Professor Hershel Layton
|Professor Layton character|
Professor Hershel Layton, as he appears in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask.
|First game||Professor Layton and the Curious Village|
|Created by||Akihiro Hino|
|Voiced by (English)||Christopher Robin Miller|
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Yo Oizumi|
Professor Hershel Layton (エルシャール・レイトン教授 Erushāru Reiton-kyōju?) is a fictional character and protagonist of the Professor Layton fictional universe, created by Level-5. Professor Layton is a player character in a series of puzzle adventure video games starting with Professor Layton and the Curious Village and most recently Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, in which he and his apprentice Luke Triton (with his assistant, Emmy Altava, traveling with the two in The Last Specter, Miracle Mask and Azran Legacy) investigate mysteries while solving various brain teasers. He also appears in an animated movie, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, and has featured in manga and novels that have not been released in English.
Professor Layton is based on the idea of an English gentleman, and is a professor of archaeology at the fictional Gressenheller University in London. He was designed by Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino, who used Sherlock Holmes and fellow video game character Phoenix Wright as inspiration for his creation. He is voiced by Yo Oizumi in the original Japanese releases of the series, and by Christopher Robin Miller in English-language releases.
The character of Professor Layton was designed by Akihiro Hino, CEO of Level-5. When designing the game, he thought about what kind of character would make an "interesting lead"; what came to mind was the concept of a famous detective and his assistant, in the manner of Sherlock Holmes. From this idea, he created Professor Layton and his young apprentice, Luke Triton; the English setting of the games was also inspired by these mystery stories. Professor Layton was also derived in part from Phoenix Wright; Hino examined what he believed to be Wright's good and bad points, and designed Layton by overcoming what he saw as Wright's bad points.
The idea to voice the characters, despite the idea being uncommon on the Nintendo DS at that time, came about as a means to attract casual players who had purchased Brain Age but were skeptical about playing other, more complex video games. Level-5 enlisted television personalities to voice characters from the game; Yo Oizumi was chosen to voice Professor Layton within Japan. For English-language releases in the series, Nintendo selected American voice actor Christopher Robin Miller; both have reprised their roles for each successive game in the series as well as the animated movie, with Miller being the only cast member who reprises his role in the games' European releases.
Eighteen years before the events of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Hershel Layton is in college and undergoes an archaeological expedition with his close friend, Randall Ascot. While the two explore the Akbadian ruins, Layton accidentally activated a trap, which led to the presumed death of his best friend. Ten years later, a decade before Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, he meets the love of his life, Claire. Claire gives Layton his top hat as a present just before he becomes a professor of archaeology at Gressenheller University. Immediately following this exchange, however, Claire is killed in an accident involving a time machine. Professor Layton's drive to be a gentleman, and willingness to solve puzzles, come from these two events.
At the start of Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Professor Layton receives a letter from a friend of his, Clark Triton, who asks for help regarding a spectre terrorizing his town of Misthallery at night. On the way to Misthallery, Professor Layton is stopped by Emmy Altava, a 22-year-old woman who has just been hired as his assistant at Gressenheller University. She joins him, and the two proceed to Clark's house, where Clark's 10-year-old son, Luke, tells of the end of the world. Luke sneaks out of his house to assist Professor Layton, and the three of them investigate the spectre, eventually finding it to be an excavation machine created by Jean Descole, a scientist searching for a set of ruins (known as the "Azran Legacies") left by an ancient civilization. In an attempt to stop Descole's attacks on the town, Loosha, an unidentified sea creature, drains the lake at the top of Misthallery by destroying the town's dam, flooding the town and destroying the machines. Within the lake, Professor Layton finds the gate to the Golden Garden, the first of the Legacies, which makes him famous across the world. Following this, Luke Triton asks to become his apprentice; Layton obliges.
In Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Professor Layton is called to the town of Monte d'Or by one of his high school friends, Angela Ledore, to investigate the self-proclaimed Masked Gentleman who has been performing terrifying 'miracles' using the power of the Mask of Chaos. Eventually, Layton deduces that the Masked Gentleman is none other than Randall Ascot, who had fallen to his apparent death in the Akbadian ruins eighteen years prior, but had actually survived (albeit with amnesia). Jean Descole appears, however, and reveals that the Akbadian ruins were the last of the Azran Legacies, and as Professor Layton has solved its mystery, the power of the Azran Civilization would be revived.
In Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, which wraps up the prequel trilogy, he is called to the city of Froenborg by another archaeologist named Desmond Sycamore. This time, he and his companions investigate a 'living mummy' who appears to be a teenage girl named Aurora. He is put in opposition to the organization Targent, led by his biological father Leon Bronev. The later events also reveal the name Descole to be an appropriation of the name Desmond Sycamore, the latter of which is Descole's real identity. In the climax, he remembers that he and Sycamore are brothers, with Layton being the younger one. Also, the human race is put in jeopardy when Bronev's uncompromising attitude unleashes a horde of golems on the world which tear Froenborg apart. However, Layton and his companions are able to stop the golems before any more damage is caused. His original name is revealed to be Theodore Bronev: however, he has no attachment to that name. He has expressed a desire to get to know Leon Bronev better someday.
In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Layton and Luke are called by Lady Dahlia of St. Mystere to investigate the will of the deceased baron, who had mentioned an artifact named the Golden Apple for whom the bearer would be entitled his entire fortune. They slowly manage to unearth the truth about the strange village, but they find that the only person who can show them the apple is none other than the baron's daughter, Flora Reinhold, who had been hidden away in the village for years as part of the baron's plan to find someone smart and kind enough to take care of her. Layton obliges, and takes the girl under his wing, leaving St. Mystere.
