Mind The Gap

Originally Published: 31 May 2008

Professor Layton and the Curious Village is a strange game. Not in a “What? Why have they released this?” kind of way, but in the way that everyone who plays it has a slightly different experience.

My girlfriend and I have spent, over the past few days, something close to 9 hours on trains – heading up to Glasgow and Edinburgh for a bit of a holiday. The majority of this time, and several more hours in and amongst, have been spent with one or the other of us playing the game.

Prior to this week, I had spent a few more hours on the game than Carole, and was a few puzzles ahead. As I write this, on the way back down from Edinburgh, my beloved is busily ploughing through the game, solving puzzles like a trooper.

And it’s that element that amazes me. I’m not saying that Carole is thick (especially as she’s wanting to read this when I’ve finished writing it), it’s the fact that we’re solving puzzles in completely different ways. Some puzzles in the game I find incredibly easy to solve, but my other half takes longer to figure out the answers, and vice versa.

Case in point, there’s a puzzle fairly early on called “Parking Lot Gridlock” which asks you to move various parked cars around, both horizontally and vertically, to enable the Layton-mobile to leave the car park. I spent ages on this one. Ages and ages. Ages and ages and ages. And three hint coins. Carole discovers the puzzle during her play through. I think “ho ho, she’ll be on that for a while” and make my way down the train to answer a call of nature. Upon my return, the puzzle is solved and she’s working on the next one and, believe me, I wasn’t gone very long, helped in no small part by an ungodly smell that was not of my making!

Flip it around, puzzle 44 askes you divide a sheet of various denomination stamps into 7 different shaped sections, each totalling $1. This one, for me, was a piece of cake. My petal took a little longer over this one – having to restart the puzzle a few times before the solution presented itself.

Many games boast about, and offer, a unique experience for each player – Oblivion, GTA IV and Mass Effect being obvious examples – but I love the fact that even more “linear” games like Professor Layton provide a different experience for different people.