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Newly appointed Professor Hershel Layton receives a letter from his old friend Clark Triton requesting his assistance with an affair at his current residence, the village of Misthallery. According to the letter, a giant specter appears at night and wreaks havoc on the town. Layton, who immediately finds a secret message hidden in the letter, heads to Misthallery with his new assistant Emmy Altava. Upon arrival, they find not only that Clark was appointed mayor of the village, but also that the person who wrote the letter was actually his son Luke, a solemn-looking young boy who can apparently predict when and where the specter will strike next.
Save for some improvements in interface and presentation, gameplay follows closely that of the previous games and involves mostly exploring the environment and solving a variety of traditional puzzles and riddles.
A new feature unlocks extra scenes the player can watch throughout the game that have no impact on the main storyline but expands on the backgrounds of several minor characters.
As usual, several minigames become available as the player advances through the story. They are:
- Miracle Fish: Layton is put in charge of a group of word-loving fish to investigate. The fish can be fed two-character words, which they manipulate according to set rules. Players are given tasks of increasing complexity requiring them to change one word to another by feeding it to the fish in the correct order. Once the first few tasks are completed, the fish also serve as the game's clue coin detector.
- Miniature Train: Players must lay out tracks on game boards of increasing difficulty that will allow a toy train to go from the starting point to the finish line while passing through every station on the board. Track tiles are limited and stationary as well as moving obstacles must be avoided.
- Puppet Theatre: A group of puppets perform short plays. Players must assist them by choosing suitable actions for them to perform from a growing list collected throughout the game.
North American Release
Nintendo confirmed at E3 2011 that the title will be released in North America under the title "Professor Layton and the Last Specter". However, no date was mentioned.
On August 29, Nintendo confirmed the game would be released on October 17, 2011, and that the Layton London Life RPG would be localized, and come with the game.