Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box Hands-On

We tag along with the professor and his apprentice to solve the mystery behind the Elysian box.

Instead of being isolated in the quaint little village of St. Mystere, Professor Layton and his young apprentice Luke are now riding with style, across a fictional European landscape on a luxurious train known as the Molentary Express. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box--known as Professor Layton and Pandora's Box in some territories--continues the trend of blending a captivating story with clever logic puzzles that result in an engaging experience for anyone who's looking to do some critical thinking. We had the opportunity to play the second entry into this first trilogy and were impressed and delighted to go on a journey with the gentlemanly professor.

Solve devious puzzles as you explore the luxurious Molentary Express.

The story will take you to several locations, the first of which is the home of Professor Layton's mentor, Dr. Schrader. The doctor had come across the mysterious Elysian box, which was said to kill anyone who dared open it. Just to be safe, Dr. Schrader wrote Professor Layton a letter before attempting to unravel the box's secrets. As soon as the professor received the letter, his intuition told him that something had gone horribly wrong. Professor Layton and Luke immediately head to the doctor's home, only to find him dead, having left behind a ticket for the Molentary Express. With the ticket as their only clue, the Professor and Luke begin their journey aboard the beautiful train, searching for information regarding the Elysian box.

If you've played the first game, everything should come naturally here. As you begin your adventure, the game walks you through the controls and does a good job of telling you where to go next. You don't always have to solve all the puzzles to progress the story, and puzzles that you miss will end up in Granny's shack, so you can revisit them at any time. You use the touch screen to move from screen to screen, poking around to find hint coins and hidden puzzles. It's like a hidden-object game at times, but generally, if you interact with the locals, you'll find what you need to move forward.

The puzzles that we encountered (the first 25 or so) were relatively straightforward and tied into the story as they did in the last game. Professor Layton and Luke will come across something new, and then suddenly, they'll be reminded of a puzzle that they heard about previously. What's different is that several minigames have been added and can be accessed via Professor Layton's bottomless trunk. One game involves encouraging your pet hamster to exercise by placing enticing items on a chessboard to lure it into walking across as many spaces as possible. You'll collect a variety of items throughout the game, and each will have its own special property so that you can place the item strategically on the board to maximize the hamster's routine. For example, a tree stump will draw its attention if it's standing within three spaces of it, but if an apple is nearby, it will automatically go for the apple instead. As you investigate your surroundings, you'll also pick up camera equipment that needs to be carefully placed in Professor Layton's trunk. There's a tea brewing minigame in which you place three random ingredients in a teapot to come up with new recipes. These minigames seem to act as an alternative to managing the collectible items that you find in the game. Something will unlock once you've discovered everything, so there's plenty of incentive to be thorough.

There are a variety of minigames to keep your brain occupied.

This series distinguishes itself by having an intriguing mystery to solve while peppering you with engaging puzzles along the way. The game retains the rustic charm of the original, with well-produced cutscenes and mood-setting music to tell the story. Professor Layton's deeper tone balances out Luke's enthusiastic and sometimes shrill voice, which brings the two characters to life on the Nintendo DS. It's going to feel like more of the same, but because the original was so good, you'll likely be drawn into Professor Layton's world once again to tackle the 150-plus puzzles.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box will be released on August 24 in North America. The European version will be known as Professor Layton and Pandora's Box and is set to be released on September 25.

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Discussion

69 comments
Mysterywriter
Mysterywriter

I can't even begin to tell you how stupid the first game made me feel. BUT... That's great!!! I am looking forward to dusting off my dunce cap once again!

deutz_miles
deutz_miles

I can't wait for this game!!! I hope I have free time so that I can pre-order it. It's really hard to find original games in our place.

Keving7
Keving7

im getting this the day it comes out. i never thought i'd love a puzzle game so much!

cosita46
cosita46

I played the first Professor Layton and it was Awesome!! So I am buying this game, can't wait!!

Night-kitsune
Night-kitsune

cant wait,love the charm,puzzles and old european feel

lokean_bent
lokean_bent

Pre-Order for sure. I loved the first one. It's refreshing to play such a non-stressful, intelligent game. Bring on the slidey puzzles!

auto_fan
auto_fan

THE lost game of World!!!!!!!!!!!!

C0starulz
C0starulz

yeah more Layton in English!!

Nosnitsttam
Nosnitsttam

woot for more layton! but it really sucks that we've had to wait so long for just the sequel when there's, what, 3 more games in japan!? stop localizing the dialogue already! just translate the text and give us the other games.

