Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

The Professor Performs Like A Gentlemen
by Bryan Vore on Sep 27, 2009 at 03:09 PM
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Level-5
Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed on: DS

Diabolical Box sticks with the first game’s formula almost exactly. While it may not be a fresh concept, more story and puzzles are all the Layton series needs to appease fans.

The plot follows Luke and Layton as they investigate the death of Layton’s mentor, supposedly caused by opening the legendarily dangerous Elysian Box. Clues guide them to hitch a ride on the Molentary Express and travel from town to town. This structure allows for much more environment variety than the single city backdrop of the first game, though the on-train sections become tedious once you’ve gone back and forth a ­few ­times.

Puzzles are tied more closely to the world this time, as you’ll swap train cars to clear the tracks ahead or solve a puzzle on a door to get through the lock. Most of the puzzles are still random challenges from a townsperson, however. You trace the paths of tangled wires, try to imagine 2D drawings in 3D space, and jump a knight around a chessboard. I didn’t come across any challenge as obtuse as the chocolate bar in the first game, but having a knowledge of Level-5’s previous bag of tricks helps in solving this new batch.

Most of the new content is found in the collectibles and minigames. You collect toys to exercise a fat hamster so he can find hidden hint coins. Grabbing camera pieces will eventually unlock a picture matching game, and your tea set will get a workout trying to make the perfect blend for the townspeople you come across. These entertaining tasks do a great job of keeping you on the lookout for extras while hoofing it through town and ­pumping ­sources.

I enjoyed the storytelling in Diabolical Box, as well as the new characters like Sammy, the rock ‘n roll train conductor. But some of the big reveals are particularly groan worthy, and two story clichés are unfortunately repeated in this sequel that I hope aren’t carried over to the third ­entry.


Game Informer's Review System
Concept You solve puzzles while the Professor solves ­the ­mysteries
Graphics Far more animated (and fully voiced) scenes are ­sprinkled ­throughout
Sound The signature accordion returns
Playability Players should have the ability to erase only parts of their hand scrawled memos instead of losing the ­whole ­thing
Entertainment All the charm and challenge of the first game. Surprisingly absent cameo: ­Lisa ­Kudrow
Replay Moderate