Broderbund’s "Carmen Sandiego: World Detective" is quite a package. It not only involves the player in detective work trying to track down Carmen Sandiego and her criminal pals through 50 countries all over the globe, but it also can lead the player to more scholastically-oriented treasures by using the package’s multimedia library, direct Internet access to a Web site with links to geographical information, a talking foreign language glossary and guided tours of the lands that you as a detective are visiting.
Carmen Sandiego and her globe trotting criminal ilk known as V.I.L.E. (Villains International League of Evil) commit crimes the world over in this game. You, as an ACME Rookie Agent, must gather clues from people and objects you find from each country you travel to. You must compile information from your gathered clues to figure out what the suspect looks like and where the suspect has gone to so you can eventually spot and arrest such puny-named villains as Rob M. Blind, Ruth Less and "Shaky" Al Le Bye.
But before you can make an arrest, you must obtain a warrant. All of this jet-setting adventure can’t be completed at a leisurely stroll through the park pace either. You must track down and arrest your villain before your ACME Babel-Link Translator runs out of power. The more crimes you solve, the higher your rank becomes in the ACME Detective Agency. The rankings start out at Rookie and you can climb all the way up to Super Sleuth.
The ACME Babel-Link Translator is issued to you as you begin your detective work. This all-in-one gadget would leave even the likes of James Bond jealous. It comes complete with a battery meter to let you know how much power your translator has left, which essentially means how much time you have left to find your criminal. It also has such features as a notepad to save your clues upon, the Digisketch into which you enter your criminal’s physical features on, a map of the country you are in and the statements that you click on to allow you to speak to people to gather clues.
The Translator has a World Wiz Database button which allows you to temporarily detour from the game to find a list of countries, continents, and other game options. This database allows the player to search through a glossary to hunt for unfamiliar phrases that you may encounter from witnesses. Click on any of the locations listed and this will bring up a list of facts and an essay about each place you desire to find out more about. Also included with each country is a map of the country, flag and either a video or photos of the country.
The Translator also has help features for those times when you just aren’t familiar with the geographic origins of the clue that is being offered to you. By clicking on the "Find" feature you can type in the clue and it may help you to figure out what country is being described. Another helpful feature is the videophone which allows you as the investigator to call your Chief at the detective agency or to request a guide who can give you historical and cultural information about the country you are visiting.
As if that were not enough, the World Wiz Database also has an ACME Talking Translator that allows you to click on an English phrase, and hear it translated in one of 12 different foreign languages.
You can step aside from crime fighting for a while to travel the world through Explore Mode. This allows players to learn information about different countries without having to worry about preserving battery power for your translator. This game also offers direct access to the Internet. The Web site the game connects to has links to maps, satellite images, and other geographic resources about the world.
Educationally, this package has great value in that it can take such a traditionally tedious subject as geography and make it into something fun and interesting. The player barely notices while chasing criminals around the globe that they are using their prior knowledge about cultures, history, and geography, and is building upon this knowledge to solve cases. Another fine feature of this package is that it can be used as a resource tool. Information about various countries is well presented through a variety of media within the game and through Internet links.
I have witnessed many children playing this game having a great time and they don’t mind in the least that they are learning from it, if they even consciously recognize the fact that they are learning from it cause this fact is very well hidden.
This game encompasses what learning should be all about: a fun, natural, and engaging experience. Children’s software designers take note, the Carmen Sandiego series is not the number one selling children’s software series for nothing.