James Noir's Hollywood Crimes

To say Ubisoft stunk up Nintendo's 3DS would be a huge understatement. Aside from Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, the rest of the publisher's lineup was average, at best.



That said, we're always willing to give the company another chance, and Ubi may redeem itself with James Noir's Hollywood Crimes, an interesting puzzle game that plunges you into a murder mystery, where solving brain teasers moves you one step closer to unraveling the killer's diabolical schemes.

Set in Hollywood, circa 1961, Hollywood Crimes casts you as a contestant on the game show, The Incredible Puzzle Masters. Turns out, the stakes are higher than what you'd find on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. A serial killer's on the loose, and you'll not only scratch your head over various TV show challenges, but also crime scenes. Everyone's in danger, even you.

The game comes with 142 different puzzles that cover the proverbial gamut, including wordplay, numbers, problem solving and physics. Some take advantage of the system's glasses free 3D, while others make use of the accelerometer, forcing you to physically tilt the system; on top of that, Hollywood Crimes has 40 mini-games.

What's more, the game adapts to your skill level, becoming easier or tougher, depending on performance.

Thus far, the puzzles look challenging, but we're more interested in the presentation, by far the most intriguing feature. It's essentially an interactive 3D movie with real actors; you'll even have a dashing crime-busting partner.

It also appears that Ubisoft has gone to certain (perhaps great) lengths to capture the time period, with vintage outfits and scenery. We just hope the game doesn't bring back horrible memories of playing those cheesy Sega CD and Saturn games with the grainy full motion video, if in fact the developers used a similar approach.

In addition, there are still some unanswered questions concerning the gameplay. The press release mentions the 3DS camera, but it remains to be seen how Hollywood Crimes uses it. Finally, the killer apparently uses personal details against the player, but we've yet to learn how this works. It's probably safe to assume things won't play out like the boss fight against Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid. "Ah, I see you've beaten Rayman 3D!"

Bottom line, we just want James Noir's Hollywood Crimes to be good, especially with Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle so far away (if it comes to the U.S. at all). Ubisoft has some cool ideas in place. Come June 7, we'll see if it delivered.