This game has a lot of different, humorous and quirky characters, who all have important roles to play in the unfolding storyline.


Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights uses many different types of animation, including 2D cartoon-style graphics and 3D block animation amongst others. All of the graphics are presented in full 3D, which adds greater depth perception to the various locations included in the game map.


Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights will certainly appeal to fans of the Professor Layton games, but is also very interesting and challenging in its own right. We are sure this will be very popular at Christmas. Overall rating: 9/10.


Whether you opt for Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter or Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights this Christmas will largely depend on what type of puzzle-adventure you are looking for.

Professor Layton has now got a well-established fan base, and the puzzles tend to stretch the brain in more varied ways than we have seen in Doctor Lautrec, nevertheless, it is sometimes impossible to get the answer to the various riddles contained in the game, which can sometimes lead to frustration as we search for a good Walkthrough that can help us solve our current conundrum. Thus, Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter is likely to appeal to die-hard puzzle fanatics more than the brand new Konami offering.

In addition, the bonuses and mini games contained within Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter increase the game's replay value by around 1000%, which we cannot say about Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights, whose mini-games are only structured around the main storyline.

Nevertheless, Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights has a slightly more complex storyline to it than that contained in Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter, which might appeal more to a slightly more adult audience than Professor Layton, but the game contains familiar 'newspaper' style puzzles which makes it the perfect starter game for gamers who wish to try their first puzzle-adventure game.

To tell you the truth though, we here at Mini Gamers found good and bad points within both games, but still thoroughly enjoyed both games. If you are still undecided as to which game to spend your money on,  maybe the truly logical thing is to save up your cash and purchase BOTH titles as soon as you can. See, every puzzle [really does] has an answer...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Professor Layton 4 VS. Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights: PART ONE


If you are a puzzle-gamer but only have either a DS or 3DS console, then you should count yourself lucky that you have been spared the difficult decision of which brand new top puzzler to buy.

If, however, you happen to own both types of console (and are not currently swimming in cash), you might find yourself having to choose between Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call, and the new puzzler from Konami, called Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights, which both became available to buy this weekend...

Never fear though, as Mini Gamers has spent the last few days unravelling various mysteries and trying to discover what both games truly have to offer gaming fans.

Although the two games are considered to be quite similar to each other, the gameplay in each game is quite different. Therefore, we have reviewed the plots, gameplay, characters and graphics offered by each game in order to make it easier for other gamers to make their choice.

However, as both games are pretty action-packed, we have been forced to split this particular 'Versus' battle into two separate posts. Let us start with the newest game in the popular Professor Layton series.

If you would rather skip ahead and see what we think of the new Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights 3DS game, or if you would like to know our final verdict, please CLICK HERE.



As you may already know, the fourth Professor Layton game is actually a prequel to the other three games (making it chronologically the first game in the series) and it tells the story of how the Professor actually met his young apprentice, Luke Triton.

Professor Layton and his new female assistant, Miss Emmy Altava, are summoned to the fictional town of Misshallery, by his good friend Clark Triton, to stop a mysterious Spectre that seems intent on wreaking havoc throughout the town.

The Professor soon learns that Clark's young son Luke, (also known as 'The Oracle' in this game,)  has the ability to sense the Spectre's attacks before they occur, and Professor Layton, Emmy and Luke team-up to try and save the town by solving a number of difficult mysteries and puzzles - but will they succeed?


The gameplay in Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call/Last Specter follows the same format as featured in the previous Professor Layton games, which means many different types of logic puzzles including Peg Solitare puzzles, sliding puzzles, calculation, code-breaking and  many other types of  traditional logic puzzles that you can think of.

Luckily, both the Hint Coins and the Super Hint functions make a return in this game, otherwise  we doubt Mini Gamers would have got any further than the first chapter.

Nevertheless, the game also introduces a new way of finding Hint Coins and unlocking special Mouse Badge rewards, which involves something to do with scampering mice, but we are keeping schtum about exactly what this entails! Well, we don't want to ruin it for the rest of you now, do we?

As before, solving puzzles will earn you Picarats, which can be used to unlock several new bonuses at the end of the game. Each puzzle has a different number of Picarats attached to it, and the amount of Picarats that you earn also increases with the supposed difficulty of the puzzle that you must solve.


