All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


James Noir's Hollywood Crimes

Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

James Noir's Hollywood Crimes adds a bit of story to what could otherwise be nothing but a series of brain teasers and mental puzzles, which is good because that is what will keep most gamers interested in the massive number of puzzles Hollywood Crimes has to offer.

While the puzzles themselves don't do much to impart personality into the game, the setting that they take place does. The game's story takes place in 1961 and it alternates between a TV game show and crime scenes. As a result, you get some interesting settings that have just enough detail when it comes to hair or clothing style to properly date the game.

Characters from the "always on" game show host to the show's Vanna White style model really go along way to set the stage of the game. Not only do the characters appear to fit the part, but some of the dialogue sounds about right as well. While there aren't a lot of characters in the game (primarily those two, the FBI agent you are helping and your opponent in the game show), they feel right. The game even adds a bit of stylized special effects into the mix by flattening out the actors some. For those familiar with Photoshop's Posterize tool, imagine that filter being applied over the actors.


James Noir's Hollywood Crimes starts off with you winning a chance to be on everybody's favorite game show. The setup of the show is interesting, though a bit too drawn out to make me think it would actually succeed in real life. The format of the show has two contestants alternating weekly appearances as each attempts to top a pre-defined score in order to stay in the game. Each round, the contestants are allowed to choose from a series of puzzles, each with a score associated with them, and you just need to solve however many brainteasers it takes to beat the weekly challenge. Should one of the two contestants fail to earn enough points, the other wins.

There's one problem, it appears that a killer is on the lose and he/she is targeting former winners of the game show. To make matters more cryptic, the killer is leaving puzzles at the crime scenes and an old buddy of yours just happens to be the lead investigator on the case. Seeing you appear on the game show, he enlists your help in solving the puzzles and tracking down the killer. As a result, the game flip-flops between puzzles provided to you on the game show and ones the killer leaves with his/her victims.

There is also the option of returning to your hotel room, between game show rounds, of course, and either working on puzzles from the show that you did not choose, or going through your fan mail and solving the brain teasers that your viewers have sent you. I liked this aspect of the game since it means there is a lot more content than what is needed to beat the storyline.


As for James Noir's Hollywood Crimes's puzzles themselves, they come in a wide variety. Everything from number-based logic puzzles similar to sudoku all the way to mazes and pattern recognition tasks are thrown at you throughout the game.

Unfortunately, I found myself doubting the overall difficulty of these puzzles as I progressed in the game. Besides an issue with a simple slide-puzzle, a personal Achilles Heel, I didn't have any problems making my way through the puzzles until I got to the fifth and sixth rounds of the game show. Even then, given the time, I was able to work out those puzzles. I don't know if the ease of the game has to do with the need for some more balancing, or the fact that I am just naturally inclined towards these kinds of puzzles (one needs only to look at the number of adventure titles I've reviewed to get an idea about that). Either way, I found that a couple of long afternoons is enough to make it through the game's story and solve the mystery. Of course, the gameplay is much longer if you attempt to solve every possible puzzle James Noir's Hollywood Crimes puts in your path.

Game Mechanics:

James Noir's Hollywood Crimes uses the stylus and touch screen for pretty much every puzzle, even if it feels really awkward to do so. For most of the puzzles, the stylus isn't that big of a deal. You will need the precision it gives over your finger or thumb in order to perform the various actions the game will have you do, but there are some times when the UI for manipulating the puzzle just feels odd with a stylus.

These times primarily come when you are tapping on a target on the bottom screen. This target represents the area on the top screen you are selecting or tapping. Usually, these particular puzzles involve using the Circle Pad to rotate the object on the top screen, which you will have to do for most puzzles, and its the combination of using both the stylus and the Circle Pad that makes the game feel a bit odd and clunky. Honestly, I think these particular puzzles would have been far more enjoyable if the image of the object you are tapping was on the bottom screen so you can actually see where you are tapping.

Even given that bit of flaw though, I would still recommend Hollywood Crimes to most gamers who like brain teasers and puzzles. Even then though, I would suggest James Noir's Hollywood Crimes be more of a rental than an all out purchase, at least for its current new release cost, that is.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Related Links:

Windows Gemini Rue Microsoft Xbox 360 NFL Blitz

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated