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Video Game / Carmen Sandiego: Treasures of Knowledge

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Carmen Sandiego: Treasures of Knowledge is a 2001 point-and-click edutainment adventure game released by The Learning Company as part of the Carmen Sandiego franchise.
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What starts out as a normal mission for ACME veteran Julia "Jules" Argent and the tech-savvy new recruit Shadow Hawkins turns into a large goose chase when Carmen begins stealing seemingly random artifacts, from a rare Franco-Italian edition of "The Travels of Marco Polo" to a wooden Maori carving, which Jules believes is leading to something much grander in scale.

The game divides itself into eight missions, with the first seven focused on retrieving the stolen artifacts and the final mission focused on catching Carmen.

Treasures of Knowledge takes a massive departure from previous Carmen Sandiego games; no punny names, no comedic VILE henchmen, and no humorously Impossible Thefts. The game also takes the plot quite seriously, with the few humorous lines of dialogue coming from Jules and Shadow's witty banter.

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Treasures of Knowledge displays the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Jules is not only one of ACME's top agents, she was also Carmen's former partner.
  • Artistic License – Geography
    • Russia on the game's world map, for some reason, uses Soviet Era borders, meaning Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are still part of Russia.
    • Apparently the apartment Jules and Shadow visit in New York is located on Liberty Island, with the Statue of Liberty not that far from the building.
  • Asian and Nerdy: While it isn't exactly stated where Jules hails from, she certainly gives off this vibe.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Shadow Hawkins.
  • Belated Backstory: Carmen's backstory is greatly expanded upon. In this universe, she's a former child prodigy who supposedly founded VILE after a falling out with Jules, who used to be her partner.
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  • Big Brother Is Watching You: No matter where you travel, no matter how far ahead you think you are, Carmen and the rest of VILE have close eyes on you, something that Jules and Shadow will comment on frequently.
  • Big Eater: Shadow always appears to be hungry.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's always at least one background person in some countries that say "hello" to you in their native language when clicked on.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As usual, Carmen gets away, but Shadow comes very close to catching her. However Carmen leaves the lost city's treasures behind so ACME can donate them to a museum.
  • Child Prodigy: Carmen was one back in the day. A newspaper clipping found in a VILE henchmen's getaway car reveals she won a quiz show at a young age and used the prize money to travel the globe.
  • Cool Boat: The Golden Lion, a yacht rented out by VILE that shows up in Cape Town's harbor and later along the Amazon River.
  • Darker and Edgier: While not as dark as Word Detective, the game is less comedic than other entries in the series and has more serious and realistic characters. At one point Carmen even flirts with the idea of locking Jules and Shadow in the treasure room forever, something that Jules thinks is too far even for her.
  • Endless Daytime: Almost every country you visit will always be during the daytime. You could travel halfway across the world and it will still be daytime. Averted on two occasions, where both England and Canada can be visited at night.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The game proper opens with Shadow scaling a building which he then breaks into. Jules? She took the elevator.
  • Evil Laugh: Carmen sports an impressive one in the opening cutscene.
  • Expy: Shadow is one to Zack.
  • 15 Puzzle: A 3x3 picture variation appears on a door at Fort Jesus in Kenya where the Marco Polo book is located.
  • Good Ol' Boy: Shadow makes references to growing up on a horse ranch.
  • Going in Circles: One of the treasures, a fish-shaped gong, is hidden in Quebec, which is where you start that mission. Lampshaded by Shadow when he realizes Carmen did this intentionally and calls her out for it.
  • "I Know You're In There Somewhere" Talk: Jules desperately wants Carmen to turn herself in and see the error of her ways and tries to tell her this when confronted in the lost city's treasure room.
  • Jump Scare: A relatively minor one happens in Antarctica when a VILE henchmen peers his head through the window of a research facility. You really are being watched.
  • Leitmotif: A little ditty is played every time you visit a country.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Jules and Shadow always wear the same clothing no matter where they travel. Yes, even Antarctica. That skimpy jacket ain't gonna protect you from below-zero temperatures, Jules. The same can be said for Shadow. Even in hot climates like Australia, Egypt, and Jordan, he's still wearing that heavy vest.
  • My Greatest Failure: One of Jules' journal notes reveals she thinks it was her fault that Carmen left ACME to found VILE in the first place.
  • Mythology Gag
    • The leitmotifs mentioned above are sampled directly from the 1996 version of World.
    • A two-fer regarding Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?:
      • The Chief is once again an African-American woman.
      • Carmen's backstory regarding winning a game show as a kid hearkens back to the franchise's past as a game show.
  • Noodle Incident: We're never explicitly told what exactly happened between Carmen and Jules that led Carmen to quit ACME, but whatever it was, Jules is still kicking herself for letting it happen and her fellow ACME agents won't let her forget it either.
  • Properly Paranoid: Professor Lonsdale, a retired professor residing in Greece that helps Jules and Shadow translate messages written in dead alphabets. When he is first brought up, the Chief and Jules reveal he never uses his phone as he believes it is bugged by VILE agents. Later on, during the final mission, he tells the duo in a letter he's thinking of fleeing the country to somewhere safer.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: A VILE henchmen in Thailand requests a CD of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker in exchange for a clue needed to find the Maori mask Carmen steals in the second mission.
  • Red Herring: Each mission will have at least one country you can visit that has no relevance to the mission at hand. Jules and Shadow will always point this out when they land, usually along the lines of "Are you sure this is the right place?" or "Doesn't look like there's any VILE activity here."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shadow's Red to Jules' Blue.
  • Running Gag:
    • Whenever the two stumble upon a restaurant in the country they're in, expect Shadow to complain about the lack of hamburgers on the menu.
    • Carmen also has a nasty habit of hijacking Jules and Shadow's phone conversations with the Chief.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The owner of a pub near Warwick Castle got so spooked by flashing lights coming from an impossible room in the castle that he moved to New York, taking a poem with him that Jules and Shadow need to find a stolen artifact.
  • Sigil Spam: Each artifact Carmen steals has a strange wheel symbol on it. In the middle of the wheel is a small indent where a jewel used to be. A few missions in, this symbol suddenly begins appearing everywhere, from stained glass windows to gold medallions. Turns out the symbol is part of the lost city, with each space in the wheel corresponding to each artifact that Carmen steals in order to find it.
  • Take Your Time: Unlike previous games in the franchise, this game isn't timed and jumping back and forth between countries has no negative consequences.
  • Toilet Humor: Not in the story itself, but one of the gadgets Shadow starts with is a translator, which teaches players how to say certain phrases in different languages. One of these is "Where is the bathroom?" which younger players will find amusing.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Shadow sure loves his hamburgers.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never learn who exactly the mysterious explorer is. The few things we learn about him is that he has since passed away, and that his initials are V.J.G.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Throughout the game, ACME field agents, seen and unseen, will give the two various gadgets including a scanner, a grapple launcher, and a phone call interceptor.
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