Just in case you hadn't noticed, Professor Layton wears a very tall top hat. It's his signature item, the circular headgear-based icon appears on the boxart of all three games in Europe while the Prof himself dons the item on every other nation's cover. Layton wears a hat. It's just one of those things.
Only it isn't. You see, the latest game in the series, Professor Layton and the Lost Future gives us an exact reason for the puzzle-solving ones' need to cover his head 24/7. Never before has such a small thing caused such a large argument here at KN Towers. We know why our hero wears a hat, something we just took for granted. After all, what is a detective without an iconic piece of headgear?
On one hand, it adds to our understanding and relationship of the character. It acts as a far more interesting aside from the main plot than the nonsense about mystic swords and hamsters in the last game and puts an end to all the lazy list-based articles about 'What's under the hat?' we (And just about every other gaming site) feel obliged to put out whenever a new game featuring the Prof and Luke hits the following weeks' launch schedule. We know everything about Layton. We feel almost as if we are Layton as we solve a puzzle.
But is that what we want? Yes, being an Oxford-graduate and card-carrying genius would help in these tough job seeking times and we'd finally be able to give Luke a slap whenever he points out that there's a candlestick on top of that cardboard box. Yes, it adds to the sense of realism in the game. But that's not what Professor Layton is about- The games have a certain atmosphere. A feeling of mystery. An uncertainty of what is coming, yet we feel grounded safely with our Cockney heroes. The sense is given off by the plot details, the art style, the text... It just pours out of every gap. Yet Level-5 is trying to destroy this with a random, trivial piece of knowledge that nobody really, seriously wanted to know.
If that sounds a little dramatic, then you should take note of their next set of Layton-related projects: Not one, not two, not even three but six -count 'em'- prequels to the original Curious Village. We'll find out how Layton met Luke, how he met Luke's mother, ...where he got his current sharp suit... Everything. The entire world wants more Layton and so it is, after all, Level-5's job to sort that out. They're plot-lead games, yes, we appreciate that, but what did we find out about the pair during the first to games? Professor Hershel Layton is a world-famous intellectual known for his puzzle-solving ability. Luke is his junior apprentice. Nothing more needs to be said, and for a brief period, nothing more was.
And it's not like this is the only example. (Or, indeed, a particularly bad example) This article was almost written to coincide with Metroid: Other M's release. Samus Aran is a hard-as-nails bounty hunter. That'll do. We don't even have know it's a woman! All of us here at KN are big fans of deep storylines and epic plots, but not in exchange for liking the characters or the games' (Or, come to think of it, film or TV show) atmosphere.
Director of the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time movie MR MAN recently stated videogames can't do human drama. That is a complete and utter lie. They can make us feel for someone just as well as any film, if not better as we have the added bonds with characters of having to both control them and see them through tough spots ourselves and by lumping us with them for around 10 hours. If we can love someone, human nature suggests we will.
But all that's barking up the wrong tree: The question isn't can, but should. Video Games have you, as said, with a character for a far longer slice of your life. That's approximately nine more hours worth of extra characterisation needed. That's approximately nine more hours worth of random trivia. Nine long hours of game-breaking trivia. We don't care why you wear that hat, Professor Layton. You do, and that's good enough for us.