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Review CornerSoftware
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Treasures of Knowledge
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
This program offers kids an outstanding method of learning about the world on both entertaining and educating fronts. As children attempt to solve an intriguing mystery, they actively learn geography facts. This update to an already excellent series features a more sophisticated story line and improved graphics.
Award
Ages: 9 to 13   Subject: Geography   Brand: The Learning Company
Review Sections: Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
"Catch me if you can" is Carmen Sandiego's taunt before she runs off with a rare book, "The Travels of Marco Polo," in this program's fabulous opening animation. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Treasures of Knowledge is the latest title in a powerful series that teaches kids geography. Players are introduced to two new ACME agents — Jules and Hawkins — and guide them on mini-missions that take them around the globe in their efforts to catch the elusive Carmen Sandiego.

Equipped with a number of high-tech gadgets and a database of information that includes National Geographic content, kids "travel" to different countries, uncovering clues and solving puzzles. As they do, they learn interesting facts about each location. First stop is Rio de Janeiro, where kids explore a bookstore, read up on various facts about Brazil, examine messages, and collect clues that lead them to another location in the world.

The story line in this latest Carmen Sandiego title is especially rich and engaging. In each of the program's eight missions, Carmen steals something and a global chase ensues. Solving one mission leads to another, and as players advance, they learn of a larger mystery to solve. They even get a chance to explore the reasons behind the ACME traitor's crimes.

Information tidbits are found everywhere — players need to explore every screen, and many of the hotspots prompt characters in the game to provide key facts about the country they are visiting. Players must meet with characters and listen carefully to what they have to say — you never know who will provide them with an important clue! A talking translator helps with key phrases in a number of foreign languages, and players can get help by communicating with the Chief.

Educational opportunities are rich. Children do research, learn facts, and then apply their knowledge in order to advance in the game. Logic puzzles need to be solved at various points along the way, and many of them unlock important clues. These range from a simple memory game in Japan to a more involved puzzle in Jordan that requires collecting pieces from a different location to complete.

The box says the game is appropriate for children ages eight-12, but most eight and nine year olds will find this software title too challenging.

Our copy came with a bonus in the box — an animated video entitled Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, and 8X CD-ROM. It requires 50 MB of hard drive space.

Skills Covered
Kids learn key facts about 50 countries — their geography and history. They learn to read maps, exercise deductive reasoning, develop reading and researching skills, follow directions, and collect data. The program's talking translator exposes kids to common phrases of a number of foreign languages.

Educational Value
Because children are exposed to geography facts within the framework of an exciting adventure, the learning opportunities are fantastic. Children engage in active learning — they not only reinforce key geography facts, they need to research, analyze, and apply their knowledge. Many of the hotspots in the various locations expand on the geography lessons — players hear native speakers talk, learn diverse facts, and get a feel for the culture of the land. Problem-solving skills and a sharp, observant mind are required to advance in the program.

Entertainment Value
The mysterious story line is the main draw of the program; its lush graphics, fun animations, and contemporary characters add to the program's appeal.

Design
This program's beautiful, well-thought-out design is refreshing — if only all software titles featured such attention to detail! Plenty of help is provided, and navigation is intuitive.

Replayability
This program is lengthy — motivated children will require many hours to complete the game. A completed mini-mission leads to the next in line, and children's interest levels build along with the story line.

Dollar Value
This CD-ROM carries a suggested retail price of $24.99 US.

Released: 2001
Reviewed: November 2001