July 23, 2016: Where in the World … is…

…Carmen Sandiego?!

I think one of my favorite memories from elementary school was playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in the 4th grade. My teacher had one of the first Macintosh computers in her classroom … and already I was kind of known as a computer dork … so one day she showed me and another kid this game, and we probably spent weeks upon weeks of lunches and even time during class playing it to see if we could get to the end!

That’s right, while the rest of the class was learning about whatever our teacher’s lessons for the day were, I was enough of a teacher’s pet that she let, no – ENCOURAGED me to play video games all day at school!!! 😉

So after watching a random review of this old classic today, I decided to pull up an online-playable version and relive a few of those memories. I figured between considering that I was maybe ten years-old at the time, plus … and more importantly … easy access to Google and Wikipedia, the game would be a pushover, but surprisingly it still presented a few challenges. Namely, the fact that all of the questions in the game are based on when it was created in 1985, whereas … things have changed a bit in the last 30 years…

A couple of the flags are different, and most notably the Soviet Union hadn’t actually been dissolved yet!

Luckily, I think, the game does get a bit repetitive and relies heavily on the flags for helping to follow the culprits around the globe … I do remember that from elementary school because there was a section in the 2″ thick world almanac that came with the book devoted entirely to flags. Needless to say, I got pretty good at knowing each country’s flag colors before we were done… 😉

I would argue that the in-game questions are probably easier to solve today using Wikipedia because it saves flipping through all of those pages, though playing the game sans almanac does pose a challenge when it’s time to get your promotions because after completing X number of cases, it also prompts you to answer a question that serves as the game’s copy protection and those questions can be a bit finicky.

Fortunately, GameFAQs has a bunch of the questions and answers listed out in the FAQ for the game. I probably played through a dozen or so cases with several promotions and only had one question not in the list where I had to do some research and then hope for the best!

I remember seeking out some of the other games in the series for our home computer after mastering the world, but the others weren’t nearly as good – USA got tricky with its hints because they didn’t always directly tie back to an option for one of the suspects, and good god Time was just hard as hell in general! Well, at least for a ten or eleven year-old it was. 🙂

Where in the World… is definitely the classic game – kinda surprising that it hasn’t gotten heaved upon the bandwagon and re-released on iOS by now! I know I’d pay $5 or $10 to have a copy of that nostalgia next to Final Fantasy and Oregon Trail on my phone. And if they somehow bundled in a new soundtrack featuring the song from the game show… 😉

“She’s a sticky-fingered filcher from Berlin down to Belize…”

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