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Video Game / Carmen Sandiego's ThinkQuick Challenge

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Released in 1999, Carmen Sandiego's ThinkQuick Challenge is the first Carmen Sandiego game produced by The Learning Company, which took over the franchise after Brøderbund Software became defunct in 1998.

The premise of the game is that Carmen and her Rogues Gallery of six Master Thieves have created a fleet of KnowBots to steal various types of knowledge from the world. You, plus other players if you opt for multiplayer mode, fly around the world, defeating KnowBots by answering their questions. Once you've defeated enough KnowBots, you have the codes necessary to get into the lair of today's crook. But to finally enter the lair, you have to solve one of two logic puzzles. Whoever has the most "capture energy" left by this point gets to capture the thief.

ThinkQuick Challenge can be seen as a vague follow-up to Carmen Sandiego: Word Detective and Carmen Sandiego: Math Detective. Although the format and gameplay are completely different, it features many of the same characters, most notably Chase Devineaux, and has a similar storyline about Carmen using some new technology to up her game.


This game displays the following tropes

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Snarla Swing was a brunette in Word Detective, but now she's blonde.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Gnash seems to be the same character as Otto Readmore from Word Detective, but now he's Only Known By His Nickname and a nickname never heard before at that. More subtly, Dr. Ima LeZard, also from Word Detective, becomes Madame Le Zaarde. It's one thing to give her a different title and exclude her first name, but why is her surname now spelled differently?
  • Adventurer Outfit: Snarla Swing wears a safari costume, minus the shoes.
  • Alphabet Soup Cans: Possibly even more blatant than in Word Detective and Math Detective. You defeat the KnowBots by answering their educational questions. They even give you some helpful instruction as though they're trying to teach you their subjects rather than to outsmart you with them.
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  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Count Hypno
  • Cardboard Prison: An Implied Trope. You keep capturing the same six thieves over and over again, but there's never any mention of a jailbreak. Upon being captured, they do sometimes boast that they'll break out of prison, however.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Pure-E-Bot is very proud of how evil she is, complete with a Poke the Poodle attitude about her subject of geography. ("You will never know the dark secrets of geography!")
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: Technology-hating Snarla Swing goes barefoot.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Dr. Depth's hideout
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: KnowBots have a definite tendency to turn up in the vicinity of world landmarks. Oddly, averted with the Trope Namer. Going to France, you visit the Palais Garnier instead.
  • Endless Game: The game has no ending. You just keep capturing the same six crooks over and over again. The knowledge thefts eventually loop and Chase stops promoting you after you get to Juggernaut Agent.
  • Evil Is Petty: Some of the knowledge thefts have this as a motive. For example, Jane Reaction stole the knowledge of lasers because she wanted to get rid of laser pointers.
    Jane Reaction: Those red dots drive me crazy! (maniacal laughter)note 
  • Evil Luddite: Snarla Swing's motive for stealing knowledge is her hatred of technology.
  • Fiery Redhead: The redheaded Jane Reaction, so fiery that she has No Indoor Voice.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The six Master Thieves include three males and three females. The six KnowBots also consist of three males and three females.
  • Happy Dance: Your avatar will sometimes do one after getting a question right. Each avatar comes with a different dance. The KnowBots will often comment on or complain about your avatar's dancing. Being something of The Spock, HALie Bot is simply confused by it.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Count Hypno is hinted to have these. You're regularly warned not to look him in the eye, not that the game has any way of knowing whether you're doing it or not.
  • Knight Templar: While the other crooks seem to have purely selfish motives, Snarla Swing argues that her knowledge thefts will help the environment. She even calls you, the player, a "lousy environmentalist" for restoring the science of plastics. Essentially, she's a very G-rated version of an Eco-Terrorist.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: For Russia, the game has a CGI model of St. Basil's Cathedral in front of a 2D background of Red Square. The 2D background of Red Square is recycled from the 1996 version of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? with the result that St. Basil's Cathedral is placed in the wrong part of the square so that it's not on top of its 2D self. And if you look closely, the exterior shots of the ACME Academy use a 2D background of San Francisco that's also recycled from the 1996 version of World.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Cynic-Bot talks like Groucho Marx and does similar humor.
  • Obsessed with Food: Dim-Bot constantly complains about being hungry and wanting food, despite the fact that he's a robot.
  • Player Versus Player: In the optional multiplayer mode
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: You're offered male and female avatars, and it makes no difference which you select. Granted, your avatar doesn't actually do anything other than stand at a podium, press a buzzer, and dance after getting a question right. You can actually change avatars between missions, even switch genders in the process, and Chase will still recognize you as the same person.
  • Rogues Gallery: The six Master Thieves are a collection of colorful villains whom you capture over and over again. All but Count Hypno previously appeared in earlier Carmen Sandiego games. With their wacky personalities, the KnowBots are something of a Rogues Gallery too.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Cooperation vs. Competition: In multiplayer mode, the game is at the Emergent Competition level. The players are working together to complete the mission, but they're also competing amongst themselves to get the highest score and to be the one who captures the thief. It's very much in the spirit of the PBS Game Shows Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego.
  • Spock Speak: HALie Bot talks this way.
  • Spy Catsuit: Carmen occasionally wears one as an alternate outfit to her red trenchcoat and fedora.
  • Token Good Teammate: Touchy-Feely Bot seems to enjoy the young agents learning and doesn't act antagonistic towards them in the main parts of the game at all, unlike the other robots. On the other hand, she still self-destructs upon defeat (in an attempt to prevent the player from finding out where the bad guy of the day is hiding) and acts a bit more antagonistic (though not by much) in the "Sleuth" mini-games. Perhaps she's merely a downplayed example of Affably Evil.