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Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Lady Liberty Larceny Review

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On 01/21/2012 at 10:00 PM by Nick DiMola

Do it Rockapella!

A decent learning tool for 7-10 year olds.

Funny enough, I never realized that Carmen Sandiego began as a computer game series, only later hitting TV screens with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. As such, Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Lady Liberty Larceny is more a return to form than a modern adaptation of a childhood classic. Thankfully, the developers have applied some modern game design to the over 20 year old franchise, taking cues from the Professor Layton series. While on the short side, this adventure in math will provide some reasonably challenging math-based puzzles for the proper age group as well as a cursory glance at some world geography.

Players begin their quest in Tribeca, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan. As it turns out, the Statue of Liberty has been stolen in the middle of the night and only a select few people saw anything at all. By talking to the locals, searching for clues, and solving puzzles, players will open up the case, uncovering hints to identify the perpetrator of the crime. As with past Carmen Sandiego productions, the list of perps are a quirky set of criminals that work for the V.I.L.E. organization headed up by the titular character.

Unlike the Professor Layton series, players will find themselves controlling a character in a 2D landscape. Each location is a very small area complete with two or three NPCs and a doorway that leads into an enclosed area, like a shop or a house. Progressing through the game will require talking to all of the NPCs in each area, where they will either provide you with an item that will eventually be useful, a small tidbit of information, or a puzzle to solve. Depending on the context of the conversation, new locations in Shanghai, Berlin, or New York City can be opened up.

While the math puzzles are the predominant educational portion of the game, the NPCs also dispel some knowledge depending on their locale. Berlin inhabitants make it a point to mention the Berlin Wall and they'll even say some words in German. Other factoids are intermixed by your sidekick when you first arrive in new locations.

The actual puzzles progressively get more complex, starting with simple tasks like mapping a coordinate and ending with a task that requires the player to calculate a list of numbers using only a couple digits and two functions (like addition and multiplication). Some puzzles require pattern recognition and finding three values by only knowing what different combinations of the values add up to.

What's nice is that the game allows you to scan each locale for hint coins, which can be used during puzzles if you're stumped. Of course, this is a well known portion of Professor Layton. Also like Layton, each puzzle is worth a certain number of points and using hint coins or getting a wrong answer will drop the number of points you earn on the puzzle. These points level up your player rank, but the game didn't make it clear why your rank was important.

The real shame here is that there are only ten puzzles in the whole game. More often, I'd be bouncing around from area to area talking to different people collecting a laundry list of items in order to complete some task for a person I talked to. Instead of all of this filler, more puzzles would've been a preferable way to pad the game.

Despite the short length and low puzzle count, Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Lady Liberty Larceny was not a bad game. Seven to ten year olds will definitely be challenged and at only $6, it's not a bad way to engage your kids with some interactive learning.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

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A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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