Where in Space Is Carmen Sandiego?
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|Where in Space Is
Macintosh Cover art
|Director(s)||David Ross, Christa Beeson|
|Producer(s)||David Ross, Christa Beeson|
|Composer(s)||Tom Rettig, Michael Barrett|
Where in Space Is Carmen Sandiego? is a game produced by Brøderbund and released in 1993 for DOS and 1994 for Macintosh. The game, for both children and adults, teaches players about the solar system. Even though the game was not a "deluxe" edition, its title was stylised as Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego? Deluxe Edition.
In the time before the company was acquired by The Learning Company, Carmen Sandiego games were generally divided into four eras: CGA (1985/6), VGA enhanced, (1989/1992), high-res VGA (1992-4), and CD-ROM (1995 onwards). This game falls within "the second group...that are based on the improved game engine that offers high-res VGA graphics, thousands of clues (as opposed to hundreds), and a more polished interface."
According to Mobygames, "Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego uses the original formula from the first 4 games in the series (Where In The World, Where in Europe, Where In Time, Where in the USA) and extends it to our knowledge of astronomy and space". The game includes 32 locations and 1100 clues, the latter of which can be deciphered through the VAL 9000 computer which "provides information about the history, science, and mythology of space that will aid you in your search". The game includes "digitised NASA images of the sun, planets and moons, star searches, talking aliens, planetary fly-bys and launches of interplanetary probes", while "the original music score includes different themes for each planetary system in digitised sound." The game's photos are sourced from NASA, The Planetary Society, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, among other places. The game comes with a user's guide and a copy of "Peterson's First Guide to Astronomy" by Jay M. Pasachoff. The game was given as one of the prizes for the essay-writing competition called Delta's World Adventure Challenge with Carmen Sandiego.
The game had a slightly different look and feel from the previous Carmen Sandiego titles. For instance, the Chief has been replaced with an alien whose words are translated onscreen. Henchpeople have been replaced with "henchthings." The game includes the franchise's trademark pun-based humour.
A school edition was also released.
The player flies in a rocket ship throughout the solar system, questioning various alien lifeforms in order to solve the theft of an important part of the solar system (e.g. Saturn's rings). There is only a limited amount of fuel available for travel, so if the player doesn't ask the right questions on the right planets, or follows the wrong clues, the criminal(s) will get away, leaving the player to start over again with another crime. This version is somewhat similar to Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, in which the player chases a culprit who stole something, and making a warrant to apprehend the culprit. Players travel in the Cosmohopper 911 Turbo, and access the VAL 9000 database for information.
Computer Shopper praised the game's graphics, deeming its "magnificent" and "stunning" space photos more impressive than the Deluxe versions of previous Carmen Sandiego games. The magazine also commended the game's "striking transitions" and "well-scripted [and] powerful musical score", while considering the user guide "invaluable...amusing and thorough". While deeming the game fun, the magazine also felt it could get a bit repetitive. In a separate article, the magazine described the game as an "entertaining program", and compared it favourably to Connie and Bonnie's Birthday BlastOff. PC Mag deemed the graphic "delightful" and music "breathtaking", and made them highly anticipate the future Carmen Sandiego games. Changing Literacies deemed the game "intentionally educational".
Clayton Walnum of Atari Magazines wrote "Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego? is yet another wonderful entry into an already long and successful line of educational computer games. Plus it's a fascinating romp through the solar system featuring awesome digitized photos from NASA's own files and a clever gang of otherworldly characters." WIZ gave the game an 80 (out of 100), PC Player (Germany) gave it a 73, PC Games (Germany) gave it a 69, and Power Play gave it a 62. Eugene Register-Guard said, "The graphics are gorgeous and the script witty." Charles Ardai wrote in Computer Gaming World in 1993 that "the game's quality [is] quite high" but criticized "its longevity, which is low," noting the small number of animations that, despite their high quality, often repeated. He concluded that "Carmen seems to be feeling the effects of middle age ... it seems to lack the staying power of the earlier games". A study done by Daily News found one 11-year-old participant named 'Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego?' (along with World) as the most fun thing they did on the computer in 1994. Tribune Business News assumed the game was being played by children just before they went to bed. Bustle deemed the theme song the second best Carmen Sandiego theme as it "brings the heat". Computer Software Review thought the school version provided "excellent support for classroom lessons." Geography of Home: Writings on Where We Live considered the pretense of playing a sleuthing detective while learning about space as a favourable alternative to the "slow", "plodding", "outdated", and "staid" use of non-interactive books.
A board game version was produced by University Games.
A survey conducted by Kindsay staff reporters showed that 8-year-old students felt the game was too difficult, though they appreciated that it made learning about space and planets fun, and deemed it batter than other Carmen Sandiego games they'd played.
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