As with the other Professor Layton titles, this game has its own set of mini-games to complete. In this game, the three main mini-games are:

TOY TRAIN - (This is similar to the 'Car' mini-game in Professor Layton and the Lost Future). The Toy Train game is played by laying a railroad track down on the game board. The goal of this specific mini-game  is to get the toy train to pass through every train station on its way to the end destination.

To make things harder, the train must sometimes be timed correctly in order to avoid cars and/or other trains. The toy train also requires 'fuel' to move, which then limits the amount of track that can be placed by a player unless more fuel is collected before the track ends.
FISH TANK - Train the pet fish so that it can collect all the coins in the bottom of its tank. Place air bubbles at correct intervals to change the fish's direction so that it can intercept all of the required coins.

PUPPET THEATRE - complete the script of an on-going theatre play so that the story makes sense by choosing words to form specific sentences. If the chosen word is incorrect, the 'Play' ends and the player must try again. Once all the words are chosen correctly, the Play will end with an epilogue and an applauding audience.

MOUSE ALLEY - This is a bonus mini-game, which can only be unlocked once the player has collected a sufficient amount of Mouse Badges. The goal of this game is simple - Hit as many mice as possible within the time-limit, but avoid hitting Luke's pet mouse, Toppy.


This game introduces a lot of new fun and quirky characters, but still manages to keep the relationship between the characters in this game and those in past games, especially through Professor Layton and Emmy Altava's mysterious relationship which is resolved at the end of the game.


The quaint cartoon-style graphics return in this game. There are also more voice-acting and cutscenes in this game, which really help to move the story along.


Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call is a fantastic game for people of all ages. The varied logic puzzles make it really interesting. The storyline is very engaging and well-thought out. A perfect Christmas present for puzzle fans. Overall rating: 10/10.

See Also :

THE SECOND PART OF THIS 'VERSUS' BATTLE: Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Doctor Lautrec Gets Playable Browser Demo Before Its November/December Release Date

Konami, the company responsible for creating the intriguing and long-awaited 3DS puzzle-adventure game Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights, have recently published a brand new website complete with a playable demo so that 3DS users can 'try before they buy'.

The game is still set for a November release date in the UK, but it has since been confirmed that the US version of the game has now been given a 13th of December 2011 release date, which replaces its earlier November one.

Thus, regardless of its release date the game should be out in the shops some time before Christmas 2011, and the new website and demo will no doubt help to tax gamers minds until the actual game hits the shelves... To view the demo for yourself, please CLICK HERE.

Mini Gamers was quite impressed by the cutscenes and puzzles on offer throughout the demo, which have all been adapted from portions of the actual game.

Although the game has been criticised in some gaming circles as resembling the Professor Layton characters and puzzles, we have to say that the puzzles which we have so far seen on the demo include everything from standard logic puzzles like Spot-the-difference and Sodoku, to more traditional logic tests to do with codes, numbers and shapes, all of which were incredibly challenging and brilliantly woven into the storyline. So, maybe this game will turn out to be more than a Layton-esque rip-off after all? Well, judging by what we've seen so far, we definitely think so! 

Remember to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for a full review after the game is released in the UK.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

PS Vita Gets European Launch Line-Up

Sony have released the official list of PS Vita titles that gamers can expect to see at launch when the new console gets its European debut on the 22nd of February 2012.

Amongst the latest sequels of some of the core Sony franchises such as Everybody's Golf,
Uncharted: Golden Abyss and ModNation Racers: Road Trip, to name but a few, there are also a couple of brand new games on the list which seem worth getting excited about.

These include Escape Plan, a puzzle-platformer in which two odd-looking characters called Lil and Laarg (or little and large - get it?) must escape from a factory in a monochrome world where they are about to be pulped into mush. The game has an air of the macabre about it but definitely has a very unique and intriguing back-story as well as refreshing and somewhat humorous gameplay.

The other new title is simply called Unit 13, and is a Special Ops type game in which players can choose one of six operatives who are then expected to complete thirty-six gruelling action-based missions in nine different locations.

