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Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Genesis) artwork

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Genesis) review


"The biggest security blanket the cartel of neíer-do-wells revel in is that, though it certainly fares better than most educational titles, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is still a more graphic version of doing your homework, and not even the nerdiest of us enjoy that. "



Evil is afoot, and itís clad in bruise-purple track bottoms and a dull grey trenchcoat with the specially-made high collars that are oft-employed by sexually-deviant flashers. More importantly, itís getting away! And if a gaggle of police officers waving what are either truncheons or comically oversized foam fingers perminantly flipping the bird canít stop them, who can?

You can. Armed with only a PDA which seems to have been installed with the pre-BETA version of Windows 3.1, and your wits, Interpol ask you, the greenest PI they could find, to crack the greatest criminal ring ever known. Enter your name into your ancient PDA, and youíll even see you have a nickname bestowed upon you befitting to your rank.



Rookie Gary was not impressed.

The organisation features an impressive cast of misfits and rogues, such as a freestyle aerobics superstar with a love for tennis, spicy foods and crazy jewellery, or a convertible-driving, world-class croquet player who always leaves a diamond-encrusted stickpin at the scenes of his crimes. No wonder Interpol needed go to ACME detective agency to try and track down such subtle masters of stealth and guile.

Rookie Gary starts to investigate a heinous crime committed in the grand settings of Budapest. Just because.

Budapest, like every location you travel to in your anti-crime rampage across the very globe, has three buildings you can visit to gather clues on your nefarious foes. Some of these locations make perfect sense: airports would be an obvious place to look for a renegade on the run, as would buildings like hotels and foreign ministries. Others include more random locales, like sports clubs and libraries.

The odd-looking receptionist at Budapestís hotel tells me that our man -- who's being constantly hunted by police and green private investigators -- avoids notice by driving a big flashy limo around and asking everyone whoíll listen for timetables of the Patagonian regions. The girl at the airport tells me that he was spotted carrying around a flag with a sun on it. I donít know about you lot, but when Iím on the run from THE MAN, (and it happens more than you might think. Videogame journalism can get you on a lot of powerful peopleís bad sides), I often prance around waving the flag of my next designated hideout for all to see.

I followed the cretin to Buenos Aires, and, sure enough, I was greeted with a peculiar sight upon entering the stock exchange (for some random reason). A man in a black mask and a stripy top appeared, but soon scampered once he saw me and my eyes blazing with the fiery light of justice. This was obviously VERY SUSPICIOUS behaviour for innocent citizens, so my deductive reasoning led me to believe I was right on the heels of a villainous villain!

The Stock Exchange guy confirmed my suspect was flashing a mammoth gold ring. Entering all I knew about my mark into the PDAís search engine, I found I was tailing none other than the legendary rapscallion SCAR GRAYNOLT!



Heís an ungodly hybrid of Hitler and Beck -- he must be stopped.

My airport sources told me the plane he hopped on had an orange, white and green flag on it (yet, though they work in an international airport, they know not what this flag is), while the third informer tells me of his research into Sikh weddings. Rookie Gary flies to New Deli.

The market place lends new henchmen to show Iím on the right track, as well as more clues for my fantastic mind to digest. Graynolt, taking a break from malicious harmonica playing, has been digging up the dirt on silver curios and checking out books on Aztec purification. To Mexico, then, and, sure enough, one of the four highlighted locations I can away to is none other than the least-imaginatively-named capitals in existence, Mexico City. Itís like they donít even try.

Mexican museum guards tell me Scarís been researching French colonial history, so I skip the rest and go right to Montreal, where I innocently enter a hotel only for some thug to hurl a knife at me. Rather than be alarmed at this blatant attempt on my life instigated by a crazed hippy with underarm hair and a giant chauffeur, the local authorities congratulate me for drawing so close to my quarry.



