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First Impression: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katerielle and the Millonaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) ~ Miss Layton

layton lady katrielle mystery journey.jpgWikipedia page

To be honest, when I first heard about the release of this game, I thought that Level5 was going to port the Android spin-off Layton Brothers to the 3DS. Since it has a similar concept. A team that solves smaller cases as a detective and try to solve crimes. Yet, to my surprise, the story of this game goes about the daughter of the famous professor Layton, named Katrielle. While the game first released on mobile devices, I played the 3DS version. I’m used to be playing Professor Layton games on the 3DS, so why change that if I knew that a 3DS version was coming. Since I haven’t played the mobile version, that means I won’t be talking about it in my first impression here either. So, I think it’s time that I talk about this game, is it a good entry into the Layton franchise or is it a spin-off that should only exist one time? As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s Miss Layton now

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-01.jpgIn this game, you play as Katrielle, Layton’s daughter. She just opened a mystery solving shop in London and she is awaiting her first mysteries to solve. Her motto is “any mystery solved”. Together with her assistant named Ernest, you come across a talking dog. Katrielle gives the talking dog a name, Sherl. Yes, as a reference to Sherlock Holmes. The strange thing is that not everybody can hear Sherl talking. Katrielle’s first mystery is trying to solve why that is. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the first case reveals itself and Katrielle gets distracted by solving that. Not too soon after, Katrielle, Ernest, and Sherl go on different adventures to solve cases.

The writing in this game is very lighthearted and a joy to read. I really enjoy how Katrielle does anything for food, how Ernest is the clumsy romantic and Sherl the dog that knows a lot about how humans live their daily lives. The story can take itself seriously when it needs to, but overall, this is a less serious entry into the series compared to the previous games in the series. I’m currently at the 5th case in the game, so it’s possible that it can change. But, we shall see. The voice acting on the characters is also amazing. I think that the cast did an amazing job voicing these characters and make them come to life. A gold star for that!

I do have one minor complaint about the naming of certain characters in the game. The word puns in some cases made me cringe a bit. They didn’t feel creative, they felt forced in. Like, there was a couple where the lady was called Vic and the male called Tim. There were a bit more names like that and it didn’t click with me. I felt that more day-to-day names like Marc, William, Sara, Marian would be fitted better.

The story is structured in such a way that it more resembles a Saturday morning anime. Each case doesn’t take too long to solve, but each case has a nice start, middle and finale. During the case, you gather clues, that you have to fit in a puzzle. While this puzzle is extremely easy to make, I think it’s a step up from the previous Layton games since it’s more than a button that unlocks in a menu.

I do have one complaint about the story actually. I feel like the focus on the backstory of Sherl is a bit too much pushed to the background in the first cases. For real, the twist the game starts with about Sherl didn’t go anywhere substantial in the first four cases. If it did, I must have missed it.

Layton at its core

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-02While this game has a different main cast, the gameplay of this game is still the usual Layton gameplay at its core. In this game, you solve brain teasers and puzzles to get information from people. There are over 150 puzzles in this game. While you don’t have to solve them all to beat the game, there are some points in the game where you need to solve a certain amount of puzzles in order to progress. In this case, the game will clearly state how many you need to solve.

As I said earlier, this game is all about solving mysteries and finding clues to solve that mystery. Like I said before, the game is pretty lighthearted, so the mysteries aren’t; well how shall I put it? A missing pet or a missing part of a movie, that is the two of the first four cases. Yeah, I think that explains itself. So, you have to explore the London to find clues to what happened and how to solve the case.

While you are exploring, you can go to various locations and each location has various things to do. Exploration is just traveling from screen to screen. Sometimes you will have to ride a bike to another remote location, but that is about it. Also, you can only go to screens you unlocked. What I mean by this is that when for example, a lady on street tells you that your client lives a bit more down the road, the map opens up to that location.

This is how exploration always worked in the Layton games. Yet, you can do a lot on each screen. You can find hidden collectibles or puzzles, hint coins, progress the story or get interesting commentary about the object you tapped on. I really advise you to look at each screen with a lot of attention since all those things can be handy in solving the future cases. Especially the hint coins, if you can collect them, that’s always a great idea.

If you have played Layton games before, most hiding spots of the hint coins won’t be a surprise to you. Otherwise, try to tap on everything and it won’t take long before you will start to understand how this whole system works. So, why are these hint coins so handy? Well, let me tell you. You can get a hint when you are stuck in solving a brain teaser. Believe me, some will get you stumped and make you think. A great advice from me is to have a pen and notebook handy and maybe a calculator too.

While you can take notes and draw on the touchscreen while you solve the puzzle, I always felt that this system didn’t work flawlessly. If you want to input an answer, you have to exit out of your notes. In addition to that, I love writing my thoughts more on paper or on a bigger screen than the 3DS’s screen to solve puzzles.

