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Video Game / Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box

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The second game in the Professor Layton Widget Series.

In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (Pandora's Box in PAL regions), Layton receives a letter from his mentor, Dr Schrader, in which Schrader says that he had acquired the legendary Elysian Box that is said to kill all who open it. Though Layton gets a bad feeling and rushes to his mentor's aid, Schrader is already dead and the box is missing. The only clue is a ticket for the mysterious Molentary Express, so Layton and Luke decide to take a trip with no known destination.

Please place series spanning tropes on the main Professor Layton page.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alice and Bob: By now the series has its own cast of 4-5 no-name characters for practically every hypothetical puzzle situation, the most prominent one being the brown-haired mustachioed, Mario-ish looking man. Their names are finally revealed in the 3rd to last puzzle, Colin's Grade.
  • All for Nothing: When Luke acquires the hamster, it opens the hamster minigame in which he has to exercise the pudgy little beast until he's "fit and sassy!" (in the hamster's words). The end credits and the hamster's profile show that the hamster has been returned to his rightful owner, the Molentary Express cook, and is once again overfed. Probably a form of Gameplay and Story Segregation, since the hamster game is optional and therefore some players could easily end the game without getting the hamster in shape at all.
  • Artifact of Death: The eponymous Elysian Box is rumored to kill anyone who opens it. Near the end of the game, it's revealed that its notoriously lethal fame is the reason why it's so fatal. The box is made from a material that releases powerful hallucinogenic fumes, making people experience what they believe. Since most people expect death to befall them when they open the box, that's exactly what happens. Layton and Luke survive because they were skeptical of its reputation.
  • Artistic License Geology: The mystery of the town of Folsense revolves around the miners striking a "vein of hallucinogenic gas" that caused them to all be susceptible to suggestion. Needless to say, no such thing exists in real life. Not to mention, the mine in question is a gold mine in England.
  • Badass Longcoat: Young Anton's coat definitely qualifies even leading many to think that he's a vampire probably because of that collar.
  • Barely-Changed Dub Name: Anthony Herzen was changed into Anton Herzen in the North American translation.
  • Big Eater: One puzzle has Layton try to remember what the Molentary Express dining car bill came to. Apparently, Luke racked up twice the price of Layton's meal from all the food he ate, which Layton comments on. This also provides a hint to which items Luke ordered, as it's all the large dishes and the tall soft drink compared to Layton's cup of tea and small mild dishes.
  • Bishōnen: My, but isn't younger, hallucinated Anton pretty!
  • Captain Obvious: Some of the puzzle commentaries given when you complete puzzles fall into this trope. For example, puzzle 35:
    That's right!
    This is one of those puzzles where you need to use the given conditions to deduce the answer.
  • Clueless Mystery: There's no way to solve the mystery until you receive the answer, since doing so requires several ludicrous assumptions. Sammy, Beluga, Katia, Luke, and Layton are all hallucinating the same things, with a power of suggestion so strong that even the insides of buildings that they've never seen before are affected. And that simply having heard rumors of people dying can actually kill you through tiny traces of hallucinogenic chemicals from 50 years ago.
  • Cool Train: The Molentary Express, described as like a cruise ship on rails.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Folsense owed its massive prosperity to a gold mine owned by the Herzen family, but recently the miners found something else. They thought they could refine it into something valuable, except soon the residents started dropping like flies. People started leaving the city in droves, calling it "cursed" and attributing it to this mysterious new mineral.
  • Dances and Balls: Layton and Luke get to go to the mysterious town of Folsense, where they find an old diary written by Anton, the current Duke of the town. The first entry reveals that Anton has fallen for Sophia, a woman he met in a ball. Later in the game, Layton and Luke get to see the actual ball itself, albeit in the form of a nightmare.
  • Death by Childbirth: Katia's mother died shortly after giving birth to her, as revealed in Sophia's letter to Anton at the end.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Sophia is very happy to see Anton and Katia getting along. Happy enough to smile serenely down from the heavens, in fact.
  • Dug Too Deep: The gold miners of Folsense discovered a metal that released toxic, hallucinogenic gas.
  • Eldritch Location: The town of Folsense could be considered this as it's essentially a phantom town which was marked off the map decades back, but appears to be alive thanks to the mysterious gas that leaks from the nearby abandoned mines.
    • Additionally, there are tall buildings present in the scenery that would be impossible in retrospect due to map placement.
