James Noir's Hollywood Crimes is a puzzle adventure game. Set in the sixties of last century, players audition for a role of contestant on a cheesy TV show. During the rounds of this show, called The Incredible Puzzle Masters, players have to reach a certain score by solving various puzzles. In between rounds, they help an old friend who is now with the FBI solve a murder case. The serial killer targets previous winners of the show and leaves clues in the form of puzzles.
During each round of the show there are twelve puzzles to choose from in several point brackets. By carefully choosing, you can make sure to not only beat the minimum score to get to the next round, but also get a higher score than your competitor. Doing so means getting more 'fan letters' containing additional puzzles and hints for the killer's puzzles. There are several in-game features to assist the player, such as a semi-transparent sheet overlaying the puzzle that you can write or draw on with the stylus, a hint system and the possibility to restart a puzzle or back out of it without penalty.