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Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney melds the best of both worlds

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the crossover Nintendo 3DS game featuring the titular puzzle-solving archeologist and the charismatic defense attorney, mixes the best challenges of the two games — the title features both Layton's nail-biting puzzles and the Ace Attorney series' iconic courtroom sequences.

The title, a crossover between Capcom's Ace Attorney and Level-5's Professor Layton franchises, features Professor Layton, his assistant Luke, attorney Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya. The four are transported by a magical book into a city and are tasked with absolving a young woman accused of being a witch. Players can work their way through the story by selecting from either puzzle sessions led by Layton and courtroom and investigation scenes with Phoenix. Both of these options are available to player at any time; both men's stories can be accessed from the in-game menu and players can complete segments from either as they choose.

These two elements retain the core gameplay of both. For Layton, this is solving puzzle after puzzle, from brain teasers to picture-revealing jigsaw puzzles. In a demo played during E3, we solved a handful of these kind of visual puzzles. One was a traditional jigsaw puzzle depicting a hamburger sprayed with ketchup; our task was to piece the puzzle back together and line up the ketchup spray. Another puzzle involved moving blocks bearing pieces of an image around the screen, reorganizing them to reveal a hidden symbol.

Breaking up these Layton challenges are courtroom scenes from the Ace Attorney series, in which Phoenix Wright cross-examines witnesses and determines their innocence. This is done by first listening to a witness tell their story, then pressing them for more details after each separate statement. Once players find a contradiction between the testimony and the evidence they have in the Court Records — an inventory of things found at the crime scene and relevant to the case — they can compare the information and further press the witness. Sometimes the witness will crack, exposing themselves, and other times the evidence will prove their innocence.

These two things — Layton's puzzles and Ace Attorney's court scenes — make up the meat and potatoes of each franchise. Having them together in one game makes the title a non-stop gauntlet of mental challenges as players move from visual puzzles to conundrums that require deep thinking and a quick memory. This combination essentially makes the game a giant hybrid puzzle. Between putting together jigsaw puzzle pieces to create images and pressing witnesses with unsound testimonies, there's a lot to do in the game.

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is slated to launch in North America later this year.

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