Professor Layton (Series)

Emerging Technologies and Edtech June 19, 2014

Country of Origin:  Japan
Languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean (more possibly?)
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Level-5, Nintendo
Year Published: 2007 (first release)
Platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo exclusive)
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Barriers to entry:  Nintendo platforms only
Age range: 8+
Subjects: math

Games in the Professor Layton series are collections of logic puzzles, pieced together in a mystery format similar to a Sherlock Holmes mystery. The player is a young acolyte detective (Luke Triton), working with “Professor Hershel Layton,” the Holmes-like genius who helps the player to uncover the mystery of the story. 

The puzzles in the games are logic, math and brain-teaser puzzles not unlike those you might find in a book of brain-teasers or “lateral thinking puzzles.” Though they are presented in the context of the mystery story, the puzzles themselves are not tightly integrated with the story. When not solving puzzles, the player explores the town or city and its various buildings, discovering clues, meeting characters, and collecting items. While exploring in the story mode, the player collects coins that unlock hints for the puzzles.

The Professor Layton series has been hugely popular across a variety of territories. The charm of the story and characters, the beautiful artwork, and the extensive adventuring make the puzzles feel rewarding. (Also the designers work very hard to make the puzzles both visually and thematically match the story context.)

The series has a high cognitive challenge, couched in an intellectual property that makes it not only palatable, but also popular (the game has spawned additional properties such as a manga and an animated feature film).