James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes: An ill-fitting puzzle

December 11, 2011

A great many puzzle-based games have been released for the DS, but Ubisoft provides the first one for the 3DS with James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes. How does it stack up? About as well as most first attempts do.

Hollywood Crimes takes place in the 1960s, when game shows were all the rage on TV. You play as yourself, a contestant on the most popular puzzle game show around. Through a series of rounds, you’ll compete with an opponent to see who wins an all expenses paid trip around the world. Of course, as the title of the game implies, crimes will be committed that you’ll have to help solve using puzzles.

The story itself is interesting, but the pacing feels all wrong. The story moves way too fast, which takes away from both the tension and the meaning behind everything. This is very disappointing because the story had a chance to be on par with a few crime novels I’ve read, and it’s obvious that’s where the writers were hoping to go. It’s a shame that the pacing is so off that it makes the story feel shallow and contrived.

While it misses somewhat in some areas, it does a very good job on the puzzles. There are around 140 puzzles in the game, and a majority of them are varying difficulties of 7 or 8 different types. Some of them are more interesting than others, but nearly all the puzzles require a good amount of thinking to solve. There’s no need to worry if a solution eludes you though, as each puzzle comes with three or four hints than give progressively more useful advice, substantially lowering the difficulty of the puzzles.

As with most puzzle games, the voice acting and audio varies between average and substandard. The art style is kind of a cel-shaded realism, which works for the somewhat realistic atmosphere Ubisoft was going for.

It’s not an impressive foray into the puzzle genre, but if they correct the pacing issue and flesh out the story more, I could see a sequel being very good.

Pros: Challenging puzzles, interesting story
Cons: Terrible pacing… seriously, just horrible

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.