  • Evil Overlooker: Anton on the box art. Technically, he isn't evil, though.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Don Paolo exits the story pursued by Inspector Chelmey following his unmasking. In the closing credits, the chase is still going on.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Anton cuts a chain holding the chandelier during his Villainous Breakdown, causing the chandelier to fall. Although it doesn't kill anyone, it does lead to the Herzen Mansion collapsing.
  • Fan Disservice: Anton is a youthful Bishōnen whose attire includes a high ruffled collar shirt and a badass black long coat with a High Collar of Doom, and he has wavy shoulder-length blonde hair, fair skin, Icy Blue Eyes, and a deep voice to match. When he comes across a young lady, he asks "Sophia" to come to him in an intensely romantic fashion, saying that he always waited for her to come back. However, it's intentionally unappealing due to the fact that he is mistaking Katia, the Identical Granddaughter of Sophia, for the lost fiancée he waited for. The revelation that Katia is his own granddaughter makes it even worse.
  • Feelies: A Molentary Express ticket is included in the instruction booklet. It's also a copy of one of the in-game puzzles. The feelie's not required to solve the said puzzle, but it can help to have an object to physically manipulate rather than trying to picture it in your head.
  • Flanderization: While being a gentleman was an overarching theme of Curious Village, Layton can't go three lines without spouting some gentleman nonsense in Diabolical Box; it's even one of his catchphrases when he gets a puzzle right.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The town name of Folsense. (If one has knowledge of French, the name comes out as faux-sense, which essentially means 'False Sense', which makes sense when you realize that the inhabitants of the town are mere illusions brought about by a hallucinogenic gas leak!) Even the actual name sounds a bit like "False Sense" / "Fool Sense". It's even called that by Sammy, the train guard.
    • There's also one to a plot point in the next game. While in Folsense, a bouncer outside a restaurant tells Layton that he has to take off his hat if he wants to enter because of the dress code. Layton refuses to, stating that a true gentleman never removes his hat. It seems Layton has the wrong idea since, normally, people would say the gentleman is required to take his hat off while indoors. However, players who play the sequel, Unwound/Lost Future, find out that this is just what he says as to not raise questions about the real reason, which is revealed in flashbacks in that game.
    • When you complete the camera, you're able to take pictures with it. The fact that it's finished by the time you reach Folsense, coupled with the fact that the images it produces are slightly different from what is seen, suggests there is more to the town than meets the eye.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the flashback to when she left Anton, Sophia is briefly seen putting her hands over her stomach. Their granddaughter, Katia, reveals to him that she left him to protect their unborn child.
  • Frictionless Ice: Three puzzles near the end of the game.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Near the end of the game, Layton refuses to leave the Herzen castle until he's uncovered the truth behind Dr Schrader's death and the Elysian Box. Absolutely nothing prevents you from strolling right through the front doors and going back to solve any puzzles you may have missed along the way.
    • When you find all the photograph pieces, it becomes a puzzle (of course), with 6x4 pieces. The image of the actual box is neatly divided into four pieces down the centre. However, when the story requires one piece to blow away, it is suddenly a very different piece, dead centre in the image, for the sake of a plot point. Also, the scraps look very different in the following cutscenes.
  • Guide Dang It!: Figuring out the correct combination of three teas out of eight (including repeats) is nearly impossible on the first try from the characters' usually incomplete instructions. Doing it on the first try is necessary because if you give the NPC a cup they don't like, they won't even want tea anymore for a while.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: Anton exhibits a variation of this during his swordfight with Layton, where steam emanates from his body.
  • Homage: Watch the scene as the trio arrives at Folsense after watching Spirited Away.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Don Paolo tips off his identity and involvement in the case by revealing that he knows what the image on the Elysian Box is, despite apparently only having seen a photo with a crucial piece missing.
  • Identical Grandson: Katia and her grandmother, Sophia. The only notable difference between them is Katia's eyes, which she clearly inherited from Anton. It's the sight of them that makes him realize she's telling the truth.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all his bluster towards his employees, Mr. Beluga shows at several points in the game to be capable of compassion. He seems mournful remembering that it had been a year since Sophia passed away, and Sam mentions that Beluga had a soft spot for his older brother, Anton, whom he left behind to escape his father's selfish ways. In the closing credits, he is shown to be very happy to see Anton again.