The puzzles that you can solve in this game will range from math riddles to mazes you will have to solve. If you are stuck, don’t hesitate to think outside of the box. Since a lot of answers will simpler then you think. Something I didn’t like about this game is something that Level5 stopped doing in the previous entry in the Layton series. In the first games in the series, they explained the answer. In this game, they don’t always do that. So, when I didn’t understand why I had to answer in a certain way, I was disappointed to see a simple screen saying “you do it!” and nothing more.

Compared to previous Layton games, this game has also some side quests you can perform. During your exploration, you come across various characters who give you a new puzzle that is saved in Katrielle’s trunk. Like a puzzle where you need to solve a maze with the least amount of steps and finding the perfect meal with a cryptic description. Actually, I wouldn’t call them side quests, I think a better name is a side activity or a side puzzle.

Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of picards. The side puzzles aren’t worth any picards. So, what do these picards do? Well, the more you earn, the more bonus material you unlock after finishing the game. So, try to gain as much picards if you can. Since, if you give a wrong answer to a puzzle, the number of picards you earn from that puzzle drop. Keep that in mind if you want to unlock everything.

Visual eye-candy

lady layton 2.jpgThe visual presentation of this game is just amazing. This game has some amazing artwork and is a real piece of visual eye-candy to look at. While the game doesn’t use 3D that often, or at all, I think I can’t decide which art style I like the best for the game. The overall game is 2D, but the character models are rendered in 3D. While in cutscenes, everything is in 2D. I think the screenshots will explain it better than I can with words.

But, there is one thing that I didn’t like about the presentation and that are the cutscenes. To be honest, most cutscenes are just too short. Some cutscenes aren’t longer than one sneeze and blowing your nose. This is a shame since the cutscenes look so well made. I really wish there were longer cutscenes to enjoy. I feel that they are just an afterthought, while they feel like a nice reward for finding a breakthrough or solving the case.

The music for this game is enjoyable as well. The soundtrack isn’t one where I would listen to when I’m doing other things, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and I have no complaints about that. The music really fits the Layton universe perfectly, if you didn’t know better, you would say that it’s a soundtrack from another Layton game earlier in the series. The sound design also feels right at home. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, when they are used, they are used to give the world a bit more life or the story a bit more punch.

Like previous Layton games, this game also has daily puzzles. But this time, I feel that the reward is better for solving them. As you might know, I’m a game collector and I love seeing artwork from the games I played. So, when you solve a daily puzzle, you will get museum points. If you get 100 museum points, you can unlock artwork from any of the previous titles. This is such a great feature since it pulls on my nostalgic strings so much. To be honest, I spend a lot of time-solving the daily puzzles. I really enjoy solving most of them and I wish that time went a bit faster so I could receive my puzzles a bit faster.

While most of the issues I have with the game are minor, I think this game is still a great game. Some issues I have with the game or some minor, they became a nitpick. For example, I really liked how in previous games, each save slot had a different character from the main cast presenting it. In this game, it’s Katrielle for all three. Yeah, major nitpick right there.

Another minor issue that I have are some parts of the controls. While you can use the “A” button, and strangely enough the arrow buttons, to continue dialogues; you can’t use the psychical buttons for anything else. Besides solving some puzzles. Everything is done using the touchscreen. I really miss some shortcut keys. Like using the circle button to move your looking glass around or the shoulder buttons to open the movement menu or a button to open the trunk like “Y” for example. That would be a great addition.

Then again, there are things in the game I really like. Like how you can decorate the mystery solving office to how you want. Changing the Fengshui if you want. Depending on how many puzzles you solve, you get a ticket to “buy” a new item to change up the decoration of your office.

That isn’t the only thing you can change, there are also outfits for Katrielle you can buy. Some even as DLC for a small fee. While they have only a visual purpose and nothing else, the ones you can buy as DLC have an additional puzzle for you to solve.

About the costumes, there is one minor flaw I have to bring up. You can change Katrielle’s costume at any time you want. Yet, I noticed that Katrielle wears special outfits during other chapters. For example, in one chapter she dresses up in a nice dress since she is going out to see a movie with Ernest. If you exit that case and go to a different case to find hint coins you missed, Katrielle is still wearing that special dress. This is a bit out of context in my eyes and shouldn’t happen. Oh well, only a minor complaint?

Oh yeah, you can go back to previous cases in order to find hint coins and puzzles you missed. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no indication when you missed another collectible in the case. Even an indication on the case brief screen would have been nice. Since, if you skipped over one collectible, have fun looking for it, since the game won’t help you there. On the other hand, I think it’s a great move that you can visit back and solve puzzles you haven’t solved or found and looking for hint coins you missed. The only tip the game gives you there is the screen you missed it on. So, have fun looking for what you missed.

