Back at GDC we sat down with the guys from 99 Games who showed us an early build of The Jim and Frank Mysteries - The Blood River Files [99¢] which has since been picked up by Chillingo and arrived on the App Store. If you've played a Professor Layton game on the Nintendo DS before, The Jim and Frank Mysteries is a shockingly competent Layton lookalike with the professor and his sidekick Luke replaced by Jim and Frank, a team of teenage boys sent off on a quest by their grandfather as part of an odd 15th birthday celebration ritual.

Gameplay is identical to that of the Layton games in that Jim and Frank set out on a strange adventure, moving from screen to screen, talking to the various inhabitants of the game world, and solving 60 unique puzzles. Instead of the "hint coins" found in Professor Layton, Jim and Frank have "eurekas" which are similarly hidden in the game world and are collected by tapping on them. These eurekas are used as an in-game currency of sorts, which explains why Jim and Frank's adventure only costs a buck.

If you get stuck on a puzzle, you're able to unlock hints which will only cost you one of your eurekas for the first hint, and an additional eureka for the second. If you're still stumped, you can skip a puzzle entirely at the cost of many more eurekas. Of the two puzzles I've tried to skip, the first one would cost 15 with 20 required to skip the second. Aside from finding them in the game world, eurekas are currently available as an in-app purchase with 30 for 99¢, 75 for $1.99, and 120 for $2.99. Of course, if you're good at puzzle games, these are entirely optional and you could complete the entire game without burning a single eureka.

The included puzzles are your standard array of math and logic puzzles which you've undoubtedly encountered before somewhere, either in various childhood brain teaser books, similar video games, and other places. Old standbys such as figuring out how to separate liquid to a certain amount using three differently sized containers, sliding puzzles of all types, mazes, map puzzles, and others are all there. I've yet to come across a puzzle type that felt unique to this game, but as a veteran of the Layton series, that doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Mixed amongst the puzzles are several different mini games. For instance, the first one begins when you come across a creepy old man in the middle of the woods who needs help chopping wood. Naturally, this team of teenage boys fulfill the old man's desires and begin chopping away in a reaction-based mini game where you tap the screen to chop as a log scrolls from right to left. These mini games are fairly simple, but serve to offer an even wider variety to the things Jim and Frank will need to do on their adventure.

Jim and Frank includes some limited voice overs, which take over during important parts of the game. The whole beginning of your adventure is narrated, and as far as iPhone game voice work is concerned, it really isn't half bad. The story is silly as you would expect, with dialog that often left me raising an eyebrow. When we talked to 99 Games back at GDC, they seemed excited for the Jim and Frank Mysteries to continue past this first installment, so with any luck there will be many more mysteries for the teenage duo to unravel in the future.

Regardless of how you feel about the incredible similarities between The Jim and Frank Mysteries and Professor Layton games, we'll likely never see Layton on the iPhone, so a highly "inspired" game is just as good in my book. The amount of content included in Jim and Frank borders on ridiculous at its current launch price of a dollar. With hours and hours of gameplay (99 Games claims over 20), 60 puzzles, 8 mini games, and a cast of nearly 30 characters, this isn't a game you should miss.

Sure, it would be easy to get wound up over the in app purchases to buy eurekas, but these are entirely optional especially since it wouldn't surprise me if the Jim and Frank thread on our forums quickly turned in to a great place to go for when you get stuck in game.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Colbertj

    This one seems like a no-brainer to me...

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Well, it's probably a good idea to have a brain available once you're actually playing the game ;).

      • Eli Hodapp

        lmao

    • crude

      this is giving me a total clue...

      Mmm yea my clue is pointing this way..

      Oh now I've got a raging clue..

  • Colbertj

    This one seems like a no-brainer to me...

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Well, it's probably a good idea to have a brain available once you're actually playing the game ;).

      • Eli Hodapp

        lmao

    • crude

      this is giving me a total clue...

      Mmm yea my clue is pointing this way..

      Oh now I've got a raging clue..

  • sdfsadf

    hm it is a shame that you can't turn back.....

    • Jack

      I agree. I hate how you can't go back to spots you visited to collect more eurekas.

  • sdfsadf

    hm it is a shame that you can't turn back.....

    • Jack

      I agree. I hate how you can't go back to spots you visited to collect more eurekas.

  • Brandon

    I'm having fun...

  • Brandon

    I'm having fun...

  • http://www.99games.in 99Games

    Thanks for taking a look at the game Hodapp. :) We've received a positive response from the TA beta testers of the game and can't wait to hear the feedback from others. Along with the puzzles, Jim and Frank Mysteries has 8 tasks that include potion brewing, flower picking, nugget nabbing, bat hunting etc and 2 mini-games that involve solving word jumble and putting together pieces of a portrait.

    At its current launch price, the game should be an instabuy for the fans of the puzzle-adventure genre and a great opportunity for the rest to try out the game!

