Carmen Sandiego on Facebook: Promote this gem to comissioner

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Carmen Sandiego City Screen
Remember bringing an encyclopedia to school on computer class day just to increase your chances at bringing Carmen Sandiego to justice? Alright, maybe I was the only kid who was that devoted, but Oregon Trail creator Blue Fang and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's The Learning Company understand. Both based in Massachusetts, the two companies joined forces to bring the international detective series into the social age of gaming. Players assume the role of an international detective, following clues across the globe with the help of their friends and eventually locking up suspects. They will increase in level and gain promotions with friend recommendations, which will open more cases and ultimately lead to hunting down the elusive Carmen Sandiego.

"When we approached [Carmen Sandiego], we wanted to make the best Carmen Sandiego experience period," says Blue Fang studio director Eduardo Baraf. "It wasn't about necessarily about building it to the definitions of the Facebook platform." And after a detailed preview with Laura Rapalski, the game's producer, it's hard to not feel at least optimistic.
Case Select Screen
It's immediately noticeable upon entering the game that Blue Fang was faithful to the source material. While this edition of Carmen Sandiego takes on a more modern look than its predecessors, its influences are apparent through both the game's layout and presentation. It's refreshing to see how faithful Blue Fang remained to the locations in the game as well, displaying the signs of buildings in a country's native language. (Remember, Carmen Sandiego is an educational game.) Just like the original you will take on cases, find clues narrowing down the potential suspect, issue a warrant and make the arrest.

Not much has changed when it comes to this core (if repetitive) play style, but it's the enhanced social interaction and how the game takes advantage of the Facebook platform that make it unique. While on your travels, every stop made internationally consumes time. Each case can only be solved in a certain amount of time, so paying attention to the clues carefully pays off. But think of the time you have as if it were Energy in another social game; players can pay up in Facebook Credits or tap their friends to save travel time. But that still doesn't save you from figuring out the clues and using them effectively.

Luckily you have your Facebook friends to help you. Players can ping one another for help with clues via News Feed posts. This clever feature isn't linear in that a friend responds to the request by pressing a button-they'll have to answer as best they can naturally. "The effect with some of the questions is that's how people end up having a conversation about the cities and where they've been," Baraf says. "Ultimately, starting the dialog and having these exchanges will be rewarding as well because Carmen Sandiego has always been an international product."

Received a Clue
It looks like this will promote brainstorming and critical thinking as well, but there's always Google. In fact, the team even expects you to use search engines in replace of the encyclopedia we all had at our side while playing as kids. Once a case is solved, it's essentially rinse and repeat. But finding Ms. Sandiego will later become much more dangerous.

While your friends can help you during cases in many ways, that might not be their purpose forever. Blue Fang hinted that players can define their own features through a character sheet as if they were suspects. Currently, this is just for show, but as the game progresses this information will become extremely important. Again, it's clear why Blue Fang was chosen to take on this series. Regardless of whether Blue Fang can pull off a smooth launch, Carmen Sandiego for Facebook looks like more than just a social adaptation of the original games. This is the next step for the franchise.

Click here to play Carmen Sandiego on Facebook Now>

Are you excited to try Carmen Sandiego? What other classic adventure games would you like to see come to Facebook? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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