Hollywood of the 1960s might not scream "3D-optimized puzzles," but that doesn't mean the two can't go hand in hand. James Noir's Hollywood Crimes knows this is the case. As a contestant on fictional quiz show Incredible Puzzle Masters, you're naturally the best choice to help the FBI with its investigation into a serial killer who leaves puzzles at every crime scene. Not only are you the best choice, but the victims are also past champions of the show. Puzzling. It's a slightly weird game; there's a low-budget feel to it, with puzzles that are great fun if a little repetitive. But the B-movie feel of Hollywood Crimes actually contributes to its charmingly off-kilter atmosphere.
There's an unusual disparity at the start of the game, but it's one that actually works rather well. The game fluctuates between gaudy '60s quiz-show dressing and moody crimes scenes, with both settings offering puzzles to solve. The quiz show is laid out neatly; you have to solve 12 puzzles that are divided into three score brackets and achieve a target score. It's a good idea and allows you to choose which brainteasers you solve to progress, meaning (at least in some parts of the game) you're never going to be stuck on one specific conundrum.
The main downside here is that there isn't much puzzle variation. Usually, each type of puzzle appears multiple times, and although there's justification for this later in the game, some more variety would have been nice. There are numerous puzzles where you have to navigate a 3D maze, puzzles where you have to drop coins into the correct slots, lock-picking puzzles, sequential puzzles, and the occasional clever one-off brainteaser.
Most of the puzzle types are a lot of fun and make decent use of the 3DS tech. This extends to the game overall, with such neat touches as seeing yourself reflected in mirrors or having to rotate a 3D object to get the correct perspective. Some challenges also make use of the tilt sensor and have you rotate your 3DS to slide a block around a maze. To compensate for the fact that you have to move the handheld around, the 3D itself is sparse and nonintrusive, which adds a small amount of depth to the visuals without ever really straying much into full 3D territory. It's a good example of knowing when less is more.