Last time we checked in on her, Carmen Sandiego had sent her minions out to steal St. Basil’s cathedral in Russia. This week, Sandiego has made her way over to India in Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Great Gateway Grab. With her eyes set on the Gateway of India, it’s up to you as an agent of ACME to solve the mystery and stop Sandiego’s V.I.L.E. minions before it’s too late!
The Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math series is an educational point-and-click adventure game series in which you must solve math-related puzzles to stop an absurd crime, each episode with a different mystery to solve. Pointing your Wii Remote towards the screen, most of the game simply involves you pressing the A button to guide your character across different flat terrains in order to talk to civilians and find clues that might help you solve the mystery at hand. Certain civilians will have information to offer up to you, but only if you’re willing to help them solve a puzzle or crack a combination to open a locked door. All of these puzzles, again, involve some sort of math problem.
As you explore the different cities in search of clues, you will also have the opportunity to find hidden hint coins. Cashing in your hint coins will allow you to receive extra tips in the math puzzles when you’re having a particularly difficult time and could use a little help.
Just like the previous episodes in this series, The Great Gateway Grab allows you to transfer your character data over from the previous games. While there’s no real or apparent advantage to transferring your data over, with the exception of also carrying over your hint coins, it’s still a nice touch. Being able to use your same character across all of the episodes provides a sense of continuity between them, even if it’s a thin strand.
Though The Great Gateway Grab is meant to be an edutainment title, there are only ten actual math puzzles in the entire game. The majority of gameplay here consists of talking to non-player characters and finding clues that will help solve the overall mystery. Not only does this unimpressive amount of math puzzles deter from the educational value of this title, but it also makes for a very short adventure. Most players, especially those familiar with the series, will easily solve the mystery of The Great Gateway Grab in under an hour. It should also be noted that with each play-through, the puzzles and clues remain exactly the same, making for little to no replayability.
The good news is that, just like everything else from previous episodes, the visual aesthetic of The Great Gateway Grab has remained untouched. The detailed backgrounds coupled with the more hand-drawn style cartoon characters makes for a very appealing visual aesthetic. The soundtrack, on the other hand, despite fitting the light-hearted and fun mood of the game, lacks variety and falls flat compared to the visuals.
Before you even read this review you probably knew whether or not you were going to purchase Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Great Gateway Grab. Fans of the series thus far won’t be disappointed in the least because, with the exception of having a different plot, this is essentially exactly the same as the previous episodes. Despite the moderate price-point of 600 Nintendo Points, less than an hour of gameplay with no replay value is a hard sell. Though consistency is an expected staple in episodic gaming, the unchanging nature of these games does absolutely nothing towards even attempting to attract new fans.