  • Latex Perfection: Don Paolo is somehow able to impersonate Flora without arousing suspicion. The characters' height, build, and voices don't match at all.
  • Leitmotif: "Iris: Box of Happiness", the closing theme, gets played on a music box in-game.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Anton challenges Layton to a Sword Fight, and being the good sport that he is, gives Layton a free choice of the swords on the wall. It's actually a trick as all the swords are Ornamental Weapons; Layton figures out that the clue Anton gives about a "true warrior" keeping his sword in hand means to grab a sword off a nearby suit of armor. The ensuing fight provides a rare glimpse of Layton's status as an excellent fencer in a series that focuses far more on his intellectual side.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Puzzle No. 34 shows 5 trees in a row. The question is which two trees are furthest from each other. All five seem to be equally separated at first glance, but the solution is lateral thinking: the ones in the far ends. No one says that the trees you're asked about must be adjacent.
    • Puzzle No. 37 features a pro golfer who can putt exactly a number of distances (3, 5, 7 and 11 feet). The puzzle asks you what's the minimum number of putts he needs to sink the ball when he's 20 feet away from the hole. It can only be solved by assuming the golfer putts diagonally 11 and 11. After all, no one said all putts have to be directed at the hole.
    • Puzzle No. 74 requires you to use two corks to plug up a maze of twisting passages ensure that the smell of the garlic does not reach the person's nose. A careful examination of the puzzle reveals that you would need three corks to block all the holes, so you instead put them over the person's nostrils.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • In the Japanese version, Mr. Anderson is stated to be the Earl of Dropstone. The English translation removes this part.
    • In the Japanese version, Anton's father is the Earl of Folsense, and near the end of the game, Layton says he was the Marquess of Folsense. However, in the English translation, he is the Duke of Folsense through and through.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: Surprisingly averted. Although Sophia, a British noblewoman, had an illegitimate child with her fiancée, Anton, no one is bothered by her sexual history, not to mention her unlockable profile reveals that "kind and honest, she was loved by all".
  • Mister Muffykins: On the Molentary Express, Rich Bitch Babette throws a tantrum because her precious little boy Tom is missing. She demands that Layton, Luke, and Chelmey all search for him, but thanks to her misleading Insistent Terminology, it's some time before they realize they're looking not for a child but for a dog.
  • Mushroom Samba: The glitzy, modern town of Folsense is a shared hallucination induced by gas emanating from the gold mine.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: When Professor Layton and Luke arrive at the Herzen Mansion, Anton has dinner and makes idle chit-chat with them before showing them to their rooms. He then ties them up in his basement.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: The music box version of "Iris - Box of Happiness -" plays during The Reveal. In this case, the music isn't the symbolic part, it's the Elysian Box itself, which finally fulfills its original purpose of carrying a message from Anton to Sophia and back. Of course, it's less on the nostalgia and more on the what could've been. The original version of the track is used a few minutes later for the end credits.
  • Pet Interface: If you beat the hamster minigame, he points out hint coins for you.
  • Point of No Return: Averted from a gameplay perspective; see Gameplay and Story Segregation above. The endgame doesn't start until you talk to Katia. You can't visit Dropstone or the Molentary Express again once you do, though.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Sophia left Anton and Folsense for someone she loved who needed her even more than him, leading him to believe that she betrayed him. In actuality, she did so to protect their unborn child from the toxic, hallucinogenic gas that plagued Folsense.
  • Red Light District: Would you believe there's one of these in the game? Layton and Luke catch the owner of the Molentary Express, Mr. Beluga, walking into a cabaret and attempting to converse with the woman standing outside. Not only is she one of the show-runners, but she hits on Luke (who's only twelve) after hitting on Layton. Also, there's a cop standing outside the area (which has red lighting on the map) who refuses to let the young boy in so the player has to go the long way around.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma:
    Wurtzer: How she [Granny Riddleton] does it is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma-stuffed mystery. Or, y'know, a mystendrum.
  • Say My Name: Anton, during the duel. "LAAAAYTON!"
  • Saying Too Much: In the summation, the guilty party correctly describes the design on the Elysian Box, which they should never have seen before, giving up their true identity.
  • Scenery Gorn: The brief shots of the ruined Folsense at the end.
