Another point of diversion is the selection of mini-games that developer Level 5 has included with the main adventure. US fans seem to think that Pandora's Box is slightly weaker than its predecessor in this department; having not played the original I can't comment on this, but the new games are certainly engaging enough to be worth a look. The first mini-game involves re-assembling a camera from parts you scavenge around the game world, while a second requires you to fitness train a hamster by building an obstacle course. The latter game seems a bit rushed when compared to the quality of the game's other puzzles, but I certainly enjoyed the hamster's bizarre New Yoik accent.
Towards the middle of the story you'll also unlock a third mini-game that sees Layton and Luke brewing tea for the characters they meet. As with the camera and the hamster, this game uses collectible items that you'll occasionally win from a successful puzzle. In a nutshell, you're encouraged to mix different types of tea together in an attempt to discover new recipes. If you then happen to encounter someone who is thirsty, you'll be able to serve them their favorite brew. Do this, and you'll win a new puzzle. There are actually even more secrets to find in Pandora's Box - including a few that require codes from Mysterious Village - but by now you're probably getting the idea. Assuming that you like puzzles in the first place, this game represents amazing value for money. It'll last you an age, and even if you do somehow complete the whole thing, Level 5 is releasing downloadable puzzles on a weekly basis.
Pandora's Box would be pretty easy to recommend even if it were just a bare-bones collection of head-scratchers, but it certainly helps that everything else about the game is so utterly charming. The graphics uses a strange mix of European and Japanese styles, but the resulting hybrid is undeniably easy on the eye - especially during the game's impressive video cutscenes. On the audio front there's a rather nice selection of accordion-led tunes, and a surprisingly large quantity of dialogue. Written text is used for the majority of conversations, but where speech is used it's done very well - with Layton himself sounding particularly warm and friendly.
So, do I love Professor Layton as much as Wez did? Not quite. Despite the game's many strengths, I do have a few complaints. It's great that there are so many puzzles, but every so often I felt that the story was being spread a little too thinly between the challenges. Perhaps that's a daft complaint - or a compliment to the narrative - but there were certainly moments where I'd have liked a bit more plot as a reward for my brain-aching efforts. The puzzles themselves are largely very well designed, but the ones which rely upon spotting small details can occasionally suffer from the low resolution of the DS screens. There are also a few instances where your instructions are frustrating in their lack of clarity, or where the game is overly pedantic in the answer it demands. One early puzzle requires the player to work out how much of a particular picture is coloured blue, and how much is white. The required answer is 6:4, but if you simplify that answer to 3:2, as Mr Wright taught you in maths class, then the game will say that you're wrong.
I suppose there's also a chance that some people might be put off by the story's general weirdness. It's never really explained why Professor Layton is traveling around with a small boy, and when a police officer comments on this during one early moment, the duo react with peculiar embarrassment. I'm certainly not suggesting that there's anything untoward going on, but scenes like this do suggest that some of the game's humour has been lost in translation. Still, most of the time this strangeness is rather enjoyable - as if the game world has its own sense of logic, one that we're not quite privy to. If you liked Mysterious Village and need more, or if you just want something genuinely fresh and original for your DS, Pandora's Box is the answer you're looking for.