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Video Game / Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (1989)

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The original version of Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? is an Edutainment Game released by Brøderbund Software in 1989. Unlike its 1997 remake, it follows the same strategy-based format as the earlier Carmen Sandiego games.
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As the title suggests, Carmen and her gang are now stealing from history, and you have to chase them through a series of different places and times. There are twelve countries you can visit across four time periods, giving you forty-eight possible destinations in total.

From a World Building perspective, this is notable as the first game in the series to establish that ACME headquarters is in San Francisco.


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This game provides examples of:

  • Casual Time Travel: Time travel is evidently commonplace enough that it's regulated by a "Federal Time Travel Commission." Moreover, the fact that Carmen and her thieves can travel in time doesn't seem to be regarded as noteworthy in-universe.
  • Copy Protection: As with other early Carmen games, it came with a book that you were expected to use as reference, but which also doubled as copy protection. In this case, it was a hefty paperback desk encyclopedia.
  • Imperial China: When China is visited in any time period other than the 20th century.
  • It's a Small World After All: As usual. For example, clues about Leif Erikson are supposed to direct you to the U.S.A. in the years 400-1300, but when you actually go there, you end up in a Pueblo village in the Southwest.
  • The Middle Ages: The earliest time period you can visit is the years 400-1300, which roughly corresponds to the Middle Ages.
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  • Present Day: The game is cleverly programmed to use the current year according to your computer's clock as the in-game present year.
  • Pretty in Mink: Carmen wears a red fur coat in the game's box art. She was also shown wearing a fur coat in the box art for earlier games, and this entry marks the last instance of that particular piece of Early Installment Weirdness.
  • Time Police: You, the player, are working as this. Though unlike in the game show and the 1997 version, no mention is made of the possibility that these thefts will Make Wrong What Once Went Right.
  • Time Machine: You travel through time using a device called the Chronoskimmer.
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