CthulhuFhtagn0
CthulhuFhtagn0

Aside from new puzzles to download once you've beaten it, I'm not sure what replay value there is to this game. I LOVED the first one and I'll definitely play this, but do I want to shell out $30+ to run through a relatively quick game? Probably not.

marioman134
marioman134

Okay, thanks, after really looking at that last paragraph, I felt pretty stupid, I somehow missed everything but the last line, :P.

ianwattb
ianwattb

Yeah August 24th is the American release date and September 25th is the UK date.

marioman134
marioman134

I've seen two release dates on this site alone. August 24 and September 25. Anyone know which one is right?

Bad-Chad
Bad-Chad

Level 5 eh? They're pretty good. Layton is so full of charm with its sepia tones, kind of an old world France kind of vibe. The music box tunes can get a little grating but it sure is unique. I had to turn off the volume because the constant loop of chimes was really distracting. Good music in small doses though. What else have these guys made?

CaHeinecke
CaHeinecke

Layton is very magic *-* At the same time it's charming, classic, innovative and exciting! I hope the third game come to occident soon, CAN'T WAIT x__x. I heard Professor Layton's Series Official Soundtrack and it's simply amazing! *0*

MaskedLink
MaskedLink

I didn't play the first one, but I'll consider this. I wonder what the heck the ending could be, you know? ^_^ Probably... a twist!!!

lanmanna
lanmanna

People who don't like this game fail. Go back to playing your FPSs. All others who like Professor Layton, yay! xD I can't wait.

dth_dlr
dth_dlr

the first one is one of my favourite games so im really looking forward to this

JDevil99
JDevil99

Curious Village is in my top ten favorite DS games of all time, easily. It was a day one purchase for me when it released, and a game that I told everyone about and drilled them until they played it. I'm just happy that over time, it snowballed into a mega popular title over here. Solidifying future releases to come stateside.

Bluegreen17
Bluegreen17

Man, I really loved the first Professor Layton game, so I'm really looking forward to this one! :D

Houtakiboy
Houtakiboy

I cant wait for this. Im currently playing The Curious Village. Arguably the best game on the DS

bad_fur_day
bad_fur_day

I LOVE THIS SERIES! WOO My favourite games on the DS. I am going to pre-order this. Release dated. :D :Has cup of tea with Layton:

luckyduke24
luckyduke24

The first one was def a suprise. Thought it was going to be a run of the mill puzzler, I was stoked when I actually started playing it.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Not my sort of game but my wife can't wait (and will need my help for abotu 10% of the puzzles LOL)

lukas1051
lukas1051

I don't know if I'll get this. I got the first one, it was good, but not really any replay value, I could remember the answers to all the puzzles. I don't know if it's worth the money.

JesusFreak1990
JesusFreak1990

@Yoweeh Nice! I would pre-order it, but I already reserved a copy of Scribblenauts, and I still want to get Dissidia after I get that, so it'll be a long while before I can afford it. :(

benleslie5
benleslie5

Looking foward to playing the Diabolical Box.

rebound2
rebound2

Loved the first. Been waiting since last Feb for this and will import it to UK as soon as it's released in UK!

tremor33
tremor33

This will be a first day purchase fa sho

pjrulez312
pjrulez312

this game is gonna be awesomeeeee! i cant wait especially since the last game was amazing

kunaheha
kunaheha

Gotta pre-order! I am waiting forever for this game! o.o

Yoweeh
Yoweeh

I already pre-ordered it! Layton for the win!

Licence2Thrill
Licence2Thrill

Oh wow it sounds even better than the first one. The only problem is that it'll take longer to come out in Europe but I don't mind cause it's out on my birthday! It'll be going on my wishlist.

i_PWN_fanboys
i_PWN_fanboys

Sounds cool but i might not ever get to play it because my ds broke.

playstation_dad
playstation_dad

a trilogy, well thats my gf occupied while i use up the tv for the ps3. Fantastic :)

kittenmanger
kittenmanger

damn why august 24th why not now i cant wait that long for this game

katiechace
katiechace

Yes finally, this is going to be so cool! I loved the first one! I hope the third one comes out soon too!

Antherian_being
Antherian_being

Wow a trilogy... didnt know that- cannot wait 4 this original was SOOO good

Null7
Null7

I'm getting this! xD

DeadlySpartanII
DeadlySpartanII

Loved this game to bits :P Wish the puzzle was more fun then annoying xD Cant wait :P

gameking5000
gameking5000

Somtimes these puzzles are too hard but the story is great

Bear_in_Action
Bear_in_Action

It was a pain hoping and waiting for the sequel to come, now it's finally here. I'm so getting it the first day. (I'm pretty sure it's more or less the same, but I heard that the story and graphics will not disappoint) @ Havic_Davis, it is a "puzzle" game, please get that into your system before you embarrass yourself.

snoopy248
snoopy248

@ Havic_Davis This is one of the best puzzle games that I've played on the DS. I have no idea what you're talking about.