James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes is the latest interactive puzzle thriller game for the Nintendo 3DS. With the main character being yourself, the story follows you to 1960’s Hollywood where you get the chance to appear on TV show, The Incredible Puzzle Masters. As you progress through each of the six rounds, an old friend from the FBI tells you about various murders where at the crime scene the killer has left a puzzle. But here is the twist: each person they find dead just so happens to have won the same TV game you’re playing and now you’ve become a suspect. Being the puzzle master you and your expertise are needed to crack the puzzles, clear your name and unmask the killer before the law comes for you!
To play the game you’ll need to use the stylus and can rotate certain puzzles with the circle pad, rotating the 3DS and using the A, B, X and Y buttons. With each puzzle you get a side menu which gives you hints, a chance to review the puzzle rules, a writing pad and restart the puzzle and quit options. You’ll also find the check mark which you press to manually submit your answers.
The game is essentially two parts: playing through the TV quiz and helping out the FBI. In the quiz you need to solve the puzzles and also attain a certain score to progress. You are given a selection of puzzles which when solved gives you a certain amount of points. The points allocated for each puzzle indicates the difficulty. If you are able to solve the puzzle without using a hint you get an additional five points. The better you do after each round the more fans you accumulate. Each fan sends you more puzzles to solve and also gives you additional hints you can use when dealing with the FBI puzzles.
When the FBI asks for your help they show you more complex brainteasers which direct them to the whereabouts of the next victim. Just as with the TV show, you get four hints instead of three but to use these you will need to access your ‘hint bank’. Be aware that if you do use the fourth hint it will take five points from your hint bank. The upside is that it does give you the solution so bear that in mind.
I am a sucker for a good puzzle game. When I watched the cinematic beginning, I was prepared to get drawn into a story which promised to be complex, dark with mind boggling puzzles. Unfortunately once the mini movie was done, this is where the excitement and the need to play the game ended for me. I found the story dry and not at all engaging. I tried to follow the story but I quickly became bored and kept skipping through the cutscenes. What did keep me going was wanting to finish each puzzle but once I got stumped, I have to admit, I didn’t give it another go.