In the vast majority of games, the story and the gameplay and inextricably intertwined.

Whether the game presents a sprawling, branching narrative based on player choice or simply implies some sort of background motivation for the action (“Once upon a time, a team of Giants from New York really wanted to go to the Super Bowl…) it’s usually impossible to completely remove the idea of the story from the idea of playing the game.

Level-5’s Professor Layton series of Nintendo DS puzzle games provides a rare exception to this rule. In these games, the storyline and gameplay progress almost entirely in parallel, with the happenings in one having little to no relationship to the happenings in the other.

Each game in the series could quite easily be split into two wholly independent parts –- one an animated movie of the story, the other a collection of dozens of unconnected puzzles -– without being much worse off. In fact, in many ways, the separated products would be more focused and satisfying.

(full article)