Saturday 10 October 2015

Puzzle-popping, lawyer-loving cross-breed is no mongrel

Reviewed - Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney; Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse (Episode 1); TxK

Published 05/04/2014 | 14:22

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for Nintendo 3DS
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for Nintendo 3DS
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse (Episode 1)
TxK for PS Vita

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Nintendo 3DS

RATING: 8.5/10

AGE: 12+

EVERYONE'S favourite gentleman detective meets the loveably uptight lawyer in a faintly bizarre crossover. But logically it makes sense when you think about it - two brainteasing series coming together in a meeting of minds.

The story contrives to transport Layton and Wright (plus their respective sidekicks) to a medieval city where they solve a variety of puzzles and defend clients in court cases. Their paths criss-cross throughout the plot (a bittersweet tale of love and neglect) but mostly the pairings stick to their own beats.

Layton and assistant Luke wander the streets talking to characters and cracking the usual assortment of riddles. Phoenix and Maya delve into lengthy court cases, probing witnesses' testimony for contradictions and generally acting hysterically.

The writing is this hybrid's strength, veering between bouts of comedy and pathos, touching many points in between.

The trouble is that fans of either series may not warm to the unfamiliar. With long bouts spent in the company of one pairing over the other, you may baulk at the sometimes challenging puzzles or grow impatient with the longwinded nature of the trials.

Even if you love both, you may conclude, m'lud, that this love-child of two respected series has a dual personality that rarely throws up something completely new. 

All that said, there's rarely a dull moment thanks to the sparky dialogue. Phoenix Wright acolytes will probably relish it more than Layton lovers but the verdict is: guilty of delivering a damn good time.


Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse (Episode 1)


RATING: 8/10

AGE: 12+

BUILT on the back of a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign, it's little surprise that BS5 gives the fans what they want. Even the opening scene (a murder in Paris) echoes the start of the original 1996 point'n'click adventure.

What follows doesn't deviate much from what you'd expect despite almost 20 years of gaming growing up in the interim. But it is filled with a rich cast of kooky characters, wry humour and a nicely realised set of locations spanning the French capital and London.

The voice-acting is generally on the money (though it errs on the side of hammy) and the puzzles aren't too obtuse (not with the generous hint system in place anyway).

There's no getting away from its lineage, though. BS5 is a strictly linear adventure that involves a lot of tapping the screen to explore scenery or advance the dialogue.

There’s no scheduled arrival date for Episode 2, which will cost another €6. Let’s hope it wraps up satisfactorily the many unanswered questions left hanging at the end of Episode 1.



PS Vita

RATING: 8.5/10

AGE: 7+

IF THE screenshot invokes deja-vu, there's no escaping the fact that TxK remakes the seminal shooter Tempest in several interesting ways. But, hey, at least it’s the man who’s given his life to Tempest remakes who’s ripping himself off with TxK.

Combining retro wireframe visuals, a thumping electro soundtrack and a thick dollop of out-there weirdness, this shooter forces you to redevelop your twitch reflexes of youth.

Anyone of a certain age may find it hard to keep up with the neon blizzard on the Vita’s screen – it requires supreme concentration and icy coordination to master the sensitive controls. But hey, who says games have to be easy?

At only €7, it’s a good advertisement for the old adage that quality never goes out of style.



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