*Carmen Sandiego Math Detective *

Ages 8-14 (Math for 4th, 5th and 6th Grades)

Carmen Sandiego doesn't disappoint. There is enough adventure in the game to keep kids staying around to solve the math problems. The game is nicely structured into the adventure part - exploring various hangouts of Carmen's VILE crew to find the clues to solve the disappearance of various national treasures - and the math solutions part. It seems appropriate that breaking codes and deciphering clues would involve math. Players are given enough time to solve problems - there is only one with an obvious time limit - the atom smasher, otherwise players are nudged to proceed onward by the appearance of Carmen's VILE henchmen. The graphics are elaborate and give the feeling of actually using complex equipment to solve the problems - another way to keep attention on the math.

There are exercises in the standard 4 - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; a Crime Wave Sensor to fill in the missing parts of an equation; the Molecular Scope to transform word problems into numerical equations; a Light Spectrometer to order numbers which gets challenging when doing fractions and decimals; and a Microchip Decoder which requires geometry to find solutions. This last case presents geometry as a tool to solve problems and makes Eculid's proposition meaningful. In fact all the lessons create the feeling that knowing math is a handy skill to have around.

Regarding girl/boy stuff. While Chase Devineaux, the handsome male agent is your main contact, it is the aura of Carmen that permeates these games. This sultry, smart and now even sexier female is a worthy adversary and even though you may foil her this time - she will be back.

Reviewed by Genevieve 9/99