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Doctor Lautrec and the forgotten knights: Cheap knock off or excellent homage?

Professor Layton and the impending lawsuit...

Professor Layton has dealt with kidnappings, vampires and time travel. Let's see how he handles identity theft. Doctor Lautrec, famed archaeologist, solves mysteries with his child assistant. 'Brazen' is one word for it. 'WhatwhatWHAAAAAT?!' is another. Come on, look at that hat: brown with a red band. What kind of millinery villainery is this? Either way, Lautrec is lucky Layton is too gentlemanly to box his ears.

Or perhaps Lautrec is deliberately intended as parody. Compared to prim and proper Hershel, Jean-Pierre Lautrec is a total wretch, despised by the academic community for cheating his way through puzzles.

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Physically, he's the unholy offspring of Layton and Dick Dastardly, his moustache primed for hot twirling action. In a nice twist, his female companion, Sophie Coubertin, is not some tagalong idoliser, but more of a babysitter, keeping Lautrec in check. And we doubt Luke would look quite as good in pantaloons.

Konami give their down-and-dirty Layton-alike a down-and-dirtier adventure. His quest is motivated by treasure, specifically a map that puts him in a race against an evil crime gang. Like a slightly less curvy Lara Croft (although he does have womanly ankles) he raids tombs in dungeon segments, dashing about 3D landscapes and making Layton look like the lazy static sprite he really is.

Combat also plays a part, albeit ignoring the Queensberry rules in favour of battling Sprites - demon-like creatures levelled up in RPG style. Of course, it wouldn't be a Layton rip-off without ripping off the puzzles that made his name. Here Doctor Lautrec aims to have fun with the 3D screen.

You'll be able to scrutinise dusty relics in full rotate-o-3D, for example, prying them apart for clues. Elsewhere you can zoom in and poke about in 3D landscapes. Konami didn't have much luck with their last Layton clone - the poorly received Zack And Ombra - so it's good that they're not branching out from Layton's riddle-based play.

Consider also the release date. With 3DS Layton a long time off in the UK (it's technically Layton 5 and we're only on 3), it'll be good to have something to fill the Layton-shaped hole come summer. The hole needn't be filled so exactly, but it needs filling nonetheless.

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