  • Scenery Porn: The glitzy, modern town of Folsense, and even more so the castle interior.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: A cow breeder kicks up a fuss about his cow being swapped and delays the Dropstone livestock competition. After Luke determines that his and another cow decided to swap places for laughs which placates him, he then loses to his main rival, whose cow was the one he got angry at for not being his. The rival even lampshades the situation, as if he had not said anything, he could've won.
  • Shared Mass Hallucination: It's the explanation for the entire second half of the game. The game uses the "expectations" justification by having photos of the town set up at the train station. Since all the main characters get to the town by way of the train, they all see the photos so they all see the same thing. Presumably, any varying details aren't worth talking about. This is also the justification for why the box is able to kill people. It has a little bit of the gas in it, so anyone who opens it expecting to die, will.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the very first cutscene, we see the Triforce in the rose Flora is wearing.
    • The Sword Puzzle near the end feels like a Shout-Out to the final test in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • Anton looks remarkably like a cartoonish version of Alucard from the Castlevania games. The resemblance is enhanced by the fact that most characters think he's a vampire. His English voice actor must have realized this because his voice is also similar to Alucard's in the original version of Symphony of the Night.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Gender-Inverted. Anton comments in his diary that he suffered a Friendless Background because of his status as the elder son of Duke Herzen. He eventually fell in love with Sophia because she treated him as a genuine human being.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Or rather, Slippy-Slidey Ice Puzzles. Crossing the frozen lake to reach the Duke's castle requires solving puzzles in which you slide a miniature Professor around a sort of maze.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The forest is described and depicted as very creepy and foreboding, but the music that plays over it (The Dark Forest) is a very calm and soothing tune that does not fit the location at all.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Sophia left her fiancé, Anton, to protect their unborn child from the toxic, hallucinogenic gas that plagued Folsense. Unfortunately, he learns from his granddaughter, Katia, that both she and her child died before him. Fortunately, he also learns from Katia that his fiancée never betrayed him.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Layton is trying to learn about the titular artifact, the Elysian Box. He inquires with Kostya, one resident of Dropstone, who replies: "Oh, dear! I mean...I've never heard anything about that dreadful, dreadful thing!"
  • Sword Fight: Anton challenges Layton to a sword fight out of his misunderstanding that Layton stole his fiancée. That was the only weapon available since only 2 swords out of the many in the room (including Anton's) it occurs in are real.
  • Take a Third Option: You have three holes, and have two corks that you must use to completely block off the odour of garlic. Where do they go? In your nose.
  • Thriller on the Express: The first part of the game is set on the Molentary Express, through the mystery is more about the train's destination than the train itself.
  • Title Drop: The last of the secret puzzles is called "The Diabolical Box", being an especially difficult block-pushing puzzle.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Not only does the good professor go on at length throughout the series about his love for a good tea, but in Diabolical Box, it turns into a gameplay mechanic.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Making the various tea recipes. Figuring out what to give to people involves logic, but is simple to figure out if you have the recipes.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Anton does not take the news that his beloved Sophia has passed away very well.
  • Voice of the Legion: When the ruse is revealed, the culprit speaks in both characters' voices until the disguise is dramatically pulled away.
  • Wall of Weapons: Subverted. As one of the puzzles, Anton tells Layton to choose the only real sword from a wall of ornamental swords.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Parcelle, the mailman. The characters wonder aloud why he makes a daily mail run between Folsense and Dropstone, but, nope! It never gets explained. Also, Folsense is pretty much a ghost town, so who is he delivering mail to?
    • Are the inhabitants of Folsense real or not? They seem to get mail, and they drop hints about feeling old, but then again, they never appear after the reveal or in the credits sequence except for Nigel.
  • Yandere: Anton actively tries to kill Layton after misunderstanding the situation and thinking the Professor stole "his Sophia". Justified in that the last fifty years left him lonely and in great despair, plus the hallucination factor is probably enhancing his Sanity Slippage.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The town of Folsense is a massive hallucination caused by the hallucinogenic gas that makes people experience what they expect in the town's mine. Luke and Layton had seen pictures of Folsense as it was 50 years ago beforehand, and so perceived it that way when they got there. Truth was, it was pretty decrepit. The Elysian Box has elements of the gas in it and otherwise really is just a box, and it only kills people because they're expecting it to. Dr Schrader is implied to have survived because he didn't really believe it would kill him. The box has no effect on Luke and Layton because they are already hallucinating.

Alternative Title(s): Professor Layton And Pandoras Box