Carmen Sandiego Math Detective
|Carmen Sandiego Math Detective|
CD Cover art
|Platform(s)||Mac OS, Microsoft Windows|
Plot and Gameplay
The plot of the game is that Carmen Sandiego has shrunk famous landmarks into crystals using the Quantum Crystallizer machine, which the player must restore to their full size. The player travels to different hideouts, and plays maths-related minigames such as Atom Smasher, Crimewave Sensor, and Microchip Decoder, which when completed provide passwords. Once the player has enough passwords, they can get keys which allow then to free crystals from the machine. The game comes with "over 400 word problems, a strategy guide, glossary of math terms and progress reports". There are 3 levels of difficulty.
The game teaches skills including: word problems, estimation, geometry, equations, modelling, whole numbers, money, fractions and decimals. These are presented as activities that help solve the game's puzzles rather than tiresome, repetitive exercises.
Around the year of its release, the game series had sold 6 million copies (40,000 in elementary schools).
A description of the game Math Detective at the Learning Village says that the game is "extremely thorough on the learning front and has an engaging story line and a challenging mission", and that it is "an excellent program for those who like a challenge". It went on to say that the "program meaningfully challenges kids from the ages of 8 to 14 because it has 3 completely different operating levels of difficulty in all the math skill activity areas". A testimonial from 11-year-old Catherine, provided by the site, is "I don't really like math much but I really liked playing this game." Various other commentary on the game from the same website are: "They wouldn't put it down. I couldn't get them to bed" (Dad with two kids 9 and 12), "Loved trying to get the clue before the thief came back to the hideout" (Peter, age 10).
A review by Superkids said the game is "best suited for kids who like to hunt for clues and solve mysteries", and argues that by being "filled with challenges to spark the emerging mathematical mind", the game makes maths accessible to those who otherwise wouldn't be engaged by the subject matter. It gave the game a score (out of 5) 4.7 for educational value, 4.9 for kids appeal, and 4.9 for ease of use.
A writer for PCWorld notes that "you soon realize that the math drills go on far too long. The crystal hideaways are bleak and dull, and you don't really seem to be catching thieves", and adds that her "eight-year-old daughter, Julia, who actually asks us to buy math workbooks, quickly gave up".
Allgame gave the game a 4.5 star graphics rating - commenting that it was "cartoony, but extremely amusing", a 4.5 star sound rating - saying it was "ver[y] clear and easy to hear", a 4.5 star enjoyment rating - commenting that "[the] series has not lost its power to educate and amuse all at once", a 5 star replay value rating - saying "the three difficulty levels will give hours of replay" and that one minigame can be customised, and a 4.5 documentation rating - commenting the documentation "explains each game thoroughly and gives hints". Overall, the game was given an AMG Rating of 4.5 stars.
Larry Blasko of The Bryan Times said "the visuals here are top-shelf, and the animationa and music move smoothly, with nicely places sound effects and artistic flourishes". It noted however that it was impossible to uninstall the program, which is a negative as parents often needed to rotate the edutainment games on the computer to prevent their kids from getting bored.
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