Ah, Yale. Ah, shopping period. What happy, simple days, when life seems to emulate the ease of a 90s music video — a smooth rhythm of sweet, sincere glee punctuated with the occasional fist bump or tank-wearing man exclaiming “Yea!” (See: “Bring It All Back” by S Club 7, Crew House on Elm Street).
Yes, times are good. And yes, I haven’t really gone to class yet.
Instead, I’ve been playing “Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box,” the recently released puzzle cruncher by Level-5 Entertainment for the Nintendo DS.
First out in Japan in 2007, “Diabolical Box” is the second installment in what is to be a multipart series of mystery-themed logic games. Like the first episode in the series — “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” — the sequel follows a recipe of pretentious Anglophilia, pretty Miyazaki-like anime and well-chosen background melodies, all strung together by a series of idiot-friendly logic games.
The game tracks Professor Layton’s investigation of the “Elysian Box,” a killer antique (no, seriously). Layton, allegedly respectable, dresses like Chris Angel at a Las Vegas show premiere. The other protagonist is the professor’s assistant — an exceedingly young effebe, Luke, who often finds himself the butt of the professor’s condescending comments. But that’s not to say they don’t like each other. Indeed, they seem to share an almost pedophilic bond, occasionally dropping hints about their off-screen relations. I mean, how else can the following be interpreted?
Inspector Chelmey (another inspector on the case): “You keep a child around as an apprentice, do you?”
Professor Layton: “Actually, he’s my —”
Luke [interjects]: “I’m his assistant …”
He’s your what, Professor?
So many mysteries!
Yes, sometimes the Professor’s affectations and Luke’s creepy eunuch-esque voice become irksome. Still, the game comes out swinging with its plethora of jokes about obese women (“Gosh, that dress is large enough to be a bedspread!”) and captivating minigames, such as one where the player exercises a fat hamster with a faint New Jersey accent. Spartan, my beloved furball, has already dropped two levels of obesity, progressing from “lump” to “sloth.” While he still makes comments like, “I’m not so good at movin’ ‘n’ stuff,” he did once say, “I’m starting to look good.” Yea you are!
All in all, it’s an easy-going game. It doesn’t ask for much. It’s sweet and sincere and its non-repetitive puzzles, if Rubix Cube difficult, are at least engaging.
I have another three days of gameplay left, which means I’ll probably do my blue-booking in my dean’s office at 4 p.m. Tuesday. But until that shameful day of reckoning, all I can do is sigh: Ah, Professor Layton. Ah, murderous box. What a happy, simple game.