Presented as an animated comic book, this mystery has Carmen and her gang (known as the Villains' International League of Evil or "V.I.L.E.") stealing the Statue of Liberty. By joining the ranks of the elite ACME crime-fighting agency, kids become the lead investigators of this crime and jet around the world looking for clues to solve this mystery. When three clues are found, the player can study the dossiers of the V.I.L.E.'s motley crew of criminals and deduce who is the villain.
Game play involves using the Wii remote to point and then press the "A" button to have your user-created gumshoe walk in the direction indicated. Every person you meet can be questioned, and it is through these interactions that the mystery plays out. Some people won't give you information until you do them a favor or find a specific object for them.
As an acclaimed ACME agent, you also have cool spy gadgets at your disposal, including a Scanner which, when activated by pushing the "B" button, can reveal hidden clues and hint coins. The latter can be used to help you solve the challenging math problems that are incorporated into this mystery. You also have a handy-dandy ACME phone that is programmed to do all sorts of things besides sending and receiving calls. It is your source for maps which let you zoom to new locations with just a click. It also automatically keeps a journal for you, so you can review the case; and it sends data back to ACME so that they can help you analyze things you find along the way.
The math shows up in 10 puzzles that are embedded in the mystery. Kids will need to identify right, acute and obtuse angles; solve equations using addition, subtraction, division and multiplication; graph coordinates on a grid; complete Tangrams puzzles and more. Each of these math problems are tied into the story so that kids see the need to use math. For example, while in Shanghai, you will discover that V.I.L.E. used a ship in part of their dastardly scheme. By looking at the schematics of four ships with their potential for holding cargo displayed in a color-coded manner, and then using the key to translate colors into numbers, kids are able to use math to identify which ship the villains used. This correct math calculation results in the head of the port authority being able to remember a personal characteristic of the villain -- one of your needed three clues.
This mystery game, which can be saved as often as you like, plays out over about a three-hour span. It is a riot to play because it is filled with hilarious dialogue, clever puns, and interesting scenes to explore. The jazzy yet suspenseful background music helps to set the mood, as does the ambient sounds at each new location.
It is not, however, very high tech. While most of the speech bubbles are spoken in characters' voices, don't expect great animations -- this game plays out as a roughly animated comic book. That said, it has an old-fashioned charm that works. Kids will be more interested in solving this compelling mystery than being dazzled by state-of-the-art graphics. And the mystery is good, spanning four world-wide locations, with each having four places within the city to explore.
Fun Math Problems to Solve
In addition to the mystery, the 10 math problems can be practiced on their own. And these problems are so interesting that kids will enjoy challenging a parent or a sibling to a "math-off" by playing the multiplayer game, where up to six players compete to finish the math problems in the least amount of time.
The Bottom Line
Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Lady Liberty Larceny makes doing math fun; and it also presents a great mystery story for kids to solve. If you have a Wii and kids the right age, don't miss this educational fun.
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