SparkNotes Blog

The (New) Best Video Game Of All Time

Months ago, we proclaimed Scibblenauts the best video game of all time. But that was waaaay back in September. A lot has changed since then. The weather has gotten colder. We’ve gotten a little older. And a new video game has us jumping up and down screaming, “Best game ever! Best game ever!”

We now decree that Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is the best video game of all time. This Nintendo DS game is a collection of brain teasers framed around a mystery story. It’s like taking a book of difficult puzzles and cramming it into a Sherlock Holmes novel. And the result is a match made in nerdy heaven.

This is actually a sequel to Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and as much as we loved the first game, this one goes above and beyond in terms of head-scratching puzzles and fun, offbeat storylines. You play by guiding Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke through point-and-click scenes using the stylus. Tap a person to talk to him, tap a door to enter a room, etc. As you interact with the surroundings, and tap different characters, you will find various brain teasers. (Note: Poking a person in real life will rarely result in the person offering up a fun puzzle.)

Some of the puzzles are integral to the overall story. For instance, you can’t enter a room without first picking a lock, and the lock is actually a brain teaser. But other puzzles are less story-driven, and exist simply to get your brain working. So if you tap a flower vase, Professor Layton might say, “You know, that reminds me of a puzzle about flowers.” It’s not the smoothest transition, but the goofy way puzzles are incorporated into the story is part of the fun.

We hesitate to spoil any of the fun, but to give you some idea of what to expect, here are a few types of puzzles in the game:

1. Geometry puzzles: You may be asked to fit various shapes in a box, similar to Tetris (but more difficult). Trust us. It’s more fun than we’re making it sound.

2. Word puzzles: You will be given a set of clues and then asked to predict the outcome. But be warned, some of these are trick questions. Before you put in fifteen minutes of brain crunching time, reread the question and clues carefully.

3. Math puzzles: Don’t run away! It’s OK. Really. Stop crying. These puzzles may sound complex, but there’s always a trick to solving them. Put down the calculator and try to think it out.

If you’re still not convinced, head over to and try a demo puzzle. (But the first demo, Puzzle No. 40, is one that gave us a headache. Don’t let it deter you from the game. Just an FYI.)

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box is (now) the best game of all time. As much as we loved Scribblenauts (and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2…OMG! Did you guys see that one part when the missile blew up the astronaut!?!), Professor Layton appeals to our geeky, brainy side. And it probably will make us smarter. So it’s only a matter of time before we control cats with our minds, and then it’s game over for the rest of world. Game over, indeed.

Have you played Professor Layton yet?

Related post: Scribblenauts is the Best Video Game of All Time