Electronic Theatre Preview: May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville

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            The Nintendo 3DS may be available at retailers across the globe, and finally gaining some momentum through respectable software releases, but that doesn’t mean the original Nintendo DS line of consoles is now forgotten about. With an excess of one hundred million potential customers, any publisher willing to overlook that market would be very foolish indeed. Mastertronic isn’t making any such mistakes however, bringing a new title in one of the most popular genres on one of the most popular formats to market this summer.

            May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville will inevitably be compared to the Professor Layton games. The game’s combination of animated story and logic, word, lateral thinking and mathematical puzzles defined by the plotline is unmistakeable in terms of its inspiration, but that’s not to say it’s without itsElectronic Theatre Image own charm. May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville casts the player as the titular May, about to embark on a thrilling adventure to find her missing brother.

The puzzles included within the main plotline are varied to say the least. There are those based on Point-N’-Click games, in which the player must search for the correct information in the local area or acquire and item for use later on, and then there are more traditional arithmetic and visual challenges. There’s even some crossover with other successful titles: the likes of Picross and other popular puzzle videogames make their way into May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville’s puzzle assortment. Should a challenge become too great players can utilise a hint to progress, though these are in limited supply.

Bonus puzzles are unlocked through completion of the puzzles in the main story, and are divided into more than a dozen different puzzle types. Completing bonus puzzles will offer significant rewards, including more hints that can be used at any time. There are some issues with the occasional puzzle here and in the main plot, which Electronic Theatre can’t be certain if it’s a case of poor localisation or a simple mistake. For example, during a hidden object game the player is asked to find a ‘badminton ball’. What, exactly, is a badminton ball? Of course, they mean a shuttlecock, but that didn’t stop our team looking at each other quite confused as they attempted to find a small ball in the puzzle.

The game is presented with a familiar, colourful art style, aping cartoons such as The Adventures of Tintin and Mr. Men whilst still retaining a level of individuality. Just as with the game itself, the visual style risks a great number of comparisons to Nintendo’s hugely successful Professor Layton series. The game fluidly cuts from playable scenes to animated shorts – of which there are plenty – and despite the often ham-fisted approach to dialog May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville has a plotline that’s wound into the game well enough to encourage players to continue even when confronted with difficult puzzles.

May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville is a promising puzzle-based adventure game, almost certain to find itself a welcome audience when it arrives later this summer. The software line-up for the Nintendo DS has taken a sharp turn for the worse as the Nintendo 3DS gathers pace, but just as with any system in its twilight years, there’s still every chance a true gem can be found. For gamers who originally purchased their Nintendo DS console for the likes of the Professor Layton or Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training titles, May’s Mysteries: The Secret of Dragonville has a good chance of being their last great videogame experience.

 

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