Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Deluxe Edition CD. (computer game) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications) (Evaluation)
by Gregg Keizer
Carmen will live forever. Broderbund wouldn't let its premier star of screen--now both on the PC and the boob tube--disappear from its balance sheet. thank goodness.
Carmen Sandiego, that femme fatale of computer criminals, single-handedly launched the rush to home educational programs on the PC. Without her, millions of children wouldn't know where (or what) Zimbabwe is, or why Mona Lisa is art, nor the name of a Parisian fashion designer.
Broderbund has extended Carmen's life span yet again with this move to compact disc and multimedia. It's called Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Deluxe Edition CD (Broderbund Software. 500 Redwood Boulevard, P.O. Box 6121, Novato, California 94948-6121 ; 800-521-6263; $89.95). Taking its original edutainment title as the framework, the company has piled on tons more images, sounds, voices, and songs. You don't need an MPC-equipped PC to run Carmen, for she works just fine from DOS. You do need a CD-ROM drive, of course, and an audio board, too. But you don't need to mess with Windows, or even have it installed on your PC. to enjoy this romp.
Like all Carmen episodes, the chase is the thing. Kids play detectives hot on the trail of Carmen Sandiego's light-fingered bunch--these bad eggs steal anything that isn't nailed down, and some things that are, like the Taj Mahal. To recover the stolen objets d'art, kids trot the globe, following geographical clues they glean from interviewing witnesses and noting facts from the included paper reference book (a trademark of all Carmen's tales). Kids may find themselves in Copenhagen, for instance, with clues that seem to point toward Harare or London or Bangkok. Their job, naturally, is to unravel the itinerary of the suspect, obtain a warrant, then collar the character.
So far, a familiar Carmen. But this compact disk puts a spin (literally) on the old story. Although the deluxe floppy version introduced additional sounds, images, and voices, the CD version goes all out to make this global adventure a multimedia experience.
More than 150 digitized scenes, 150 folk-tune clips, 500 spoken foreign-language clues, 3,000 clues altogether, and 60 countries are packed onto the plastic CD platter. Characters talk to you--the Brooklynesque travel agent is a scream--and sing songs, and criminals dash across the screen. The result is a revitalized Carmen Sandiego who leads kids on an educational chase even more cleverly disguised by a layer of sheer fun.
Carmen on CD may not be TV (she's got her own show on PBS for that angle), but it's one of the few samples of multimedia that delivers more than hype and empty promises. If your home PC has a CD-ROM drive, make sure Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is within your children's reach.