Nintendo Character Profile | Professor Hershel Layton

By Adam Riley 10.12.2011 4


Professor Hershel Layton
Professing his love of puzzles since 2007

Level-5’s CEO, Akihiro Hino, has had a love of puzzles since he was a young child, especially those of Professor Akira Tago, who published numerous Mental Gymnastics collections in Japan. He is also a self-professed admirer of Shu Takumi’s creation, Phoenix Wright, star of Capcom’s Ace Attorney series. Using these two sources as inspiration for Level-5’s first self-published game, the character of Professor Layton was born and after just a few years in existence he has become somewhat of a household name thanks to the series of games selling over 11 million copies so far.

Statistics

Age: In the first trilogy, Curious Village, Pandora’s Box and The Lost Future, Professor Layton is 37 years old, but he first became a Professor at age 27 and initially became intrigued by the field of archaeology back when he was a mere 18 years of age.

Species: Human, male. A true gentleman in every regard, solving conundrums, helping people, saving the day, and even finding time to enjoy a nice cup of English tea from time-to-time.

Location: Professor Layton hails from London, England. His title comes from the fact that he is indeed a professor of archaeology at the fictional Gressenheller University in the capital city. Although keen to follow the archaeological route, Layton became so renowned for uncovering the truths behind perplexing situations that he is asked regularly to help out in all sorts of matters.

Birth: Nothing is really known about Professor Layton’s parents, but with the advent of The Layton Brothers: Mystery Room for iOS devices in 2012, and a sixth entry into the main series coming, it appears that Level-5 has plenty of scope to fill in his back-story and family details further.

Main Features: Our beloved Professor is a humble man by nature, always acting in the interests of others, even if it seemingly appears to be to the detriment of his own safety. One such example is when he pits himself in a sword fight to maintain his honour and protect those in his company. Even in the gravest of situations, Hershel Layton always retains his cool, calm personality, dealing with whatever he is faced with in the most logical of ways.

Clothing: Wherever Professor Layton travels, his trademark dark brown top hat with a red trim follows, acting almost like his own personal signature, being worn almost constantly in memory of his former love, Claire. Other than that, his smart casual attire reflects his character perfectly, mirroring his soft manner, yet also his precise, accurate personality. Under his high-collared coat he sports a snug-fitting orange top, with brown trousers and matching loafers.

Image for Nintendo Character Profile | Professor Hershel Layton

Concept

Akihiro Hino has mentioned that Professor Layton is reminiscent of a polished version of Phoenix Wright, but there are also apparent links between the character and the eponymous Sherlock Holmes. Not much is known about his past due the first set of games focusing mainly on his exploits in the current time period. However, during Professor Layton and the Lost Future, the last of the first trilogy, we learn some information about his previous work and group of friends. Claire Foley was Layton’s college belle and a real smart cookie, Bill Hawk was a scientist working on a time travel project, and Dimitri Allen was a research partner helping the two of them. All were linked with Hershel Layton until the day when an experiment went wrong and Claire, who both Layton and Allen were in love with, lost her life.

Following those events, Professor Layton started leading a solitary existence, undertaking investigations to clear up all sorts of puzzles and get to the bottom of any mysteries, presumably to fill the gap left in his life by the passing of Claire. The way Level-5’s Akihiro Hino set up the story, though, leaves so much room for manoeuvring in terms of drawing upon various new plot threads. To date there have been three present-day adventures, two stories set in Layton’s past, a movie that ties in with the prequel trilogy of games (with another planned), and a set of three Japanese-only books following his exploits. There are so many facets of Layton’s life, though, and an endless amount of potential mysteries to work through, that the playing field is wide open. Level-5 could stretch the tales in any direction they wish: towards Layton’s son, Alphendi; his adopted daughter, Flora; more tales centred round his days at college with Claire; stories related to Layton’s mentor, Dr. Andrew Schrader; even future adventures where the assistant becomes the master, with Luke Triton taking the lead and Layton offering advice.

Whatever happens, the future is most definitely bright for Professor Layton fans.

Appearances

Professor Layton has been racking up the appearances in just a short time, with practically one new adventure every year, as well as cropping up in special editions of certain mysteries over in Japan (an easier version of Curious Village and a side-story called Holiday in London), starring in his own extra RPG mode developed by Nintendo-owned Brownie Brown (London Life), gracing mobiles phones (a port of Curious Village), and even seeing his son, Alphendi Layton, get a starring role in The Layton Brothers: Mystery Room for iOS devices next year.

However, below are the main releases of the series so far, along with the upcoming Ace Attorney crossover project with Capcom:

  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village (NDS)
  • Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box (NDS)
  • Professor Layton and the Lost Future (NDS)
  • Professor Layton and the Spectre’s Call (NDS)
  • Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (DVD)
  • Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (3DS)
  • Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (3DS, Coming in 2012)

 

Best Appearance

Many games, as with great movies, suffer due to the first entry being so superlative that when it comes round to producing a sequel, or even finishing off a trilogy, everything starts to go wrong. Level-5, though, took on-board any criticism levelled at Professor Layton and the Curious Village and built upon the sturdy foundation to deliver a slightly more solid experience for Pandora’s Box, before delivering the finale to Professor Layton and Luke Triton’s initial trilogy of adventures in spectacular fashion. Professor Layton and the Lost Future not only shored up any small holes in the ship, integrating puzzles into the story in a far smoother manner and adding greater variety to the game in general, but expertly tied together all the plot threads from the previous two games to draw the tale to a very satisfying conclusion that proved to be thoroughly gripping right to the very end.

Do Not Mention...

Don Paolo, also simply known as Paul, is an extremely gifted inventor and a real master of disguise. However, rather than using his abilities for good, as is often the case in stories, he acts as Professor Layton’s nemesis due to his heart being broken due to the love of his life, Claire, choosing Hershel Layton over him. The subject of Claire itself is a sensitive one, with an accident many years ago claiming her life and leaving a feeling of emptiness in Hershel’s heart. It is because of Claire that he wears his top hat all the time; a sign of respecting her memory. There are some twists involving both Don Paolo and Claire, but revealing those would spoil one of the stories!

Level-5 has masterfully developed Professor Layton’s character, taking inspiration from various sources and tweaking him into somewhat of a polished Sherlock Holmes. With his penchant for puzzles, gentlemanly ways, and an almost endless list of talents, Professor Layton has a long and bright future ahead of him, as well as the potential to be used in different genres further down the line. Who knows, we may even see him make a special appearance in the next Smash Bros.!

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Comments

ROB (guest) 10.12.2011#1

"Layton’s brother, Adelphi"

Don't you mean his son? Also, Layton's parents appearently appears in a flashback in Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle.

Smilie Wow, thanks for spotting that glaring error! What makes it even stranger is that in the paragraph following it, I get it perfectly right, stating 'his son, Alphendi'! Not sure what was going through my head...consider it amended now Smilie

I love how the story is opening up to include various new characters, don't you? What's the scene with Layton's parent in all about? Was it just a short clip?

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Reanimated (guest) 11.12.2011#3

Layton rocks! My favourite DS series but hard to get into.

Reanimated (guest) said:
Layton rocks! My favourite DS series but hard to get into.

Which ones have you played? I'm addicted to the games Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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