As both games have been constructed from scratch to take advantage of all the console's best features including the dual analog sticks, they promise to be a very good indication of the PS Vita's capabilities and the kind of new games we could be likely to see on the console in the near future.

Does this mean that the European launch of the PS Vita will be a success? It is impossible to tell whether Sony will have definite success with the new console. The PS Vita has already been heavily criticised for its expensive memory card prices and its new NVG game cards system, which have now replaced the UMD system used on older PSP handheld consoles.

Nevertheless, the list of launch game titles definitely seems promising enough at the moment. The full list of first-party launch titles can be seen by CLICKING HERE.

Remember to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for more details about the launch over the next few months. For more details on the PS Vita's apparent pros and cons, please CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Game of the Week: Super Mario 3D Land [3DS]

The Super Mario Bros franchise has FINALLY been given its first outing on the Nintendo 3DS. The game mixes 2D side-scrolling action, which is traditionally associated with Platformers, with new autostereoscopic 3D environments.

Although the 3D effects don't particularly aide the overall plot, the use of the 3DS gyroscope and the increased depth perception does mean that there is more of the environment to explore, and players may just find some Star Coins, (or Star Medals as they are now known,) hidden in some very unlikely places. There are three Star Medals to collect per level.

The way that the game switches with ease from 2D to 3D and vice versa really helps to keep players on their toes and is a truly refreshing way to play.

Power-ups also help to keep the game interesting. This time however, most of the minor traditional power-ups have been dropped, and only a few essential power-ups remain. The main power-ups in Super Mario 3D Land are as follows:

Super Leaf/Tanooki Suit - Turns Mario into a Tanuki type creature (Tanooki) and grants him the ability to float, fly and administer special spinning kicks etc.

The Boomerang Suit -  Gives Mario the ability to throw Boomerangs at his enemies and it can also be used to pick up Coins, Star Medals or other Power-Ups.

? Box Helmet - This item will only be found in the latter levels of the game. Although it will be disguised as an ordinary Question (?) Block, it will attach itself to Mario's body when hit and it will earn players some extra coins as Mario walks around the environments wearing it.

Poison Mushroom - This item can only be gained once you have completed the regular game and have accessed the Special Worlds portion of the game. This item will result in Mario characters losing a life if they touch it, so it is best avoided, but this mushroom can be destroyed by a fireball.

 This is a really fun game to play and can be quite challenging at times. One slight disappointment was that there are only two types of Boss fights: Aerial Fights against Boom Boom or Castle-based attacks against Bowser. Both of which are easy to overcome after a little bit of practise.

This brings us to the final criticism of Super Mario 3D Land, which is that the overall game seemed incredibly short and it would definitely not take Mario veterans longer than a day or two at most to complete the game's standard levels.

Nevertheless, it is a superb game which really does appear to have been made for use with 3D. In fact, had this game been released earlier, it would have probably single-handedly raised 3DS sales by about two-thirds. Truly a game worth owning. Overall Rating: 10/10.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Game of the Week: Zoo Resort 3D

The first set of cute 3DS games has arrived, however, despite Zoo Resort 3D being obviously aimed at a younger gaming audience, Mini Gamers was pleasantly surprised by what we found.

The aim of Zoo Resort 3D is to stock and maintain a Zoo which has been left to you by your (in-game) late grandfather. You must unlock different breeds of animals, from simple birds, to large land-and-sea predators, and the majority of the game is centred around the players abilities to feed and display the animals to growing crowds of visitors.

The more you feed and interact with the animals in your care, the more visitors you attract and the more money you gain, which will allow you to develop your zoo and unlock more animals.

The first thing you gain access to after your initial animals have been placed in the zoo, is the 'Animal Dispenser'. This allows you to randomly create animals in exchange for some coins. The more popular your zoo becomes, the more types of Animal Dispensers you can use. Nevertheless, the latter dispensers are very expensive and can cost up to 8000 coins a time to use.

In order to gain access to the various unlockable items that the game has to offer, you must first bond with the animals through feeding them and taking a selection of top quality photographs or video for your apparent zoo blog, and trying to gain the maximum popularity for each animal group in turn.

