Iconic baddie Carmen Sandiego and her squad of evil goons are on the run following a series of global escapades — and it’s up to you to bring them to justice.
Basic Fun! continues its classic arcade game resurgence with this handheld version of the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? video game. The ’80s-inspired handheld console features a retro vibe (much like its Oregon Trail console game last year) and invokes all the nostalgia of the original Carmen Sandiego game with vintage-inspired animation technology that brings players into the ACME Detective Agency. The console has just four buttons and a four-way directional keypad to make all the necessary sleuthing moves.
As a new detective on the ACME force, the player must journey from city to city, answering questions and solving geographical clues to catch the thieves in the midst of their hijinks — before time runs out.
Each level begins with a Police Dossier from Headquarters. The dossier includes a brief background on what was stolen from where, as well as which V.I.L.E. suspect you’ll need to find. Next, players need to go to the city of the crime and coax clues from the locals about what they’ve seen and exactly who committed the act. Each clue features a riddle involving a different geography-related question — including flag colors, mountain ranges, and bodies of water — about where the V.I.L.E. thief headed next or some other key identifier about them. These questions are important: To figure out the next location, players will need to know geographical facts to correctly identify different locales. Luckily, the instructions list out all the operational bases in the game by city and country if you need a refresher.
Getting to the right location is only half of your duty. As a detective, it is your responsibility to find out the correct identity of the V.I.L.E. thief. You have access to the ACME database of suspects; however, you’ll need two or three characteristics to narrow down the search and issue a warrant to arrest the correct thief. Make sure you read each clue thoroughly to learn all you can about the suspect and the hideout location, such as hair color, a prominent ring, or the color of the flag on their getaway car.
There’s definitely a learning curve with this game. (It took me four games to apprehend both the correct suspect and arrive at the correct location in time for capture.) Each time you catch the bad guy, you get an ACME promotion, from rookie to sleuth to private eye, and so on, right on up to the top. Pro tip: Consider every bit of information you’re given as a clue because you will need to decipher all of it to find enough facts to crack the case. I recommend sticking to one location until you get all three clues; it’ll make it easier to find the next location, and you’ll collect the necessary information about your bad guy. If you arrive at a new location and find a V.I.L.E. employee, that’s a good sign that you are on the right track and answered each trivia question correctly — so far.
It’s a fun game, as long as you can piece together the clues and meet your match in the right location and at the right time. It’s a general knowledge throwback game, so it’s time to dust off your study skills and get ready to ace this test! Some of the questions are not crystal-clear depending on what your grade-school education was like; for example, my public schools never really covered the names of the volcanic mountains of New Guinea, so I had to look up that info online to pick the right location and move forward in the game.
It may take a while, but once you get dust off your brain and figure the game out, you’ll be a total pro and feel confident in your abilities to thwart the bad guys.
Photos: Basic Fun!