Level 5 has mostly been known for PS2 RPGs like Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy, but they’ve taken a significant turn with their latest project, Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village (see trailer). Unlike any of their previous games, Professor Layton is an adventure/puzzle game with an extraordinarily unique art style reminiscent of children’s books. It exudes a feeling similar to Ghibli movies, even if the art style is entirely different, and it’s a far step from the Japanese anime look. The previews show a rather large amount of animation that has been created, which hopefully means that they’re going to squish all of them into a DS cart. Level 5 has demonstrated a particular flair in creating stylized titles, like the gorgeous Dragon Quest VIII, so it’s no surprise that Professor Layton look as good as it does.
The game itself seems to be mostly about puzzle solving. Capitalizing on the massive success of Nintendo’s Brain Training series, Professor Layton has puzzles designed by Akira Tago, who is the author of a long running series of books called Head Gymnastics. The end result will probably be something more akin to Myst than Lucasarts games like Sam & Max, although the added characters and storyline will undoubtedly make it seem less like homework than games like Big Brain Academy. As one might expect, there are several difficulty levels and a hint function, as the game as targeted towards both children and adults.
Professor Layton is being self-published in Level 5 in February 2007, and at the moment, doesn’t have any publisher for worldwide distribution. However, given the fantastic look of the series and the DS’ reputation of bizarre games, it’s likely that someone somewhere will make plans to translate this into English.