Professor Layton Post-Release Q&A

Have you solved the mystery of the golden apple? Find out where our intrepid Layton is going from here in this interview with Level 5's president.

We'll admit we were among the most skeptical of the Nintendo DS's quirky feature set when Nintendo announced the handheld back in 2004. But with talented development studios such as Level 5 making smart and creative use of the DS's touch screen, microphone, and other capabilities, we needn't have worried. The company recently graced American gamers with Professor Layton and the Curious Village, one of its most charming and unique games yet. To find out more about the development of Layton, and where the franchise will go from here, we went straight to Level 5 president Akihiro Hino.

GameSpot: What spawned the ideas that birthed Professor Layton's story, setting, and gameplay? What was your inspiration for the title?

AH: The whole Layton series was born from a plan we had to turn Professor Akira Tago's series of best-selling books, Head Gymnastics, into a game. The original books were collections of puzzles and brainteasers that were popular with a wide range of readers, from the very young to the very old.

Layton is a huge hit in Japan, with a sequel already on store shelves.

The thing was, right around that time, puzzle/brain games skyrocketed in popularity and a surge of titles in this genre hit the market. It was then that I decided that I wanted to create a game that did things a little differently, and I set out to produce a game that fused both story and puzzle-based game elements to create a genre we call "puzzle adventure." The Professor Layton series was born out of this endeavor.

GS: The game's setting exudes an atmosphere of old-world European charm. What steps did the team take to bring that atmosphere into being?

AH: As the plot is a sort of detective story, I decided to make London, the famous stomping grounds of Sherlock Holmes, the home of Professor Layton. Next we set about researching the kind of beautiful classic architecture and layout of European towns and countryside to create an environment befitting a British gentleman. We also paid special attention to the coloring scheme during production to give the game a sort of familiar, aged atmosphere.

GS: Can you describe the public response to the Layton series in Japan? We know that a sequel has already hit the market overseas. Do you have any plans to bring the rest of the series to American shores?

AH: Professor Layton has been a big hit in Japan, with sales figures for the series totaling some 1,700,000 units. The games are especially popular with young women, but Professor Layton is rapidly growing into a series well loved by people of all ages--we're even starting a manga for children. I hope the series gains a similar standing in the American market and is enjoyed by a wide range of users, from children to adults. With the introduction of the second and third games, I hope Professor Layton will grow into a popular franchise that people will have fun with and remember fondly for a long time. That would make me very happy.

GS: The first Professor Layton game was released in Japan over a year ago. Why did it take such a long time to bring the game to North America? Can we expect the sequel to take as long to make it here?

AH: Professor Layton was our first self-published title (in Japan) and the first title where we really had to think about how to develop the title overseas. I believe these factors had a lot to do with why things took so long. As for the sequel, I can't really say anything definite yet, but I hope everyone is excited about the series, and I would like to get the sequel over to America quickly.

GS: Nintendo has said that the American version of Professor Layton contains a number of new puzzles. What kind of puzzles are these exactly? Also, what sort of puzzles, if any, were removed from the list when making the American version?

Level 5 researched old European towns and architectural styles to nail the game's delightful aesthetic.

AH: Some of the puzzles in the game rely heavily on knowledge of certain cultural practices or use wordplay to guide you towards the answer. As there are several differences in both language and culture between America and Japan, we adjusted the content by removing puzzles that worked only for the Japanese audience and implementing new puzzles in the American version to take their place.

GS: Tell us about the weekly puzzles available through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Will these puzzles be offered for free? How long will this service continue for?

AH: The response to the weekly puzzle download service in Japan has been quite impressive, and a great number of users have been enjoying the feature. As in Japan, the service in America will be offered free of charge. Once in your possession, these puzzles are yours to play as many times as you like, just like the puzzles in the main portion of the game. I hope all the American players out there have lots of fun with these puzzles.

GS: Thanks for your time, Hino-san.

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25 comments
cosita46
cosita46

I Luv this game!!! AWESOME! Everyone should give it a chance. Believe me, you will be SURPRISED!!!!

zoe256
zoe256

UK release soon? Now it's out in Japan, the US and Australia and still no sign for us :(

slgiacob
slgiacob

Professor Layton is fantastic. I had the best time solving all the puzzles. All I can do now is the weekly download puzzle, so....I hope the sequels arrive in the US soon.

CMJR
CMJR

Love Professor Layton. The dude rocks. The sequel can't come too soon...

Starlette
Starlette

I absolutely love this game very hard to put down when your trying to solve a puzzle!

strawberryheart
strawberryheart

I love this game, any squeal would be great! A game that not only has great art, story and is fun, but one where you actually (shutter shutter) learn! Good job Level 5, this is what we gamers are looking for!!!

dr_wadsy
dr_wadsy

A more subtle hint.... If each matchstick is only part of one square, then you need 16 matches to make 4 squares. You have 16 matches. Find a way to have all 4 squares not sharing any sides

Lumenadducere
Lumenadducere

Heh, I was actually playing the game when I saw this. I really hope they bring over the sequels - it's a great game so far.

Phoenix2Raven
Phoenix2Raven

i'm just about finish with the last phoenix wright so i'm gonna be on this very soon. then apollo justice after that, i love that the ds is coming out with these games. they work so well for the ds. hopefully another hotel dusk type is on its way but not too soon i got these and a few more to finish first. lol.

guitarman89
guitarman89

Sounds like an interesting game, but there's so many games I want to buy I may not get around to purchasing this one.

DJ_Lae
DJ_Lae

Great game, though the two downloadable puzzles I've tried were both pretty easy. I hope later ones are more difficult.

zoe256
zoe256

Blah, blah, great it's out in America and Japan...how about releasing it in Europe anytime soon?! :evil:

teknicz
teknicz

I can't solve the first WiFi puzzle either. It's just not making any sense to me!

Ungdi
Ungdi

NOOO! Not done with Phantom Hourglass, my WOW char. is far from 70, I'm stuck in Metroid Prime 3, Zack and Wiki too! I haven't unlocked everyone in melee yet! WAY TOO MANY GAMES TO PLAY!

Timbydude
Timbydude

It's games like this that are bringing the DS back from the "um...I guess it has a good game" stage that existed when the DS launched.

go-cizmek
go-cizmek

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

puablo
puablo

This game rules. And it's good to know a sequel already exists, because without giving too much away, you'll see why when you beat the game (no it's not a cliffhanger).

thattotally
thattotally

I'd definitely buy a sequel and whatever comes after it. Still havent really gone toe-to-toe with the game yet, hopefully it'll hold me over till the sequel's release date. The first wi-fi puzzle makes no sense whatsoever! I'm totally stuck at what to do. Would love it if someone... just gave me a little nudge in the right direction

NCWeber
NCWeber

I love this game! I particularly like the music (kind of Italian or French classical accordion). The characters are a riot. The best thing, I think, is the fact that instead of using a tired formula of progressively more difficult puzzles, they randomize the type and difficulty. It really keeps you on your toes. I've already downloaded the first two WiFi puzzles. The first seems impossible. Still working on that. The second was easy. Can't wait to see what's next.

Tom
Tom

Just got the game today and can't wait to play. The DS's library of unique games continues to grow.

MikeySSH
MikeySSH

just finished phantom hourglass so this one is up next!

jjr10
jjr10

I really need to play this. Right after i eventually get Phantom Hourglass.

Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

This is a fantastic game and the most enjoyable experience I've had on the DS since Hotel Dusk. Keep up the great work, Level 5.