James Noir's Hollywood Crimes

Reviewed by Kyle Bell, Posted on 2011-12-01


Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: November 1, 2011 Available On: 3DS

Let's face it, most mystery games on the DS have been crap. Whether it is Agatha Christie or the oddly conceived Sudoku Ball Detective (don't ask how they came up with the idea for that one - I have no idea myself), the genre has proven to be full of dud after dud. Is it even conceivable that Ubisoft can provide us with a respite in the form of James Noir's Hollywood Crimes for the 3DS? Surprisingly, yes.

The game starts you off in a television studio that is clearly inspired by a 1960s era game show. The show is Incredible Puzzle Masters and you are a contestant on it. Kind of like Jeopardy, you get to choose which puzzle you are going to solve on the board with varying degrees of difficulty and point value. The idea, of course, is to score the most points in order to win the show.

The Hollywood Crimes part of the title comes into play when the FBI comes to you in order to help them with a series of puzzles left by a serial killer. The game switches back and forth between the game show and crime scenes. You end up solving puzzles at both locations.

The puzzles are the major focus of the game. If you have ever been to one of those brain teaser stores in a nearby large mall then those are the types of puzzles that you will encounter in this game. For instance, one of them simply has you use the 3DS gyroscope to tilt the screen and move an object that must go into a hole on the board. The object can only go in straight lines until it touches a wall.

Note: The game is not in Italian, but this is the best trailer I could find to show gameplay.

These types of brain games do a good job of getting you to think in a creative fashion. Serial killer story aside, the puzzles would be a fantastic way for kids to stay actively thinking. For that matter it is also a good way for older folks to stay on their toes – at least mentally.

The presentation is odd. The whole game comes off as a PC game from the 1990s with the full-motion video sequences that use pre-recorded video that plays frame-by-frame instead of 3D video game models that you find in most games today. The feel comes off as campy, but it actually kind of has a certain level of charm to it, even if it is extremely low-budget for a video game made in 2011.

While the variety of puzzles in James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes is disappointing, the overall product is surprisingly solid. Do not let the cheap graphics fool you into thinking that this is shovelware. Underneath there is a quality puzzle game with a vintage graphical style that will have you thinking you’re in the good old 90s.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.2 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review

Reviewed by Kyle Bell