Carmen Sandiego Math Detective
Is a criminal mastermind stealing your child's interest in math? Evidence: Math Detective, one of the new Carmen Sandiego games. Beneath a thin game veneer it force-feeds some rather dreary drills.
Math Detective begins suspensefully enough as you infiltrate Carmen's underground headquarters. The gal in the red fedora is revealing her plan to shrink some large treasures (like the Golden Gate Bridge) into gems with her invention, the Quantum Crystallizer. Secretly working for the forces of good, you have the assignment of restoring everything to proper size. You do this by decoding passwords with your snazzy Cybercom math cruncher, grabbing the gems and putting them back into the Quantum Crystallizer.
So far so good. But you soon realize that the math drills go on far too long. The crystal hideaways are bleak and dull, and you don't really seem to be catching thieves. My eight-year-old daughter, Julia, who actually asks us to buy math workbooks, quickly gave up.
To reassure ourselves that Carmen had not lost it, we fired up the new Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? and breathed a sigh of relief to find it entertaining and even (shh!) educational.