    Cheers!!! :)

  • http://www.99games.in 99Games

    Thanks for taking a look at the game Hodapp. :) We've received a positive response from the TA beta testers of the game and can't wait to hear the feedback from others. Along with the puzzles, Jim and Frank Mysteries has 8 tasks that include potion brewing, flower picking, nugget nabbing, bat hunting etc and 2 mini-games that involve solving word jumble and putting together pieces of a portrait.

    At its current launch price, the game should be an instabuy for the fans of the puzzle-adventure genre and a great opportunity for the rest to try out the game!

    Cheers!!! :)

  • Some guy

    lol the characters look like harry potter and ron weasley

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Only if you think that every kid with glasses looks like Harry Potter and every red head kid looks like Ron Weasley. Otherwise, not so much.

      • vulture3

        Nope. He's right. My confirmation makes your last comment null and void.

        Harry and Ron's Lame Weaksaucepants Mysteries.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        And who the hell are you? Some guy, perhaps?

      • Some guy

        roflmao nope. we're completely different people.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I sure hope that neither of you are ever asked to pick someone from a line up.

      • K

        Horrid quality, but incredibly appropriate for these comments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jopstEt1kQ

    • http://soiled.com Gload

      Sorry but purposely pairing up a glasses wearing brunette boy with a ginger is an obvious reference to Harry Potter. The artwork is really crappy though. It's not crappy like South Park funny, it's just bad artwork.

      Gameplay is decent but the are plenty of flaws that need to be worked out (as have been covered already).

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        Since time immemorial, smart, studious boys have been shown wearing glasses, while red heads are meant to be adventurous and impulsive. These stereotypes fit the characters to a T; it's also narrative 101 to pair up two characters with opposite personalities. It has nothing to do with Harry Potter; only the most superficial observer would think it does.

        As to the artwork, just because it's not to your taste it doesn't mean it's crappy.

  • Some guy

    lol the characters look like harry potter and ron weasley

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Only if you think that every kid with glasses looks like Harry Potter and every red head kid looks like Ron Weasley. Otherwise, not so much.

      • vulture3

        Nope. He's right. My confirmation makes your last comment null and void.

        Harry and Ron's Lame Weaksaucepants Mysteries.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        And who the hell are you? Some guy, perhaps?

      • Some guy

        roflmao nope. we're completely different people.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I sure hope that neither of you are ever asked to pick someone from a line up.

      • K

        Horrid quality, but incredibly appropriate for these comments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jopstEt1kQ

    • http://soiled.com Gload

      Sorry but purposely pairing up a glasses wearing brunette boy with a ginger is an obvious reference to Harry Potter. The artwork is really crappy though. It's not crappy like South Park funny, it's just bad artwork.

      Gameplay is decent but the are plenty of flaws that need to be worked out (as have been covered already).

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        Since time immemorial, smart, studious boys have been shown wearing glasses, while red heads are meant to be adventurous and impulsive. These stereotypes fit the characters to a T; it's also narrative 101 to pair up two characters with opposite personalities. It has nothing to do with Harry Potter; only the most superficial observer would think it does.

        As to the artwork, just because it's not to your taste it doesn't mean it's crappy.

  • Xeliorones

    Even the graphic style reminds Professor Layton... Not sure the game reach the same master quality.

  • Xeliorones

    Even the graphic style reminds Professor Layton... Not sure the game reach the same master quality.

  • K

    Will there be an iPad version?

    • K

      NM, found the dev. post in the forum: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=1171741&postcount=27

      "Very timely question. We just finished submitting it to the App Store . You will be blown up by what you see on the iPad"

    • http://www.99games.in 99Games

      Yeah. iPad version is there with bonus features :). Should be out in a week.

  • K

    Will there be an iPad version?

    • K

      NM, found the dev. post in the forum: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=1171741&postcount=27

      "Very timely question. We just finished submitting it to the App Store . You will be blown up by what you see on the iPad"

    • http://www.99games.in 99Games

      Yeah. iPad version is there with bonus features :). Should be out in a week.

  • Anon

    this is what i hate about idevice gaming. the appstore is chock full of developers trying to make a quick buck by shamelessly ripping off popular games. why does toucharcade keep covering this crap. i think those cheap ripoffs should be named and shamed, not praised on sites like this. it could be a small but significant step towards turning idevice gaming into something more respectable than it is at the moment.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Have you seen God Eater, Square Enix's Monster Hunter clone? For better or for worse, it's the way the industry works: someone comes up with a successful game and other developers/publishers imitate it. Heck, the entire RPG genre is a case in point. The question is whether the imitation brings anything new to the mix, whether it has it's own personality. With Jim and Frank the answer is a resounding yes.

  • Anon

    this is what i hate about idevice gaming. the appstore is chock full of developers trying to make a quick buck by shamelessly ripping off popular games. why does toucharcade keep covering this crap. i think those cheap ripoffs should be named and shamed, not praised on sites like this. it could be a small but significant step towards turning idevice gaming into something more respectable than it is at the moment.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Have you seen God Eater, Square Enix's Monster Hunter clone? For better or for worse, it's the way the industry works: someone comes up with a successful game and other developers/publishers imitate it. Heck, the entire RPG genre is a case in point. The question is whether the imitation brings anything new to the mix, whether it has it's own personality. With Jim and Frank the answer is a resounding yes.

