Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

If puzzles were bricks, Professor Layton would probably have a small bungalow by now. Over the last four years he's solved hundreds of conundrums across four different titles, making him the hardest-working academic since Indiana Jones.

He must be a sucker for punishment though, as he's back once again - and this time he's in three dimensions.

Any concerns we had last year about the Professor losing his charm in Spectre's Call have been well and truly answered. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask breathes new life into the series, with charming visuals and puzzles that manage to feel unique.

Lay it on me

Layton, Luke, and Emmy are in the city of Monte d'Or, where a strange man in a mask is causing havoc and scaring the locals and tourists. Working alongside the dim-witted police, you have to uncover exactly how this masked criminal is performing such death-defying stunts.

It takes a little while to get used to Layton's new 3D looks, with Luke's huge gormless face and Layton's mouth of few animations. In comparison to past Layton games, some of the new animations look odd to say the least.

However, as you learn to stop comparing the visuals with past efforts Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask comes into its own. A simple visual revamp can do wonders for a series.

Each area is now bustling with people, all animated in real-time rather than static images, and the transitions between areas are lovely.

But enough gushing over the visuals - the puzzles are something worth shouting about too.

The puzzles themselves have received a huge revamp, and they feel a lot better for it. Some puzzles have you moving objects around on the bottom screen while the real-time effects happen on the top, and you're able to flick the instructions box onto either screen with ease so as to organise the information however you want it.

It's a miracle

While Spectre's Call felt rather repetitive, with variations of puzzles that we'd already seen in past Layton games, Miracle Mask actually manages to feel extremely fresh.

Sure, a lot of the puzzle types are still repeated, but there are also dozens of brand new types, made possible by the addition of animations. Even after ten hours of play, we were still seeing puzzles that made us sit back in awe.

Not everything new works. There are a lot more action-style mini-games to play, and while a good proportion of these are great fun, others - such as riding a scooter down a road and dodging barrels - aren't so hot.

Don't let that put you off, though. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is the best Layton game since the original Curious Village. Miss it at your peril.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Professor Layton's move to Nintendo 3DS is a hugely successful one, as Miracle Mask is one of the best Layton games to date
Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.