Carmen Sandiego Returns – A Triumphant Reappearance?

2.0 Overall Score
Gameplay: 2/5
Design: 2.5/5
Duration: 2/5

Carmen Sandiego theme | Nice deduction of suspects system | Easy to play

Overly simplistic gameplay | Bland mechanics | Short missions

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Get ready for a blast from the past with Carmen Sandiego Returns. The international woman of mystery, and her V.I.L.E. Henchmen are in a new game on iOS in honor of the 30th anniversary of Carmen Sandiego. Carmen Sandiego Returns is an adventure game in which you play as an ACME agent who’s tasked with tracking down V.I.L.E. Henchmen across the globe. It wouldn’t be Carmen Sandiego without world travel, and you will need to go to multiple locations to track clues to nail down the suspect.
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Carmen Sandiego Returns revolves around three main portions of the game beginning with a hidden object challenge. You drag your finger over a scene to see when the marker “gets warm” to find a potential clue. Once you gather the clues at a given location, you can then use location clues to travel to the next destination. Each location includes a different hidden object scene to peruse and find clues, and there are also occasional mini-games for clues. The main clues are the suspect clues, and you have a database of suspects that you can whittle down with dropdown menus that can be filled in with the clues you find. For example, you’ll find out the suspect has blonde hair, likes to rock climb, and is good at picking locks, and that will lead you to specific suspects. Once you find a suspect, you have an auto runner set-up in which you swipe to avoid obstacles to run through the underground tunnels of V.I.L.E. Headquarters.

There’s a definite nostalgia appeal of Carmen Sandiego Returns for some, but the game seems to use that idea as a crutch. Taking Carmen Sandiego Returns as a stand alone title, regardless of theme, there just isn’t much to it. The gameplay is overly simplistic with obvious objects to find, and rudimentary mini-games. You also spend more time in menus than playing, and it’s just a bland adventure. There are also just three cases for the purchase price, and each one is quick and easy to breeze through. The game includes three additional cases in a $1.99 in-app purchase, and that makes the original purchase feel that much shorter. The Carmen Sandiego theme can only take it so far, and everything else is lacking from gameplay to content with visuals in between.

Carmen Sandiego Returns ($1.99, Universal) has a promising pedigree, but with poor execution making it one to skip and a V.I.L.E. use of the Carmen Sandiego name.

$1.99, Universal


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