  • http://www.99games.in 99Games

    Jim and Frank is also featured across various App Stores as 'New and Noteworthy' :)

  • http://www.99games.in 99Games

    Jim and Frank is also featured across various App Stores as 'New and Noteworthy' :)

  • beatsbOoM

    Just bought it. Haven't played it yet, but I honestly doubt it comes even remotely close Professor Layton. I'd rather see that on the App Store, but at €0,79... How much do I lose if it turns out I don't like it?! It looks like a fun little game, but you shouldn't come in and expect the same production values as in Layton... Cause that's ridiculous :)

  • beatsbOoM

    Just bought it. Haven't played it yet, but I honestly doubt it comes even remotely close Professor Layton. I'd rather see that on the App Store, but at €0,79... How much do I lose if it turns out I don't like it?! It looks like a fun little game, but you shouldn't come in and expect the same production values as in Layton... Cause that's ridiculous :)

  • SiDCrAzY

    Bought this as soon as it came out, not anywhere near as good as Layton, but for the price(and if you don't have a DS) it's a good alternative.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Let's be honest here, SID: it would have to be the most brilliant game ever conceived for you to admit that it was even close to a DS or PSP game ;).

      • SiDCrAzY

        Heh, nope. Well unless you mean Drop7 and Defender Chronicles are the most brilliant games ever.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I was just being a bit of a wiseass, SiD. :)

  • SiDCrAzY

    Bought this as soon as it came out, not anywhere near as good as Layton, but for the price(and if you don't have a DS) it's a good alternative.

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      Let's be honest here, SID: it would have to be the most brilliant game ever conceived for you to admit that it was even close to a DS or PSP game ;).

      • SiDCrAzY

        Heh, nope. Well unless you mean Drop7 and Defender Chronicles are the most brilliant games ever.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        I was just being a bit of a wiseass, SiD. :)

  • SiDCrAzY

    This game doesn't compare to Layton simple as that.

    • Eli Hodapp

      It costs quite literally 40x less than a Professor Layton game, I think you can cut them some slack. ;)

      • SiDCrAzY

        Sorry if it seems I'm being harsh on them, it really is quite a good game and 99 games is one of my fav. devs. Ever since Woodsworth I've been following them.

        Yes Layton costs more, but all I'm saying is that if you're willing to pay more for a better experience and you have DS then Layton is the way to go.

        If not, then like I said. This is a good alternative.

  • SiDCrAzY

    This game doesn't compare to Layton simple as that.

    • Eli Hodapp

      It costs quite literally 40x less than a Professor Layton game, I think you can cut them some slack. ;)

      • SiDCrAzY

        Sorry if it seems I'm being harsh on them, it really is quite a good game and 99 games is one of my fav. devs. Ever since Woodsworth I've been following them.

        Yes Layton costs more, but all I'm saying is that if you're willing to pay more for a better experience and you have DS then Layton is the way to go.

        If not, then like I said. This is a good alternative.

  • Doop

    I wish the art style was better. It'd be funny if the puzzles are good in this, because then Puzzle Agent has a great art style, but I heard the puzzles get a little stale.

  • Doop

    I wish the art style was better. It'd be funny if the puzzles are good in this, because then Puzzle Agent has a great art style, but I heard the puzzles get a little stale.

  • MrMuesli

    Wow! What a superb game. I love the atmos, dare I say even more than Prof. Layton!!! I'm not very far into the game so far but it already conjuring up the boyish explorer in me, which was neglected for a while. I can't quite believe I only gave out 59p on this one?!?

  • MrMuesli

    Wow! What a superb game. I love the atmos, dare I say even more than Prof. Layton!!! I'm not very far into the game so far but it already conjuring up the boyish explorer in me, which was neglected for a while. I can't quite believe I only gave out 59p on this one?!?

  • http://www.99games.in 99Games

    Hi guys! Thanks a lot for all the support. We've delighted that so many gamers from TA are loving the game. v1.1 of Jim & Frank Mysteries is out now on the App Store. It includes 5 new bonus puzzles, revised puzzle descriptions to help understand some of the puzzles better and the option to listen to iTunes music while playing the game. Do let us know your feedback!

    Cheers!

    P.S: The introductory price offer ends on 20th August!

  • http://www.99games.in 99Games

    Hi guys! Thanks a lot for all the support. We've delighted that so many gamers from TA are loving the game. v1.1 of Jim & Frank Mysteries is out now on the App Store. It includes 5 new bonus puzzles, revised puzzle descriptions to help understand some of the puzzles better and the option to listen to iTunes music while playing the game. Do let us know your feedback!

    Cheers!

    P.S: The introductory price offer ends on 20th August!