Professor Layton and the Curious Village

FeatureThe DS' Great Adventure

How Nintendo's handhold has provided a new home for a displaced genre.

What comes to mind when you think about the DS? Endless Brain Training knock-offs? Patrick Stewart with his funny beard in the TV advert? Various disturbing budget games in which little girls look after genital-free babies? The DS has become so successful, so ubiquitous, in recent years that it's easy to forget that when it started out, pre-Lite, it was something of a kooky oddity. We wrote an entire love letter about how delightfully strange it was just two years ago. Now the DS' image has suffered; we've forgotten that it's the console that inspired weirdness and creativity like no other, because all we see is endless, imagination-devoid shovelware aimed at either your mum or your daughter.

Nintendo announces Wii Music date

Nintendo announces Wii Music date

Sorts out schedule for end of 2008.

Nintendo has made official noises about releasing Wii Music in Europe on 14th November.

This is the game Shigeru Miyamoto was playing on stage at E3, should you ever forget. Our hands-on impressions of Wii Music can fill you in on the rest.

EA has also locked down a release date for the Wii versions of 21st November for Skate It and Need For Speed: Undercover. We've not heard about the other versions of these, but they're unlikely to be too far from that.

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Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Curiouser and curiouser.

The title is enough to let you know everything about this game. It's gorgeous, elaborate, and silly. It's a game that can only work on the DS, and celebrates all that's engaging and esoteric about the medium.

Professor Layton is a top-hat-wearing fellow who has a penchant for puzzle-solving. He has heard word about a mysterious village containing a special puzzle revolving around an object called The Golden Apple. Travelling with his young companion, Luke, he enters the curious village to discover a town populated by people obsessed with puzzles, and a lot of peculiar secrets. It's a puzzle game, but with one heck of a story.

At first glance, you'll think this is a kids' game. In fact, the opening sequence - a really beautiful animated cut-scene that you'd believe could have come from the mind of Hayao Miuazaki - really feels aimed at children. Prof Layton is an avuncular fellow, cheery of disposition and speaks very clearly and plainly to his buddy. Luke is a chirpy, over-enthusiastic kid, excited by the adventure laying out before them. It doesn't prepare you for a story that's surprisingly dark (there's a murder within the first hour), and then impressively convoluted. And perhaps most significantly, the puzzles are far too difficult for a pre-teen audience. Quickly you realise that your brain was just in the wrong place, and you soon settle into a cartoon world designed for adults.

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FeatureDS - 2007's Most Wanted

The best things yet to come in small packages.

It's hard to think back to a time when the all-consuming success of Nintendo's DS was in any doubt. But, as with so many new and different things, videogame consumers at first struggled to put their faith in what appeared to be an unfocused hotchpotch of whimsical design ideas.

Level 5's new DS game

Starring an English prof.

Japanese developer Level 5 is working on a new DS game called Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village, aiming to combine a fantasy setting with the sort of brainy puzzles that have become a bit popular on the handheld.