They also edge slowly away from me in case of gunfire. Though later stages suggest that, despite the thief ringís apparent wealth, firearms are too expensive and they make do with throwing melee weapons such as axes in their place. So itís up to me and my gaggle of uniformed police officers armed with their foam fingers of righteousness (even if they are fashioned in a suggestively naughty way) to bring Scar down. Thereís brief chase, before, finally, this criminal mastermind is bought to hard justice.



What did we learn?

We learnt that folk musicians are inherently evil and will throw daggers at you if you rate their albums any lower than 2 stars on pitchforkmedia.com, and will also tell everyone they can find little tidbits of information about where they might be headed to next, unless they drop all subtlety completely and wave a huge flag of said country right in the witnessesí face. And we learnt that hurling them in a dank cell where they belong earns you the great honour of a shiny new nickname.

Rookie Gary is no more. Make way for Sleuth Gary!

Of course, thereĎs numerous ways I could have lost the case and been stuck at my rookie level a little longer while Scar twanged his guitar tunelessly and warbled on about saving trees or hugging rabid racoons: fail to read the clues correctly and waste your limited time flying incorrectly from one wrong city to the next. Not spend enough time trying to identify your crook from witness descriptions and fail to issue a warrant for their arrest, and, even should you catch them, theyíll walk free with an air of infinite smugness. Sleuth Gary had a harder time catching his man than Rookie Gary did, but, while the difficulty alters, the routine never really does. The biggest security blanket the cartel of neíer-do-wells revel in is that, though it certainly fares better than most educational titles, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is still a more graphic version of doing your homework, and not even the nerdiest of us enjoy that.

I might be wrong; let me check:

EmP: Hey, do you enjoy doing homework?
Wolfqueen001: Depends, I guess. Sure, sometimes!

I concede, then, that thereís a market for this game and I concede, begrudging it all the way, that chasing Sandiegoís goons from London to Bombay fuelled by the raging inferno that is my intellect is a gaming pleasure not often enough seen in our chosen media. Scar was doomed the very second he tried to outsmart Rookie Gary, and his cohorts soon fell victim to the same laborious sleuthing that moved the young PI quickly up the ranks until he eventually could have a crack at the big girl herself.

He never got the Overlord moniker I feel he truly deserved, but he did enough to fell a crime kingpin. All he had to do was think, deduce, and try to keep on top of the crippling recycling of the same case with different question rehashed over and over again. But, still, the worldís a better place now so long as Carmen doesnít discover Time Travel or something just as ludicrous.

Notice how thereís a link? It leads to a hilarious inside joke. Iím smart and funny.

Rating: 6/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (March 20, 2009)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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honestgamer posted March 21, 2009:

This was a pretty good read, though I'm part of its target audience so some of the jokes that you were making weren't as hilarious to me as they might have been to someone who laughs at the idea of learning things from video games. I spent tons of hours on the Carmen Sandiego games when I was in elementary school (Apple IIe versions, thank you much) and they did have the effect of helping me to learn my capitals and such a little better. Clearly, the games weren't intended for people who already know the stuff, but for those who don't and should know it. And for that, they were quite enjoyable.
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sashanan posted March 21, 2009:

I've read this review and saw it leaving on a plane with a green and white flag.
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Halon posted March 21, 2009:

I remember playing this game in grammar school on the school computers during lunch. Good times.
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Suskie posted March 21, 2009:

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Whoever added this game to the database (I'm not saying it's EmP) has a laughable understanding of the English language.
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honestgamer posted March 21, 2009:

I'm not sure what you're getting at, Suskie. It was likely me that added the title, and I see no issues with it whatsoever.
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Suskie posted March 21, 2009:

In titles, verbs get capitalized. "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" is correct. (And I'm not being serious, by the way. It's just one my pet peeves.)

Me and my pet peeves.
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EmP posted March 21, 2009:

This isn't insane and overlflowing praise! It's grammatic bickering!

I am far from pleased at this turnout.

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