IGN Review of Unsolved Crimes
The DS touch screen is a natural fit for graphic adventure games, and Unsolved Crimes is a competent offering that should give fans a small puzzle-solving fix. Visually, it's straight out of 1992 with its generic characters and ghetto animation. But the gameplay is solid, featuring a nice mix of exploration and evidence examination.
Unsolved Crimes comes by way of Japanese developer Now Production. These types of mystery games are pretty popular in Japan, and Now has experience both in this genre and with puzzle games like PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient for the PSP. As is common with lower profile Japanese games, there are plenty of typos littering the text. The first couple cases rely on murder mystery clichés but the game eventually grows into its own adventure with some inventive and lengthy problems.
The issues with the game are mostly cosmetic. As I said, it's not easy on the eyes. The stiff characters in cut scenes look like holdovers from when 3D animation was just getting started. Unsolved Crimes is set in the 1970s, but you wouldn't know it if not for the groovy funk over the retro TV intro sequence. Once in the game, everything is generic enough to take place in any time period. The developers missed an opportunity to give the game a stylized, period look and maybe have fun with some of the stereotypes of 70s cop shows. The only reason I can think of for claiming these crimes took place 30 years ago is to explain the lack of technology like DNA testing at the player's disposal.
But if you can look past the dated visuals you'll find some fun detective work. Players are presented with a case, head to the crime scene, gather evidence, and head back to headquarters every five minutes to report their findings to the chief. Touch screen functionality has been implemented in some interesting ways like drawing a bullet's trajectory, piecing a torn message back together, or jotting down a license plate number as a car speeds away. When at police headquarters ambient radio dispatches, sirens, and typewriter clicks set the scene.
Since you play as a rookie detective, your partner is there to help put all the pieces together. When you've collected the evidence you need she'll usually initiate a "query" sequence, or a series of questions, to move the story along. The only problem is that you can sometimes determine what is needed just by looking at the list of possible answers, negating the need for any detective work. It doesn't help that some of the answers are too goofy to be possible.
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