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Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask Playtest

Layton and Luke's latest adventure arrives opposite the 3DS in February.

Layton and Luke make their 3DS debut at launch.

Level-5's Nintendo World demo Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask offered a sampling of what's new as the series makes the transition to the 3DS for its fifth entry.

The demo kicked off with an introduction anime movie showing a carnival scene. Expectedly, this movie is in 3D. As with all 3DS pre-rendered footage, the system's 3D Volume control can be used only to toggle the 3D effect between on and off.

Following the intro, we see Professor Layton and sidekick Luke arriving in the town of Montedoll. There are some big changes right from the start. The characters are shown as 3D models rather than the 2D drawings of past titles. There's also an overhead map on the bottom screen, which you tap to make Layton and Luke move between points of interest.

To investigate areas of interest in the backdrops on the top screen, you make use of a new investigation tool. It works like notebook-like mouse pad that covers the 3DS's entire bottom screen. As you slide the stylus around on the bottom screen, you move a pair of goggles on the top screen. When you see a point of interest, you tap the spot. This actually ends up working just as well as directly pointing.

Animated Layton (left) and in-game 3D model Layton (right).
Dialogue scenes (left) have a 3D layering effect. The game shows a map on the bottom screen (right).

The main part of the demo was two puzzles that were given to you by town folk.

The first puzzle took place on a corncob. Two beetles are stuck in grooves formed by removed kernels. They want to be together, but they're separated by a wall of kernels. Your goal is to guide one of the beetles through the grooves until it reaches the other beetle. It's just like a flat maze puzzle, but wrapped around a corncob.

The other puzzle took place on an iceberg populated by six penguins. Included among the penguins is a king penguin, who wants to be moved to the center of the iceberg. The only problem is, if you touch any of the penguins, they automatically move forward until they either hit something else or they fall off the iceberg. You have to position all the penguins so that you can make the king penguin move to the center without falling off the iceberg.

The corn puzzle.

These puzzles don't really do anything of note with 3D, aside from having a bit of visual depth. Miracle Mask's use of 3D, if the demo is anything to go by, is mostly in layering effects, particularly during conversation scenes where the characters, dialogue box, backgrounds and other elements are all on different layers. It remains to be seen if the mini-games will make clever use of 3D.

Even with the new additions, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask felt like a Professor Layton game, which is presumably good since the series has sold so many copies on the DS.

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