VS.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 Entrances, Quests, 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.
FINAL VERDICT: LAUTREC VS. LAYTON:
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...