This game plays a great deal like Word Detective, almost to the point of being a Mission-Pack Sequel. Instead of English, grammar, and spelling, the puzzles you must solve are math equations. Many of the tropes from Word Detective apply here.
Math Detective was the last Carmen Sandiego game produced by now-defunct Brøderbund Software, which originated the franchise. All subsequent games, starting with 1999's Carmen Sandiego's ThinkQuick Challenge, are produced by The Learning Company.
This game displays the following tropes
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: When Teri Yaki finds you in her Tokyo apartment, she comes at you with karate.
- Alphabet Soup Cans: Like in Word Detective, the puzzles you must solve have almost nothing to do with the locations of the lairs.
- Artifact of Doom: The Prometheus Rock, which was previously mentioned to be missing in Carmen Sandiego: Word Detective, is at the center of the Quantum Crystalizer. At the end of Math Detective, Chase destroys it.
- Big Blackout: As the game wears on, you hear more and more about the accelerating progress of a global "power drain." It's all part of Carmen's plan, of course.
- Collapsing Lair: Seems to be happening to Carmen's new headquarters at the end of the game.Chase: I guess that puts an end to your plans, not to mention V.I.L.E. Central.
- Covers Always Lie: The cover on the right side of this page suggests that the landmarks are merely shrunken. In the actual game, they're shrunken and placed inside a gem as, apparently, part of the same process.
- The Cracker: C.D. Romm is a hacker who uses his talents for V.I.L.E. His home is a Hacker Cave.
- Cyborg: Blona Fuse turns out to be one. One of the word problems mentions that she's interested in becoming human.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The game opens with you infiltrating one used by VILE.Chase: (Whistles) Some new headquarters! Carmen's really outdone herself.
- Exit Villain Stage Left: At the end of the game, Carmen exchanges a few words with Chase before escaping her base in a jet car of sorts.
- Fetch Quest: Retrieve the stolen monuments and return them to normal.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The whole "power drain" storyline has no real impact on gameplay. Granted, it would make sense for Carmen to spare the V.I.L.E. hideouts, but it also never affects your electronic toolbar nor does it ever impede Chase's ability to contact you by Video Phone.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Carmen does this when ordering her VILE henchmen to Get the ACME infiltrator.
- Lighter and Softer: The game is this compared to Word Detective—Carmen's back to pulling Monumental Theft again, not outright trying to destroy humanity's communications systems, and while her overarching plot to drain power from across the globe to fuel her own hideout is taken seriously, it lacks the implied horrors of a world without language.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Carmen's status as a former ACME agent was a major plot twist at the end of Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? Here, both Carmen and Chase casually mention her past work with ACME without any sort of comment.
- Lost in Transmission: Halfway through your last mission, you receive a text message from ACME, warning that ACME headquarters is in danger of being shut down by the power drain... and then the message cuts off at the end! (Not that this stops Chase from contacting you later.)
- The Mole: You are the mole at the beginning- up until Carmen gets wise. Your Hub Level is the chamber of the Quantum Crystalizer, with the rest of VILE sealed off outside.Carmen: Well, well, well. It seems we have an unexpected guest- or should I say, an uninvited pest. Get the ACME infiltrator!
- Monumental Theft: While Carmen has been noted to do this before, the whole gem thing is a new one. As the game goes on, we learn that Carmen's planning a lot more than just grand larceny...
- Noodle Incident: A case Chase and Carmen were on back when Carmen was with ACME plays a big part in this game.
- Polar Bears and Penguins: Blona Fuse's robot factory is supposed to be located on the Filchner Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Apparently, no one told the people who wrote the word problems because they describe her interacting with Eskimos and polar bears.
- Power Crystal: The Quantum Crystalizer runs on these, naturally.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Like in the previous game, collecting all the password clues in an area will result in a warning that either a V.I.L.E. agent or something dangerous is nearby, with Agent 9 teleporting out just before they're caught.
- Shrink Ray: The Quantum Crystalizer, essentially, with the added feature of placing the shrunken item inside of a gem.
- Towers of Hanoi: Variation, where you have to stack numbers sequentially and can never stack them out of order. Word Detective features an identical game, only with words instead of numbers.