If you have managed to gain the maximum bond with your animals, fulfilled the total number of appearances to members of the public, and also happen to have the correct number of each animal in their individual enclosures, (this info can be found on the information card displayed on the animal selection screen), you will be treated to a stunning animated 3D cutscene showing the animals in their daily life at the zoo. These visuals are truly breathtaking most of the time and really help to bring each animal to life. The cutscene can then be replayed at any time.

As the game is primarily aimed at younger gamers, it is very easy to pick up and play, with simple tasks that will help the zoo to run smoothly.

Nevertheless, the game will sometimes throw up random challenges such as 'displayed animals will become sick today', which means that you won't be able to display those animals for a few in-game days, or 'elephants at another zoo have become more popular', in which case you must try to raise the popularity of your own elephants etc.

These challenges help to lower the visitor count and therefore alter the amount of money that you earn on that day and the subsequent day, making your progress through the game slightly slower.

However, if you wish to miss the challenge altogether you can simply select the End The Day/Journal tab and you will recieve a summary of how much you earned the previous day and your progress will be saved. Please note, however, that your subsequent earnings will decrease for each day that you choose to miss.

If you are successful in making your zoo popular, you will also earn the right to expand your territory, which will open up more land and new animals for you to care for. You will also gain access to certain Special Commands, which can then be purchased in order to increase the popularity of the zoo.

Once you have unlocked over 75 different species of animal and gained access to the last of the Animal Dispensers, the main story of the game comes to an end and you are free to add to your zoo as you see fit. You will also uncover the secret of the mysterious gentleman you meet at the beginning of the game.

In conclusion, Zoo Resort 3D is not as lame as it might first appear. The 3D graphics are amazing and players can survey the whole of the animal enclosure by simply using the circle pad. All the environment and animals are extremely lifelike.

Nevertheless, this game is aimed more at younger gamers between the ages of eight and fourteen, and is therefore quite simplistic in its actual gameplay, so it is unlikely to keep adult gamers entertained for hours.

However, for a sweet and uncomplicated little game that you can play for a spare five or ten minutes whilst on the train, this title does very nicely, and we can see this one being a winner with the kids at Christmas. Overall rating: 8/10

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 - What Can We Expect?

The final installment of Lego Harry Potter (Years 5-7) is about to land onto the PSP and Nintendo DS/DSi and 3DS consoles. What can we expect from the game, and will Harry's 3DS debut be as popular as the other Lego titles before him?

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 promises to be an family-fun, action-packed game from start to finish. Players can play through a total of twenty-four different events spread across the remaining titles of the Harry Potter books - Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and of course, The Deathly Hallows.

The game will also seek to build upon the various spells and incantations learnt in Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4  and will teach players to master more advanced magic including the Unforgivable Curses. in the fight against the evil Lord Voldermort and his army of Death Eaters.

The game will also introduce new locations including Godric's Hollow, The Ministry of Magic and Grimmauld Place, amongst others.

Although the gameplay varies very little between the various platforms, the 3DS version of Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 has the advantage of greater depth and stunning visuals to add to the adventure, and Mini Gamers sees no reason why this game shouldn't be as brilliant as the previous 3DS Lego titles - Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Official UK Trailer
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is set to launch in the UK on Friday the 18th of November 2011. Look out for the full review of the game shortly afterwards.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Why Making Gaming Accessible To Disabled Can Really Have a "Special Effect"...

 As most of you would agree, Gaming can be a really enjoyable pastime, but for people with severe physical disabilities - especially children and teenagers - gaming can also provide a window to social interactions with peers, an engaging activity that can aid motor and balance skills, and a sense of achievement that they may not be able to attain in other areas of their lives.

According to current figures by the website Accessibility, approximately 7% of the population suffers from a severe physical disability such as full or partial paralysis of the limbs and body, and another 5% from a mild physical handicap, including (amongst others) Repetitive Strain Injuries, which restrict the mobility of the arms or wrists and make movement painful.

Nevertheless, for gamers who have physical disability, gaming can often come with extra challenges such as difficult controllers, or games which need fast reactions or good balance and physicality in order for players to win.

