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Professor Layton, Sherlock Holmes slide into stores on Nintendo 3DS

After a slow start, the adventure genre picked up some major steam on the Nintendo 3DS this week.  Hot on the heels of the North American launch of Zero Escape, now the Europeans get their turn with today's launch of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask and Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Frozen City.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

After four successful adventures on the plain ol' 2D DS, the top-hatted archaeologist and puzzle-solver extraordinaire is springing into his first 3D adventure in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.

Responding to a call for help from an old friend, Layton and his cohorts Luke and Emmy arrive in the city of Monte d’Or right before a carnival parade. But casting a pall over the festivities is the presence of a masked man performing "magically dark miracles, such as turning citizens to stone." Suspecting it's related to the powerful "Mask of Chaos", Layton reflects "back to a dark episode of his past, which may hold the solution to the problems of the present. These flashbacks introduce Layton’s parents and childhood friend Randall, and allow you to play as the 17 year-old Layton, who pays a high price for discovering his passion for archaeology…"

Promising 150 brand new puzzles and three new minigames, Miracle Mask still features the same charming hand-drawn artwork of its predecessors, but to make use of the new handheld's unique capabilities, it uses 3D animations and character models and includes "a brand new game mode that sees the young Professor Layton explore ancient ruins and requires you to help him reach the exits of a series of puzzling chambers while avoiding a variety of obstacles and mummy enemies."

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is available for purchase from UK retailers now, as well as via download from the Nintendo eShop. The North American launch is still a couple days away, with an expected release date of October 28th.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Frozen City

This has been a big month for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective. First it was the acclaimed release of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, and now the master sleuth is back in an all-new 3DS puzzle-adventure, Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Frozen City.

After an unparalleled two-day blizzard in London that has blanketed the city in snow and ice, Sherlock Holmes "receives a telegram coming from the Annual Exhibition of Inventions, taking place in the Great Hall of Scientific Discoveries at the very heart of the city: the storm might not be natural... Finally a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes’ great mind!"

Developed exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, the game promises to make good use of the handheld's unique features as it sends Holmes and Watson to "collect the clues, interrogate numerous and colorful characters, and crack dozens of fascinating puzzles and brain teasers."

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Frozen City is available today at major UK retailers. There is no word yet on a possible North American release of the game.

(Note that 3DS games are region-restricted.)

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