I’ve been playing Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright for the last few days, and it’s an OK game. It’s essentially two games in one, half a Professor Layton puzzle game, and half a Phoenix Wright trial game. You may have noticed that several reviews of the game (including our own) are pretty lukewarm on the whole idea, and while I genuinely enjoy this game, I can see why. Basically, there were a few flawed design ideas that dragged the whole thing down. Here’s hoping the developers can learn these lessons, because I truly do want to see a sequel come about.
- All Recognizable Characters and Places Were Removed
Aside from Inspector Chelmey, and a brief cameo by Edgeworth after the game was over, no characters other than Phoenix, Maya, Luke, and Layton are really present in this game. The characters that we have come to know and love were taken out for a completely different story in a completely different world. Series regulars were hoping to see Larry Butz or Don Paolo, but were out of luck.
- Investigation Elements Were Removed
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright takes place in a low technology world where witch trials are taking place. Unfortunately, this means that you never get to cleverly go through crime scenes with ultra violet lights and Luminol. You never get to find leftover fingerprints or key pieces of evidence. In fact you never get to find any evidence at all! It’s always just handed to you over the course of the trial. Similarly the investigation elements of Professor Layton were also toned down. Mysteries seem to come out of left field and you never feel like you are building up to a grand mystery reveal.
- They Didn’t Give Us The Gameplay They Promised
In chapter six, there is this awesome puzzle where you are trying to fit a key into a keyhole and it just won’t turn. You realize over the course of this puzzle that it was a “puzzle with a contradiction” and that the real way to solve the puzzle is to rearrange pieces of the key into the keyhole. Capcom and Level-5 said we would be seeing a whole bunch of these puzzles over the course of the game, but they just aren’t there. Similarly, puzzles only enter the trial portions of the game once or twice. It felt a lot less like a melding of the two series and a lot more like a Layton and Wright game were just chopped and stitched together. In future crossovers we would like to see more actual “puzzles with contradictions.”
- They Let the Wrong Series End the Game
One of the major problems with Professor Layton games is that they always have some weird and ludicrous ending. Sometimes everyone is a robot. Sometimes it was all a hallucination. Sometimes it was a secret city built under London. The ending of Layton vs. Wright has this problem and then some, because Phoenix Wright endings have always had a stake in the real. Even though Phoenix cross examines a radio and Maya summons spirits into her that literally change her body, you still mostly catch criminals in the act of simple crimes like murder… not huge conspiracies like… well… the end of the game reveals.
- They Punished You For Playing the Game How It Was Meant to Be Played
Tying Picarats to your “credibility” in cases was a very, very bad idea. In Professor Layton , you are rewarded for completing puzzles perfectly. But in Phoenix Wright , making wild accusations and losing some credibility is part of the game, especially in the more difficult parts. Having your Picarat total lower as a result of this compelled people to use walkthroughs and burn hint coins, another thing that you try NOT to do in a Layton game.
- They Made Each Character a Stereotype
Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright are two of the greatest characters in the handheld gaming world. Phoenix has had a dark past involving murder and betrayal, and Professor Layton is compelled to be a gentleman due to the loss of one of his most cherished loved ones. But in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright , they are just the goofy lawyer and the dashing puzzle solving gentleman. There is no character development here, and it makes the game feel more like fanfiction than it already does.
That being said I still liked this game, and I really do want to see Capcom and Level-5 team up again. Consider these to be your hint coin hints guys! You didn’t lose too many Picarats on your first try!