Release Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Publisher: Ubisoft
MPAA Rating: Teen

I got my Nintendo 3DS at the beginning of the year, along with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This is my favorite game of all time and, I’ll admit, the only reason I traded in my DSi for the 3DS was to play Ocarina again. While I love Ocarina, it’s also a huge commitment. It takes dedication, and then there are all the little side quests you can do. Then once you’ve completed the game you get to play the “Master Quest” version. Needless to say, I got my sword and shield at the beginning of the game and…. That’s as far as I got. I wasn’t prepared to dive into a game that I knew would consume my life for the next several weeks. So I began my own real life quest to find a decent 3DS game that I could pick up, play for an hour or so, and then tuck away without going into withdrawal. That game was James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes.

You are a contestant in an early 1960s game show in which you compete to solve puzzles. The first week your competitor plays the game and sees how many points he can score by solving puzzles of varying difficulty. The harder the puzzles, the more points you can earn. You get to play during the second week to try to top his score, or at least garner enough points to move onto the next round. Oh, and there’s a serial killer on the loose killing former contestants and you’re helping the FBI solve puzzles left at the crime scenes. Everyone involved with the show is a suspect. Heck, you’re even a suspect even though you’re trying to help catch the murderer. Who is the killer, and will you beat your competitor to claim the top prize? Or will you die trying?

Okay, the drama here isn’t exactly riveting, but more like when a sitcom tries for a heartfelt episode when the family pet dies or something. There are two reasons to play this game: the puzzles and the graphics. If you’re a fan of the Professor Layton series for the DS, this may be up your alley. Granted, the Professor Layton puzzles can be a bit more difficult and offer more variety, the Hollywood puzzles can be enjoyable, if not predictable after a while. Oh gee, another puzzle where I have to slide puzzle pieces around to move one particular piece into a highlighted spot? The fun never ends! But seriously, the puzzles aren’t half-bad- just don’t expect a huge variety.

This is only the second 3DS game I’ve played, but I must say that I was very happy with the graphics. Real actors are used in the video game so it plays out almost like a movie. When they talk, their mouths move, but their words (if you can call them words) don’t match the audio. It’s as if you were watching a dubbed foreign film. The style is definitely 1960s from the clothes, the hairstyles, and even the opening credits of the fake game show. The 3D effects aren’t as impressive as, say, Ocarina, but they were decent enough.

Although  James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes is worth a go-around and I’ve enjoyed playing it, it’s not a keeper. Besides the puzzles being repetitive, there are also loads of typos throughout the game and the game itself is pretty short (you could probably knock it out in five to six hours). Sure, you could play it again to solve all the puzzles you passed up during the first run-through, but after that you’re going to want to trade it in (at Slackers, of course) for something different.