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It is Hollywood in the 1960s, and you are taking part in a game show about puzzles. While busy on the show, you meet an old friend who is now an FBI agent investigating a serial killer who targets the winners of the TV show that you are currently a contestant in. He asks for your help to solve the puzzles left behind by the killer. The clues lead to new victims, and you end up as a suspect too.

Can you win a game show and foil a psychopath at the same time?

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The game show involves finishing puzzles to beat your opponent’s score. You are allowed three hints per puzzle, and puzzles range from seeing the hidden message by rotating the screen, to getting a solid bar of metal from one side of a grid to another, to marble solitaire. 

The crime scenes involve arithmetic puzzles, mazes on the surface of a cube and several other tests of logic. If that all sounds rather familiar, that’s because it is; it’s the formula  set by the wildly popular and far more imaginative Professor Layton series of DS games.

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The game captures the ‘60s element well, but it can be overbearing at times…almost as if it tries too hard. The flimsy, ludicrous and clichéd story could easily have been axed – at no detriment to the game itself. Thankfully, once it is done, you can replay sections of the game, sans story, to do the puzzles you skipped during the game show.

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Unlike the game whose template it copies, there is little variation in puzzle – so the whole thing starts to feel boring towards the end of the game. There is a definite shortage of the crime scene style puzzles, which make good use of the 3D with both the puzzles and the locations where the crime took place. It’s unfortunate – because with the technology in the 3DS it could have been something special. As it is, there is hardly any use of the 3DS features in this game: only one puzzle makes use of the accelerometer, none make use of the microphone and the internal camera is only used to show your face in a few mirrors.

puzzle2In the end it’s unfulfilling, but is fun game to play when you have a few minutes to spare. If, however, you’re a puzzle-nut eagerly waiting a Western release of Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, you could certainly do worse.

Scoring

Gameplay: 6/10

Annoying load times and load screens. Puzzles are easy to learn with a good difficulty curve. Too few puzzle types to keep interest from flagging.

Design and Presentation: 6/10.

Hints contain typos and are sometimes ambiguous. Interface works well for the most part, except for minor niggles with the hint system getting tucked away, especially cumbersome if you want to reset a puzzle. Fairly smooth graphics, except for during conversations – which are reminiscent of the short, looped digitised video from adventure games in the early 90’s.

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Value: 5/10

The game is rather short, and can be completed while doing less than a third of the puzzles in the game. Being able to choose or replay puzzles at the end of the game is a nice touch, but doesn’t add that much more in terms of playtime.

Overall: 6.5/10

This Professor Layton clone just doesn’t do justice to the puzzle game genre.

Last Updated: January 25, 2012

James Noir's Hollywood Crimes 3D
Summary
6.5

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