Best Console/Handheld Adventure (Exclusive): Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (aka Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box)
Five years after its release, the Nintendo DS is still the most prolific non-PC platform for the genre. And it’s no mystery why. While maintaining a familiar point-and-click interface (albeit with a stylus in hand instead of a mouse), the unique little handheld device allows players to comfortably lounge in their favorite chairs or fit a little gaming in while on the go. And with its limited hardware, the DS lends itself perfectly to titles that emphasize gameplay over technology. In the right developer hands, the result can be a picturesque adventure full of odd characters and mind-blowing puzzles, enriched by a stunning visual presentation that seems to stem from a Miyazaki movie. Sound familiar?
Yes, for the second year in a row, a Professor Layton adventure wins our Best Console/Handheld category hands-down, so the eccentric archeologist and puzzle-solver extraordinaire can now proudly add a second Aggie to his award showcase. Thanks to its charming atmosphere, a cast of whimsical characters, and especially its vast collection of brain-teasing conundrums, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is a must-play for fans of puzzle-driven games. Though the story is undeniably thin, the quirky tale of Pandora's Box, the whimsically compelling mystery of the Molentary Express, and the quaint ambiance of the villages scattered alongside its course provide an endearing backdrop for Layton and Luke's escapades. Add to this a lovely graphic design, catchy soundtrack, and tons of wonderfully animated cutscenes, and it’s clear why every player is in for a delightful experience that can warm the heart while challenging the little grey cells like few other games can, regardless of genre or platform.
Runners-Up: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past
Readers’ Choice: Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Apparently we’re all suckers for a good puzzle. Or if not just one, then for a mind-boggling (and not for the last time) 150-plus puzzles in the stylish Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. Sure it may be more a puzzle game than fully-integrated adventure, but the Professor’s second title is the sort of challenging, just-one-more experience that makes people consider buying a Nintendo DS all on its own.
Runners-Up: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories
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Next up: Best First-Person PC Adventure... the envelope, please!