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feihong

Chinese Game Review: Sloane and McHale's Mysterious Story 2 斯隆与马克海尔的谜之物语2

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feihong

Platform(s): Nintendo DS (you can also play it in an emulator on almost any platform)

Where to buy: You can't buy it, it's an unofficial translation of the Japanese game, so you have to search for the Chinese name and you can download it from one of many ROM sites

Release Date: September 3, 2009

Chinese Level Required: HSK5+, I guess. But it's playable even if you aren't close to that level, as the game lets you read the text as slowly as you want.

Languages: Chinese (simplified characters)

Chinese voices/dub: It's based on the Japanese version, so the narration is all in Japanese

 

I started playing this game years ago, but it wasn't until the pandemic hit that I decided to actually finish it. I'm glad that I did, it's actually pretty good for Chinese practice. Maybe better than almost all other games out there, but that that may be because it's barely a game at all. At its heart, this is a collection of lateral thinking puzzles with an interactive hint system. For a glorified puzzle book, it has great production values. All of the puzzles are presented as a few sentences, and your job is tease out the solution by forming questions. To do this, you tap on keywords and then link them together to form yes/no questions that the game will answer with yes, no, or irrelevant. Gameplay continues until you figure out what's going on and take a short multiple choice quiz to prove it. Once you correctly answer all the questions on the quiz, you've beaten the puzzle and can proceed to the next one. If you want to understand how it works in practice, I recommend you watch a video of the tutorial level: https://youtu.be/GK5NyOER9-Y 

 

Some of the puzzles are too easy, and others are kind of lame, but with 80 puzzles in total there are probably at least a few you'll like. There's a huge variety in the puzzle scenarios, so you will encounter a lot of new vocabulary unless your Chinese is at a very high level. In practice, you do not need to be good at lateral thinking puzzles or puzzles in general to play this game. You can ask as many questions as you like, and if you aren't asking questions with revealing answers, the game will actually start suggesting them to you. You can beat every puzzle fairly just by understanding everything that you read. Generally, it took me about 5-15 minutes to solve each puzzle, but it highly depends on your reading speed. In many cases, you don't really need to do much more than read the description and go right into the quiz if all you want to do is move forward. If you want to use it to practice your reading, as I did, you can ask a few more questions before moving to the quiz. As I said, it's barely a game, so there are no points and no overarching story to tie it all together. Because the game doesn't give you a lot of inherent incentives to progress, I didn't play this game for long stretches of time. Instead, I would try to play it about once or twice a day.

 

This game is more than ten years old, so it runs great in emulators. If you have an Android phone whose screen isn't too small, it's very easy to play because the interface is completely touch-based (just hide the on-screen controls because they'll get in the way of the text). I personally recommend the DraStic DS Emulator on Android, and OpenEmu on Mac. One of the problems with this game is that it's old enough to be using an aliased font that can take a bit of getting used to. This is mostly unavoidable, I think, since the DS just didn't have a high resolution screen. But there's almost nothing else like it on newer game systems.

 

More video game reviews

 

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feihong

I almost forgot to mention that I encountered an annoying glitch after beating level 70. After you beat that level, you see some comments from the master of ceremonies, then the game saves, and then Anna (the hint mascot) appears. This is where the game suddenly freezes. To get around it, all you have to do is restore from your last save point, and right when the game saves, pause and restart the game. After you restart, load the game from the save point and just proceed as normal.

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StChris

Thanks for the review. The game sounds really suitable for Chinese learning. It looks to be a spin-off of the Professor Layton series - did they ever get Chinese releases?

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feihong

This game is made by Level 5, the same studio that made the Layton games! Supposedly, the first Layton game got an official Chinese release just this year: https://www.taptap.com/app/165185

 

However, it’s not in the US App Store nor the US Google Play Store. Supposedly on Android you can download it from something called the TapTap store, which I’ve never heard of before.

 

Update: I installed TapTap on my Android phone, but it didn’t present me with any way to purchase apps. I don’t think you can do it without a Chinese payment method. Meanwhile, it is possible to find and download the unofficial Chinese translation of the first Layton DS game.

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StChris
3 hours ago, feihong said:

Meanwhile, it is possible to find and download the unofficial Chinese translation of the first Layton DS game

 

Thanks, it looks like the unofficial translation may be the only option for me.

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Mijin

I couldn't find the Chinese version on any ROM sites. 
Is it possible (within forum rules?) to post a link? Or a hint?

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feihong

@Mijin Are you checking dedicated ROM sites directly or just looking at the pages returned from a google search for the Chinese name?

 

The main reason I don’t want to post a link is that links to pages where you can download ROMs go stale really easily. Also, I bet most or all of these sites will try to put spyware or malware onto your computer. Please take the necessary precautions (e.g. never run any executables downloaded from a Chinese site).


I will note that, as of this writing, the best site to download Chinese language NDS ROMs in North America seems to be rendiyu.com. Don’t count on that being true for very long.

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feihong

Just finished the unofficial Chinese version of the first Professor Layton game, and wrote up a review here: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/60446-chinese-game-review-professor-layton-and-the-curious-village-雷顿教授与不可思议的小镇/. In comparison, the dialogue text in Layton is much, much easier than the text in this game. But the puzzle description text is harder if you're not used to "math problem" style text.

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