When I play video games, I have certain criteria for qualities a character should have in order for me to like and appreciate them.
1) They must have a distinct, memorable personality that’s likable and genuine.
2) They must have some kind of character growth in the course of the game.
3) They must have a purpose and relevance to the story.
As long as a character meets these criteria for me, I will usually like them without a hitch. Usually. There have been a few, rare cases where I gravitate to adoring certain characters that are barely part of the story and contribute next to nothing. One such character is Ridelle Mystere, the librarian in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright.
For whatever, strange reason, Ridelle is my favorite part of this entire game. I have no idea why. I just get really excited whenever she shows up on screen. Forget getting Espella to safety. Forget sneaking into the courthouse. Forget that I’m once again reminded of how her name is a terrible pun. When Ridelle’s on screen, she sucks up all of my attention with her hypnotic spectacles and fun, engaging puzzles.
In Ridelle’s defense, she’s not completely useless. As the puzzle keeper, she stores puzzles that the player may have otherwise missed (though I’m still not sure what there’s to gain from acquiring every last Piccarat, but it’s something I obsess over and therefore I’m obligated to solve every puzzle in her possession). But besides that, Ridelle also shows up at various times throughout the game and lends support.
In comparison to the other residents of Labyrinthia, Ridelle is an interesting character because she actually has a personality. While it never has a chance to really shine, it’s more prominent than everyone else in the town; while she too, obsesses over puzzles, she’s curious, smart, and supportive. As the typical librarian, she’s organized and stern, but isn’t afraid to gush about what she likes. It’s clear to see that she enjoys what she does, and though it took some work for Layton and Luke to impress her with their puzzle solving skills, once that was done and out of the way, she gained new respect for them. After discovering the secret beneath the library, it scared her, but she recovered and gives Layton the valuable Grand Grimoire. She wouldn’t give this book to just anyone, but it was necessary because she understood that the town had mysteries that needed to be solved.
When things in Labyrinthia begin to turn sour for Phoenix and Layton, she’s the only one who doesn’t turn against them. The townsfolk of Labyrinthia hate Phoenix as a defender because of the lengths he takes to save his clients from being witches, but Ridelle doesn’t focus on who he’s defending, but why. She doesn’t ignore those important details, and encourages him to keep moving forward in his fight for justice. She’s a rebel compared to everyone else in Labyrinthia, and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Ridelle makes small reappearances, again helping Layton by lending him useful items, and while it’s not much, the point is that she’s doing this because she wants the mystery to be solved. She was shaken by the turn of events in Labyrinthia but relied on Layton and Phoenix to solve those issues. In a way, she’s growing throughout the course of the game. It’s a given that this character growth is extremely subtle, but it’s there nonetheless and shows that, while she’s a minor character, she still has the capacity to change and be compelling in her own small way.
It was for these reasons that Ridelle was among one of the most interesting aspects of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, and it didn’t take much for her to become my favorite part of the whole game (alongside Phoenix and Maya’s banter and character development). She’s quirky, interesting, and a fun character to get to know.