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Peter Naughton @pnaw10


Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego? (Commodore 64)

Great educational game from the famous series.

The Good
This was my first Carmen Sandiego game. Though I was in 4th or 5th grade at the time, and I knew almost nothing about Europe, this game made it fun to learn! I felt like I had an "edge" over the other kids in my class when we finally learned European geography in 6th grade.

The way the game is presented, it's very easy to learn a lot of great things without that "feeling like you're being forced to learn" that so many kids hate. It's just as addicting for both kids and adults... my dad used to play "Europe" when I wasn't playing it back on the C-64... and I even bought a PC version of "Where in the World" more recently... I still play it occasionally.

The Bad
Sometimes the clues you're given are TOO vague. Especially considering I was 9 or 10 at the time... the suggested "lower end" of the game's suggested age range. I remember looking through the included almanac for nearly an hour sometimes, and I still couldn't figure out what city I was supposed to visit next.

The Bottom Line
Any of the "Where in the ____ is Carmen Sandiego" games are an excellent way for both kids and adults to learn more about the world we live in. The story for each mission is that Carmen Sandiego or one of her henchmen has stolen some kind of famous landmark or treasured item. You start in the city of the crime, gathering clues which let you follow the suspect from city to city until you finally catch up to them.

The clues are often vague enough that you have to look in reference materials to figure out where your suspect is hiding out next. An almanac and some other materials were included so there's no confusion. Looking up these facts is what makes the game such a great educational tool... you learn a lot of things about different states or countries as you trail the thief.

But being a geography wiz isn't the only key to success. You also need to figure out WHO you're chasing around. Along the way, you need to talk to people to find out clues about the suspect... their hair color, favorite food, etc. Once you have enough clues to narrow it down to one particular suspect, you can get an arrest warrant for the suspect you're chasing.

Watch out! Careless detective work will land you in the wrong city... wasting precious hours as you retrace your steps to find the correct city. Being careless could also give you a warrant for the wrong person... or the clues may wind up matching with NONE of the suspects. You usually have one week in "game time" to get your warrant and catch the thief. Hours tick away with every flight you take and with every interview you make.

By Peter Naughton on February 11, 2005