Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?
Story: Bored with simple geographical mayhem, Carmen Sandiego and her educationally oriented crooks have taken to the time stream in order to steal lucrative items like gameboards and dogs. These masters of bland pilfering are known as V.I.L.E: The Villains International League of Evil. Yes, all the thieves you face have pun nicknames such as Lynn Gweeny, Russ T. Hinge, Sharon Sharalike. I honestly thought about putting a joke about thieves named Amanda Hugandkiss or Hugh G. Rection., but I don't like to kick a game while it's down.
Considering the relative success of their last campaign of terror when they attempted to hide things all over the world, V.I.L.E may have downgraded their plans to "stealing knick-knacks and make a killing at the Antique Roadshow". Being completely creamed by an army of twelve year old detectives can take a huge chunk out of your street cred and self esteem. Then again, so can being a criminal with the name "Earl E. Bird."
You begin this game as a lowly boot-licking gumshoe in the year 1993 at the ACME Detective Agency, arch rivals of V.I.L.E. First things first, you receive your standard issue TIME TRAVELING DEVICE. Most video games that include science fiction go out on a limb and say "in the future" or at least a lazy 199X. I guess the truth isn't something listed on this history exam. Using your TIME TRAVELING DEVICE you must track down these criminals and bring them to pixilated justice.
Gameplay: To capture one of these criminals you need two things: their final hideout and a warrant. Their final hideout is determined by following their trail throughout the time stream. Your first location may drop a clue "he wants to make Mozart play 'Rock me Amadeus". With travel options limited to 1940s Australia, 500 BC USA, and 1750 Austria, you can imagine which option you should choose. Every step of the way you will know you made the right decision if a V.I.L.E agent appears. Do you capture them? Hell no! You've got more important things to do, like ask people questions to figure out what your culprits hair color is. Because if you don't have that warrant before you get to the thief, you lose the round.
Do you really need a warrant for someone who is obviously from another time era? I would assume having a time traveling device would give you sufficient reason to bust someone. If I walk down the street with a bazooka, I don't think the police need to find out my favorite author, artist, and hair color before they can arrest me.
Once this warrant is in your cold, dry hands your capture robot comes to non-life, eyes teeming with bloody vengeance. The suspects tug on your shirt and beg for mercy before they're thrown to the ACME interrogators. You brush them off like a fat man brushing off ants from his Star Trek themed "Porka Khan" burger.
Graphics: I could go on and on about no-neck cowboys, sparse graphics that are spread across this game like the stingiest cream cheese administrator, but then this frame came along. It is a very stellar piece of pixel art that must have taken a long time to build. Yes, it probably sucked all the time out of the graphics department and ruined this entire game. Yes, it probably is a happy accident caused by them letting the intern who still had a soul left do work. Yes, it probably is rasterbated and spread across my wall right now.
Enemies: V.I.L.E agents pop out of the woodwork to shoot bullets at you, throw arrows, just gawk at you, or toss boulders from a catapult. This doesn't do anything but it's fun to watch once. Not thirty times.
Defining Moment: Finding out time travel devices came out in 1993, which kind of makes me angry. The only thing remotely close to time traveling I ever did in 1993 was when I choked on a plum and start hallucinating that I was a tyrannosaurus rex with a smoking jacket and a fez living in the 1950s.
My conclusion after doing all of this learnification? Mixed. The mission of learning historical facts worked but unfortunately came with the fatal flaw of having absolutely no confidence in my answers unless a neckless cowboy appeared and tried to shoot me. Do they have many of those in Portland?
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).