Carmen Sandiego has pissed off people through the ages. That’s impressive.
Spanish conquistadors were jerks.
DEVELOPER: Distinctive Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: October 1991
Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? is not a rhetorical question. The goal of the game is to travel through time, searching for criminals who have stolen great works of art throughout the ages. Carmen Sandiego is the end goal, the ultimate elusive thief. She’s escaped from the clutches of children and grown-ups alike for two decades, eighteen games, two television game shows, and an animated series – and she’s still running wild. You’ll search for clues by talking to witnesses, informants, or scanning the area. The clues always have to do with the location the criminal is headed next, or a feature about the criminal themselves. The former will dictate where/what time period you travel to, and the latter will provide you with personal evidence to issue a warrant. You have a limited number of in-game hours to find the criminal and arrest them. In fact, many of the cases have such limited hours that you’re hardly allowed a mistake. Traveling to India 995 A.D. when you should have traveled to Russia 1365 A.D. could cost you a case. What if a clue has you stuck? Well, if you purchased the game in 1991, you were armed with a New American Desk Encyclopedia and your own knowledge of history and geography to help you solve the cases. If you’re playing this today, you’re armed with Google; that’s all you need, really. With 80+ cases to solve, you’ll be sleuthing for an age to catch Ms. Sandiego (thankfully, the game gives you a password after you solve every case). I could see the formula – gather clues, travel, gather clues, travel, issue a warrant, arrest, repeat – growing stale after a couple dozen cases. Still, few games have embodied the edutainment genre so well. With Where in Time, you will learn, and you will enjoy yourself… within reason.
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