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game. While the game isn’t flawless at all, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here. If you are still deciding if this game is for you, know that it’s a more lighthearted Layton game with the same atmosphere and gameplay but without Layton, Luke and the usual gang. This game has a completely new cast of characters. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and I can’t wait to see where Level5 takes this. I would love to see Katrielle and Layton meet one day.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

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Gamer’s Thoughts: “Games are a waste of time”

gamedealsHappy Mothers day 2017! A phrase I hear my mom saying from time to time is: “I don’t understand why people enjoy games.”. That question actually made me think. Why do we gamers enjoy games? Why do people who don’t play games see them sometimes as annoying or time wasters? Well, in this article I’m going to give my two cents in the discussion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about your opinion and/or my opinion in the comment section down below. 

Why do I play games?

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First of all, let me explain why I play games. In an article last year, I tried to explain why I play games. But in most of the article, I talked about why I collect games.

So, why do I play games? Well, I think it’s because of several reasons. The first reason would be because I grew up in a time where playing the Gameboy was the hip thing to do on the school playground. Pokémon was extremely popular when I was in elementary and I was hooked. Then my family took me to various garage sales and flea markets. I bought more and more games on the Gameboy and I got hooked.

The second reason is because it was a very easy conversation topic. When I was on a trip, I was able to talk to other kids easily thanks to games. Phrases like: “What are you playing?”, “Have you played game X” or “How far are you into the game?” are phrases that often crossed my lips as a child. I made so many friends thanks to games.

A 3rd reason would be that I was so interested in reading and telling stories. But why am I less addicted to movies or books then? Well, the interactivity is the biggest reason. The fact I can make a difference in the world the game is so important to me. That’s why I love games that have a great story.

So, in conclusion, I think due to nostalgia and the interactive nature of gaming, I got hooked on gaming and never let go. Nowadays, I even have a 4th and 5th reason. My 4th reason is that I’m interested in how people get entertained by games. If I had the right skills, I would have studied game design.

And my 5th reason is this blog, honestly. I love to share stories of games I played. And writing a blog about them is one of the best ways to share them. The best way is YouTube, but I burned out on making videos…

Why do people play games?

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I’m quite sure that gaming is here to stay. While some hardcore gamers won’t like the next sentence, but due to the casual mobile gaming market, there are much more people play games than ever before.

The fact that gaming is a national sport in South Korea and that people earn their living with playing games are more proof that gaming is here to stay.

I think that the reason why people play games is similar to why people watch Netflix all day or read books in their free time. It’s their way of entertaining themselves. To relax after a (stressful) day at school or work.

People will always look for a way to entertain themselves. Another reason is that the current generation is growing up with a culture where video games are everywhere. Speaking about that, games are becoming more and more accessible to young children. And look at me, when you do something since childhood, it isn’t easy to let go.

Why games can be annoying/uninteresting

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0 When I ask people who don’t play games, I sometimes get a reply like: “I don’t have the time for them” or “I’m not interested in them.” Which are both very valid arguments, in my opinion. But they aren’t good answers to why people can find games annoying or a waste of time.

Well, I have a few theories for why people think that games can be annoying. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. Why I think people find games annoying. Also, let me make on thing clear, I’m talking in very general terms in the following theories. I know that we as humans are a more complex race.

My first theory is that people don’t like the interactivity of the games. They enjoy TV-shows where they can sit down and just take in the content. Or you could replace TV-shows with movies, books, plays, concerts…

A 2nd theory is one I think makes a lot of sense of the older generation. The fact that they didn’t grow up with games but saw children and teenagers grow up with them. In their eyes, games would be a toy for children and for teenagers, so their interest fades away. “Why would something that’s meant for children is any use to me?” is a thought that summarizes this theory. A generation gap if you will.

A 3rd theory is because they don’t see the appeal to games. They don’t understand what can be so engaging in playing games. Also, they don’t understand what additional value games can bring to people since most games are entertainment games. There aren’t a lot of gamers who play educational games just for fun. And I mean, that their favorite genre is educational games.

A 4th theory is the loud toxic minority that gives us gamers a bit reputation. People who do violent things and then blame it on violent video games. I think that media outlets especially can be a problem in this case. Since they give non-gamers the impression that every game is so violent and that it taints people their brain. Maybe we just need to get past the phase that certain styles of music and movies went through.

But, I’m getting off track. What I mean with the loud toxic minority are the people who actually go out their way to make the gaming community look like a bunch of unwelcome jerks. People who won’t help others to play games. Thankfully, there are a lot of forums, websites, and networks that are meant to welcome new gamers with open arms. But sadly enough, it’s the loud toxic minority that sometimes gives communities a bad reputation. And people tend to generalize… So yeah, I think I made my point clear here.

So, that are a few theories I have. I wonder how you guys think about them. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my theories. But please, keep it civil. I’m open to discussion, but I’m not open to flame wars.

Wrapping up

So, should we force people to play games? Well, no. We should ask them why they don’t like games and invite them to give games a chance. I accepted that members of my family don’t enjoy playing games. I don’t enjoy reading that much while my mom loves to read a lot of books.

Before I forget, this whole article has been inspired by the quote of my mother I used in the introduction of my article. So, thank you, mom, for this great idea! I hope you had a great mothers day today!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!