Akira Tago’s series of quiz books inspired Level-5’s beloved head-scratching franchise

Professor Layton puzzle designer passes away aged 90

Akira Tago, the inspiration for – and later mastermind behind – the Professor Layton games, has died.

In 1966, Tago released Atama no Taiso (‘Brain Exercises’), a massively successful quiz book that had sold over 12 million copies by 2001 and was followed by more than 20 sequels.

The books later inspired Level-5’s series of Professor Layton video games, which see the titular detective and his sidekicks solve mysteries through the completion of hundreds of cryptic brainteasers.

Tago himself served as the ‘Puzzle Master’ for the franchise, credited with designing the challenges for every instalment from 2007’s Professor Layton and the Curious Village onwards.

The games have since gone on to sell more than 15 million units and move into the worlds of manga, novels and a feature film.

Tago passed away on March 6th as a result of interstitial pneumonia, according to the Japan Times. He was 90.

The last Professor Layton game was 2013’s Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, which was also said to be the final outing for its eponymous star, although he later made an appearance in 2014’s cross-over effort Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

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