Nintendo's Wii console has been both praised and criticised for its benefits and disadvantages to the disabled gamer. On the plus side, the Wii titles like Wii Sports emphasise things like good posture, balance and movement, which can be beneficial to people with brain injuries or impairments such as Cerebral Palsy.

Nevertheless, the overall high degree of physicality, and fast reactions needed for many Wii games has also been proven to be isolating to disabled players, especially when playing against able-bodied competitors.  A recent letter to the Kotaku website from a Muscular Dystrophy sufferer highlighted the problems that can be faced by gamers with a limited range of motion, including the amount of physicality required to move the Wii-mote successfully.

Microsoft's Xbox Kinect has similarly been both praised and criticised for its controller-less style of gaming, which on the one hand removes the barrier of difficult controllers for people with limited hand or finger movements, but on the other, seems incapable of registering movement from players who are in a stationary position in wheelchairs because of the need to track movement with the sensor in many of the games.

However, there are a few specialist companies out there who are looking to improve life for disabled video gaming fans, through specially adapted controllers, motion-tracking headsets and one-switch/one-handed controllers and remotes.

One company in particular who are endeavoured to making gaming a pastime that can be accessible to everybody is Special Effect, who provide special equipment to youngsters so that they can enjoy gaming just as much as their able-bodied counterparts.

Special Effect founder, Dr. Mick Donegan, claims that gaming can be an important part of the recovery and treatment process for youngsters with disabilities. He says: "If a child can't play we should be as worried as if they can't sleep or eat." [sourced from:]

However, just because there are companies out there who are trying to aide disabled gamers does not negate the responsibility of games' companies themselves to create software and hardware which can be truly universal, and which can come with adaptable options, so that it can be used by people regardless of their abilities or limitations, only then will gaming be considered to be a truly equal entertainment platform.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

3DS Games Are Set To Get Cute This November...

It has long been suggested that the reason why the Nintendo DS range of handheld console was so popular in the years after its release was its selection of easy-to-play, family-centred titles, which were typically aimed at the younger gamer and female audiences.

This could explain why Nintendo have chosen to release several casual gaming titles which seem set to capitalise on the 'cute' factor in the run up to Christmas 2011 Amongst those on the cute list for release throughout the coming month are:

Coral Pink 3DS console (release date: 18th November 2011).

The new console will reportedly be bundled with the Nintendogs + Cats 3DS game for that extra 'Awwwww' factor. The pink console will also be joined by an Ice White 3DS console on the 2nd of December 2011.

Puppies World 3D (release date: 11th November 2011).

In an obvious attempt to build on the success of Nintendogs + Cats, Ubisoft plan to release their first pet simulation for the 3DS, entitled Puppies World 3D. As you might expect, the game has several little dog-shaped companions for players to play and interact with.

Alongside the usual feed, bathe, groom, train and play routine associated with this type of game however, does come one or two surprises, including the ability to snap a 3D photo of any room in your actual house and turn it into a virtual playroom for your puppies, which does sound rather intriguing.

Zoo Resort 3D (release date: 11th November 2011).

Ubisoft have also chosen to release Zoo Resort 3D (AKA Animal Resort). a kind of Zoo Tycoon for the 3DS. The aim is to set up and manage your own zoo full of exotic wild animals, including tigers, elephants and polar bears.

This game may not sound too impressive at first, but one look at a 2D version of the trailer for this game and we were really excited. A perfect gift for budding zoologists this Christmas.

Cooking Mama 4 (3DS) (release date: 11th November 2011).

Yes, Mama is back, and this time she is cooking up a storm in an entirely new dimension! With brand new recipes to try out all displayed in full autostereoscopic 3D, this seems like the perfect game to turn kids into the next generation of super-cooks.

So, with all this extra cuteness, will hardcore 3DS fans be ignored this month? The answer is no, there are some great November titles for hardcore gamers too, including the release of the long-awaited Super Mario 3D Land.

However, the fact that the 3DS is finally starting to branch out into other areas of the gaming market, and target different audiences, is a good sign, which could actually enhance the 3DS' popularity in the long run. 

Stay tuned to the Mini Gamers blogsite for more news and reviews of 3DS titles this November.