When I was a wee child, I absolutely adored puzzles. Puzzles of any kind – jigsaws, magic squares, cryptograms, acrostics, crosswords, you name it. Even something as inane and simple as the “Jumble” feature on the comics page was latched onto and savoured. Puzzles were my pals – much more enjoyable to spend any sort of time with than the cretinous little jerks that I was forced to endure as my classmates or (dripping sarcasm coming) “peers” (dripping sarcasm ends).
Let me tell you, finding out that school was more “being cooped up in a room full of semi-literate morons” and less “reading cool books” was a huge and life-changing shock for an impressionable 5-year old.
Ahem. Anyway, I loved all puzzles, but the absolute best puzzles were the logic and perception kind. I would search for these everywhere – books, magazines, even the occasional Reader’s Digest – and delight over every manipulation and solution. If there were 12 visually identical weights and a scale that you could only use 3 times, I was there, baby. All of which – and in a rather roundabout way – brings us to the most insanely awesome videogame release of the last 2 years, Professor Layton and the Curious Village.
This is a game that you must buy if you have a Nintendo DS, and if you don’t have a Nintendo DS you should go out right now and buy one. Period. And if you know someone who doesn’t own a Nintendo DS you should go out and buy one for them and then give them a copy of this game to prove what an awesome friend you are. Really.
The game is a joy on virtually every level. The art direction and animation is impeccable, with a classic European feel (think Belle and Sebastian or Tintin) that is wonderfully refreshing in a world saturated by cheap anime. The sound and voice acting is impeccable, the writing is delightful, and the presentation classic and clean.
All of which, of course, pales in comparison to the puzzles. Everywhere you go, everywhere you turn, some door or entrance or clue is blocked by a puzzle, which you must solve to unlock the next step in the adventure. Hundreds of puzzles, lurking around every corner and waiting to delight and reward you. I have taken the liberty of reproducing one of the first puzzles in the game here – just a warm-up, found in the early minutes of the game to get your brain lubricated and working. It is a variation on a classic, and still a fun little diversion:
As shown in the diagram below, you have exactly one quarter of a circle. Within this circle is the rectangle ABCD, which touches the edge of the circle at D. Point B is located at the exact centre of the circle, and all of the angles of the rectangle are 90 degrees. How long is the diagonal line AC?
See? Awesome. Imagine an adventure game that lets you poke around and explore a world that is packed with these little gems – every one demanding that you produce the solution before you can move on to the next. And, via the built-in WiFi functions of the DS, new puzzles to download from the Nintendo mothership each and every week.
I’m not religious, but if I was – and by extension believed in some sort of “heaven” concept – it would be like living in this game forever.