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Did the Scholastic Book Fair ever visit your elementary school?
One of the few things in my life to ever get me excited about looking at books,
Book Fair Day was something we all loved because not only did it get us out of class,
but also sometimes our parents would buy us something! What could be better?
To be fair, though, I wasn’t usually interested in the books that were being sold.
I was mostly concerned with the computer games they were peddling.
You even got sent home with a product catalog so you had something to frantically point at
as you desperately beg your parents to part with their cash.
But as much fun as this was, I also remember getting screwed over by these catalogs.
I wanted the version of Kid Pix that was in my computer lab,
but I ended up with Kid Pix Deluxe 3, which was not nearly as good.
And at one point I really wanted Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,
but all Scholastic offered was Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego.
So is this game a triumph of the Scholastic catalog,
or just another Kid Pix Deluxe 3 disappointment?
[KPD3 jingle] ~Kid Pix, Kid Pix~ Come on and play with Kid Pix~
You’re garbage, you hear me?
RIP Kid Pix 2017
Let’s find out!
Carmen Sandiego is a worldwide super thief and her main claim to fame is that
nobody knows where the heck she is.
Where in the World is she, Where in Space is she, What Point of Time is she in?
One game even narrows her location down to North Dakota and still nobody knows where she’s at!
She’s like Where’s Waldo except she’s a wanted criminal.
I think Waldo may have just wanted to blend in and be left alone.
Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure why we spent so much time looking for him.
[Sandiego]: It’s time to contact my collection of crooked compadres.
My coast-to-coast crime spree is about to begin.
[Ian] Carmen has already swiped various American treasures,
and now she’s got her eye on America’s greatest treasure–
which they don’t actually specify in the intro.
Our goal as a gumshoe is to track down the precious pilfered items
lock up the lesser criminals in cahoots with Carmen,
and eventually track down Sandiego herself.
[Chief] Hello, and welcome to ACME.
I’m the Chief, but don’t just think of me as your boss,
think of me as your co-worker, AND your boss!
[Ian] This is the Chief,
a character recognizable to many who were elementary school students in the 90s.
Not only did she appear in the computer games,
but in the PBS game shows as well,
and she was always there to give you a new case, some helpful advice,
and pats on the back when you’ve successfully completed a mission.
[Chief] I’m sending you to solve a Mississippi rip-off.
The Delta Queen riverboat has rolled up and down the mighty Mississippi River for more than a century.
But today, she’s dead in the water because someone pilfered her paddle wheel.
Your job is to capture that crook and get that ship in shape again!
[Ian] The object we’re trying to recover, in this specific case,
someone stole a paddle wheel to a boat–
which is a really cool and exciting thing to steal, huh, guys–
is really of no consequence outside of choosing where we start our investigation,
because the investigations all play out in the same way, no matter what object you’re tracking down.
I wish we got some more insight as to how these objects were stolen,
because the cover shows her stealing a bridge with a helicopter and a giant net, which is just insane!
Here in Natchez, Mississippi, there are a few witnesses wandering about.
You can ask each person where the suspect went and ask about their appearance, which is easy enough, right?
Well, it would be, except everyone in this stupid country speaks in riddles.
[Person A] His mop of hair reminded me of a bat!
[Person B] His head was covered by more than hair!
[Person C] His hair made me think of octopus ink.
[Ian] You guys know I’m looking for a career criminal here, right,
not Dr. Seuss?
This is serious business, okay? I’ve got to find a paddle wheel!
It doesn’t get more serious than that!
You can also find various scraps of paper on the ground that act as clues because these “professional criminals”
have left a paper trail large enough to fill a library or two.
If you’d like to learn more about the place that you’re currently in,
you can always call up a guide and get an exclusive one-on-one tour of the town.
[nyooms all over the screen]
[Guide] Whoa! I have an idea comin’ atcha!
Don’t let the youthful looks fool you– I’m a regular Titan of Tinkering!
One of my favorite figures in history of the Old West has to be Grenville Dodge, the Titan of Tinkering!
Here’s a Union Pacific Historical Museum, loaded to the caboose with history mementos about the U.P.,
the nation’s first Titan of Tinkering!
The Transcontinental Railroad made it much easier for settlers to tinker my caboose.
This resulted in a lot of growth and progress,
but also in a few sad changes like the rapid disappearance of buffalo herds and native Indian cultures.
Want to hear a few more tidbits?
As you follow clues and hop from state to state,
you’re also constructing a warrant so when you finally locate the criminal, you can make an arrest.
It’s important to get your warrant exactly right, which makes it all the more frustrating
that these people speak in riddles. Listen, I am a professional Acme gumshoe,
and if you say ‘he was a hooded hood’ instead of ‘he wore a hat’,
I reserve the right to slap you in the throat.
Once you have your warrant complete and you’ve tracked down the crook,
it’s time to take them to the slammer by very professionally shouting in a very professional manner:
[Thief] Pleased to meet you.
*saxophone music plays*
*long sax note*
Beau Zoe captured! Mississippi thanks Rookie Ian for the return of the the Delta Queen.
And what a great photo right there. Now that’s a front-page photo if I’ve ever seen one.
It’s not like you could have put my face on the front page or anything, right?
Is there not enough room for my forehead on this newspaper? What’s the deal?
Cracking cases brings you ever closer to Carmen Sandiego and you also get to rise the ACME ranks
from Rookie all the way to Super Sleuth, which is when you finally get to go after the master thief herself.
That means you’ll need to play at least 39 cases before you get to Carmen Sandiego,
and that’s only if you solve all of them. You can fail cases a couple different ways.
This high-tech gadget, known as the ACME wake up, who knew, it’s me, it’s you, get a clue case pad
operates with a limited amount of battery power which you use up by talking to witnesses,
and traveling from place to place.
If you run out of battery, the case is over,
because here at ACME, we don’t believe in recharging things. Are you insane?!
What’s worse, though, is that your warrant needs to be EXACTLY right when you make your arrest.
Female, blonde, tall, and wearing glasses all check out,
but because I had the gall, the nerves, to describe her weight as average,
apparently she just gets away.
Carmen Sandiego is one of those games that is really good at what it does,
but what it does is not all that interesting to me.
The idea of tracking down criminals is a great one,
but the focus on geography is where it kind of loses me.
It’s not a topic I was ever very good at or really interested in.
Since cases don’t take too long to complete, though, it was an amazing game for school computer labs.
Even though I had a home copy, I mostly remember playing the game at school.
And although it doesn’t have the staying power like some of my edutainment favorites,
I still think it’s a great piece of software for the recommended age groups
because it’s one of the only games I can think of that tried to teach me geography.
It’s just not a subject I remember being covered very well in the edutainment space.
So, thanks so much, Carmen Sandiego, for making geography fun for kids like me.
I still do not know very much about geography, but hey it was fun, so that’s-
[Guide] -the regular Titan of Tnkering!
[Voiceover] Mmm, what a hamburger!
♪ outro music ♪