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Nightmare Fuel / Carmen Sandiego: Word Detective

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"So nice to eat you, ACME agent!"
Carmen Sandiego: Word Detective is intended for young players (6-12 years), like all other Carmen Sandiego games. However, younger children might actually be frightened by this game for numerous reasons:
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  • You actually see people captured, mind raped, and held hostage. They can't move due to being restrained, and when they try to voice their protest, all that comes out is a garbled mess.
  • The environments have a much darker tone and color schemes to them. One is set in a graveyard at midnight (where a known vampire lives), one an ancient Egyptian Tomb, one in a mad scientist's lair, etc. And all of these places are completely deserted, lending a nice dose of uneasiness to the atmospheres.
  • The music is also much less upbeat than in previous games. While most of the pieces aren't scary in and of themselves, one piece that plays in the background of Esther Odious, Doug Grave, Nick Furtive, and Dr. Ima LeZard's hideouts whenever your radar detects that they're close by really takes the cake for creepy even without the hideouts. It consists of minimalist pizzicato strings playing short phrases that start off soft and build up volume to a mildly loud but still very effective Scare Chord on their last notes. It really makes you feel like the villain is going to just jump out at you at any second without warning. Listen for yourself here.
  • Once you finish collecting passwords in a villain's hideout and start to transport away, they will appear and often catch sight of you. Not particularly scary, right? However, every time you use those passwords to unlock and secure the key you're after, the game points you in a certain direction and makes you watch as the villain of whatever hideout you're in at the time actively tries to harm you, even though you always escape in time. And since every hideout houses a key at different times, all of the villains get a turn. A couple of attempts are rather comical (Otto Readmore grabs a cart of books to throw at you, only to forget that it had books inside, which proceed to fall on his head and knock him out; I.I. Captain loses his balance when he attempts to lunge at you and falls off the banister he's standing on) but the others can get pretty scary - such as Queen Notalotenkammen's snake hissing in your face, Dr D. Ranged ripping his own hair out and laughing maniacally while activating his mummified Frankenstein's Monster, Esther Odious' vicious pet dog running for you with bared fangs, Nick Furtive walking towards you intent on a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, freaking monsters and aliens about to grab or bite you... Yeah.
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    • What's worse, the action freezes at just the right (or wrong) moment, giving you a great view of the alien about to bite your face off or the sword that's centimeters away from your face. Brrr....
  • Carmen's master plan in this game, as explained by her and Chase, is pretty horrifying in its implications. The Babble-On Machine has the ability to completely destroy speech—and not in a silly way, but one that completely degenerates all forms of talking by directly affecting the part of the brain that controls language. There isn't even a pattern to the garbled sentences that would allow people to work out how to communicate—it's implied that the order of the syllables is different each time someone speaks. An e-mail from Chase Devineaux reveals that the machine also works on print, which would destroy the concept of written language as well. All of this adds up to a system that makes communication completely impossible—and Carmen comes extremely close to unleashing it on the entirety of the world. It's a good thing you foil the plan, because if you didn't...
    • For reference: Ra's al-Ghul once tried to kill 90% of the human race through this exact method, and damn near succeeded.
  • In order to progress through the game the player has to repeatedly test their English skills by spelling/unscrambling words, learning about suffixes and prefixes, doing word searches, etc. The puzzles which involve spelling words often put context to those words by having them be blanks in larger sentences. Some of these sentences relate to the V.I.L.E Villains whose hideouts you're going after. Although a few are funny, some of them can be disturbing in their implication. Such as one particular sentence about Dr D. Ranged chasing down one of his escaped "patients".
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