In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Layton and Luke take the Molentary Express in an effort to find out what was responsible for the temporary coma of his teacher, Dr. Andrew Schrader, who was found "dead" in his office with nothing but a train ticket without a destination, and the artifact he was investigating, the Elysian Box, missing. This was proven to have been taken by Don Paolo, earlier at the start of the game, before Dr Schrader was found. The two of them, later joined by Flora, go to the towns of Dropstone and Folsense, eventually finding the true purpose of the Elysian Box and reuniting a long-broken family.
Finally, in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, which wraps up the original trilogy, Layton and Luke attend a demonstration of a 'time machine', a failed experiment that leads to the disappearance of both the lead scientist and the prime minister, Bill Hawks. A week later, the two of them receive a letter purported to be from Luke himself, ten years into the future, in dire need of assistance, and they are asked to go to a clock shop on the edge of town. When they leave it, they find themselves in the future London. They meet with a woman who claims to be Claire's sister, Celeste, trying to piece together what had actually happened to Claire. However, unbeknownst to the people, there is a giant mechanism hidden just under the city, capable of destroying London. With the help of Don Paolo (aka Paul), Celeste, and Inspector Chelmey, they successfully deactivate the weapon and manage to return to the present, where Layton finally comes to term with the loss of Claire and takes off his hat for her out of respect. Luke's father, having been transferred, is forced to move, and the game ends with Luke saying goodbye to Layton, hoping to remain good friends and hands him the final puzzle.
In other video games
Several spin-off titles have been released for the series featuring the character, including social network game Professor Layton Royale and Nintendo 3DS title Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. In the latter, Professor Layton teams up with Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney series to solve mysteries in Labyrinthia, a medieval town emphasizing "witch trials". Though Professor Layton does not appear in the iOS title Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, the game focuses on his son, Alfendi Layton (アルフェンディ・レイトン Arufendi Reiton?), who is a renowned detective for Scotland Yard and works in the eponymous Mystery Room with his assistant Lucy Baker (ルーシー・クレイラ Rūshī Kureira?) to solve crimes.
In other media
Professor Layton is featured heavily in Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, an animated movie based on the series that takes place between Last Specter and Miracle Mask. In Eternal Diva, Professor Layton goes to the fictional Crown Petone opera house and is tricked into solving puzzles in a contest to win an alleged Elixir of Eternal Life. Though the Elixir is proven to be a scheme by Jean Descole to unearth the second of the Azran Legacies, the lost kingdom of Ambrosia, Professor Layton is the one who ultimately unlocks the city by discovering and playing a Song of the Sun, along with two other harmonious melodies.
Aside from Eternal Diva, Professor Layton has also appeared in manga and in novels. The manga, Reiton-kyōju to Yukai na Jiken (レイトン教授とユカイな事件?, Lit. "Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery"), is mainly directed toward children and features characters Luke and Flora trying to answer such mysteries as "what is under Professor Layton's hat"? Three volumes have been released, but none of them in English.
The three novels based on the series prominently feature Professor Layton, though, like the manga, they have not been released outside of Japan. Reiton-kyōju to Samayoeru Shiro (レイトン教授とさまよえる城?, Lit. "Professor Layton and the Wandering Castle") takes place during the original trilogy of games, in which Professor Layton and company try to solve the mystery of a floating castle believed to contain the people who had recently vanished from the city of London. The second and third books, Reiton-kyōju to Kaijin Goddo (レイトン教授と怪人ゴッド?, Lit. "Professor Layton and the Phantom Deity") and Reiton-kyōju to Gen'ei no Mori (レイトン教授と幻影の森?, Lit. "Professor Layton and the Illusory Forest"), take place during the prequel trilogy. Kaijin Goddo has Professor Layton investigating a series of art thefts performed by the eponymous "Phantom Deity"; Gen'ei no Mori has him exploring a strange village within the "Forest of Illusion" in search of his assistant, Emmy, who has been kidnapped.
Reception and legacy
Nintendo Power said that Professor Layton was one of their favorite new characters during their 2008 award, with writer Justin Cheng saying that Curious Village's characters, especially Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke, were a reason why the game was so memorable and engaging. GameSpot has referred to him as the "Sherlock Holmes of puzzles", and said that his voice acting was "welcome and familiar". In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as the 33rd best hero in video games, saying Layton proves "that there's more to being a hero than brute strength". GamesRadar further placed him at number 22 in a list of the 50 best game characters of the generation. UGO Networks placed Layton first on their list of "The Coolest Helmets and Headgear in Video Games". Similary, Game Pro included him in a list of "The 17 Best Pieces of Headwear in Gaming", placing Layton 15th.
The character has met some criticism, as well. Various publications, including Eurogamer, state that his accompaniment of Luke is "mildly troubling". Cracked columnist Luke McKinney listed Professor Layton as third in a list of eight archaeologists who are not good at their job, saying that most of his conclusions are impossible to believe.
Since the release of Curious Village, Professor Layton has been compared with several new characters from later titles, including Henry Hatsworth (of EA Tiburon's Nintendo DS title Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure) and Doctor Lautrec (of Konami's Nintendo 3DS title Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights). Noriaka Okimura, the person who designed Doctor Lautrec, stated that, while inspired by Layton, it was not his intention to make the two look alike; he felt it would be awkward for a 19th-century gentleman to not be wearing a hat like Layton's. Kyle Gray, creator of Henry Hatsworth, was more aggressive, stating that Henry Hatsworth is the man you'd call to "save the world from an impending collision with an alternate dimension", while Professor Layton is the sort of person to call "if you need someone to find your missing cat.".
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