As a big fan of The Professor Layton DS games having completed The Curious Village, Pandora’s Box and The Lost Future, I was very interested to see how the DVD would compare without the interactivity of the games and if the moving storylines would continue into the movie. Although the movie is based on the games, it’s really not essential to have played them to understand it.
The movie follows Professor Layton and his Apprentice (Number 1) Luke as they recall a case from three years ago helping opera singer Janice Quatlane. Invited to the opera based on the legend of Ambrosia, the Eternal Kingdom, the Professor and Luke find themselves in a game with the winner receiving a gift which everyone in the audience wants to win. Getting a puzzle wrong means game over but who is behind these games and why?
As the movie is set before the DS games, the only original characters are the Professor (voiced by Christopher Robin Miller), Luke (voice by Maria Darling) and Dr Schrader (who plays a small part in the movie). For those unfamiliar with them, Luke gives a short introduction. Because this is set before the DS games were released it was important there were no other recognisable characters although I’m sure Claudia the cat from Pandora’s Box makes an appearance. Janice is a beautiful character and plays a big role in the movie while there are many various characters with different personalities and backgrounds introduced shortly after the game begins.
Unlike the DS games, there are only 4 puzzles to be solved. I was a little disappointed in them as they weren’t as puzzling as the games although this makes them a little more accessible to the younger audience. I’d recommend pausing the DVD shortly after the puzzle is given out however as it’s not too long before a solution is found. I did like the fact they are titled 001 etc like the games. While the puzzles are completed quite early on in the movie there is still a lot to be discovered and there is quite a nice overall message. You need to keep watching past the credits too as the story links back to the beginning.
The animation is very true to the game and transfers to the big screen extremely well. With the games, there are so many puzzles to solve so the story gets broken up quite a bit where the movie keeps a good pace. The buildings are instantly recognisable as those similar to the games with their spires and towers and although a couple scenes in the movie are something more likely to be seen in e.g. a Sonic game with CGI effects, works well overall. The Detragan especially is impressive moving so beautifully shortly followed the movement of the cars on the wet London streets. While the movie is quite serious and includes characters coping with death, there are some comedic moments bound to get a laugh.
The score is beautiful, again staying very close to the music used in the games. There are some beautiful Japanese songs which are subtitled into English. The graphics however are not so perfect on the DVD. Various faces have visible lines down them although it doesn’t affect the whole screen. I’m not sure if the Blu-Ray also suffers with this problem but it’s not something that ruins it, just distracts a little.
Is it the toughest puzzle for Professor Layton? I wouldn’t really say it was but it was still well worth watching. Was it as moving as the games? Yes, most definitely. Unfortunately there are no extras included on the DVD – might have been nice to have a few puzzles to solve other than just chapter selection and Japanese/English audio options as well as a good introduction at the start for The Lost Future. It’s rated U with some mild violence but I don’t think young children are going to understand much of it. If you are considering whether to get the DVD or one of the games, I’d recommend a game. I’ve already watched it several times and I will happily watch it again.