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Video Game / Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? (1997)

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We're on the case and we're chasing her through history!
1997's Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, later re-released by The Learning Company under the name of Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time, is a point-and-click Edutainment Adventure Game in the Carmen Sandiego series. Done in a style similar to Monkey Island, it was a unique Genre Shift from the typical strategy-based games, including the original 1989 version of this game.

This time, Carmen Sandiego has snatched a time device called the Chronoskimmer and has used it to send her fellow crooks back in time to prevent major historical events from ever happening. You, starting at the rank of Time Pilot, are called by the Chief (once again played by Lynne Thigpen) to travel through the time tunnels that lead to periods visited by the Chronoskimmer. You are accompanied by one of five "Good Guides": Ann Tickwitee, Rock Solid, Ivan Idea, Polly Tix, and Renee Santz, but cannot communicate with the Chief once you are in the time period. Once you set things right, you have to find where the thief is hiding, which can be done by finding the fragments of notes Carmen left for them.

There are nineteen cases in all. They and the tropes specific to them are listed here.

The time tunnels are now taking you to April 2004, where a certain wiki should have started covering tropes in television by now, but there aren't any tropes named yet. Go find out why, Time Pilot, and... don't lose track of time looking at the site.

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The manual points out that you couldn't really have spoken to most of the people you encounter. You also really couldn't have been able to approach any of the royalty figures and have a chat with them. It also is mentioned that a lot of liberties were taken, such as the shorter travel times in larger missions for this reason.
  • Adapted Out: Of the Good Guides from the previous remakes, only four return- Herman Nootix, Kim Yoonity, and Dee Plomassy are all missing. You could argue that Polly is a stand in for Dee, but the other two have no replacements.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • A lot of information is in the manual. Justified as you are supposed to read the Chronopedia.
    • The manual also reveals that the Time Cuffs were designed to detect the wavelengths of those who have traveled through time using the Chronoskimmer.
    • You wouldn't know one of the villains game even had a Punny Name unless you read the manual, as he's only called The Baron in-game. Turns out his name is actually Baron Grinnit. Which explains why he's always smiling.
    • The manual is also intended to serve as an educational aid as well - partly to explain the Acceptable Breaks from Reality.
  • Alphabet Soup Cans: Has a few justifiable examples, such as where one must use the accounting systems employed by the Incas, put movable type on the right way (backwards) or properly balance a brick of salt with gold to make a fair trade. A few were rather contrived, though— in 1776, you give Thomas Jefferson some paper so he can draft the Declaration of Independence before taking it to Continental Congress. Somehow, he completely forgets which order he wrote the clauses on during the trip.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In 1776, you have to fish out a box of tea from the Boston Harbour. Clearly, this is from the Boston Tea Party - but for those outside of the US & Canada, this wouldn't be obvious.
  • The Artifact: In previous Carmen games, promotions signal an increase in difficulty, with you having to make more stops before you can bust the crook. In this game, you're still given promotions every now and then, but the distinctive nature of each mission means that they no longer signal any obvious difficulty increase.
  • Awful Truth: Carmen Sandiego was once an ACME agent- one of the best agents, in fact- but she got bored and switched to becoming a criminal for thrills. The file that Carmen attempts to steal at the end details her past, which she wanted to erase. Fortunately, you and the ACME good guides stop her in time.
  • Behind a Stick: VILE crooks have the ability to hide anywhere, it seems. Places include inside a cub, a desk drawer, a map, a dumbwaiter, and a battery.
  • Canon Foreigner: Three of the villains - Jane Reaction, General Mayhem, and Dee Cryption - did not appear in the game show. Also, Polly Tix was not amongst the Good Guides in the previous remakes.
  • Cardboard Prison: So you captured all of the villains, right? Carmen comes in and breaks them out of prison. Defied right after, when the Chief informs you that the prison is upgraded with trans-temporal lasers.
  • Casting Gag: One of the voices Charles Martinet provides is that of William Shakespeare. Martinet was actually an actor in a Shakespearian theater troupe before getting into voice acting.
  • Changed My Jumper: Played very straight with the good guides, who think nothing of going back in time while wearing modern (and, in Ivan's case especially, very '90s-looking) clothes. One of the only people to comment is William Shakespeare, who refers to Renee Santz as "your stylish friend." Needless to say, Renee's outfit would in no way be in vogue during Elizabethan England. The head priest in ancient Egypt also comments that you and Ann Tikwitee are "scruffy-looking". The Japanese level provides a case of Oneshot Revisionism. If you try to go outside without putting on a kimono, Murasaki stops you by saying, "your curious clothing may cause a court scandal." Of course, this is only because kimonos are part of that level's puzzle.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: A few cases you have to pick up something and give it to them - naturally they will remind you of this, but not everyone does this. 1776 is quite arrant about this - three out of the four screens will have someone remind you what you need to give them right as you leave.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The ACME good guides versus any of the VILE henchmen, minus Dee Cryption, who is smart enough to bail out before Ivan goes after her and hide in a forcefield, forcing you to shut it down to arrest her. This makes their final victory against Carmen more meaningful; they have to all gang up on her because she keeps evading them.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Despite the Politically Correct History, this is touched upon. Several women will talk about the role of women in their times - notably Hatshepsheut and Murasaki. The only exception is Renee Santz, who is the one who tells you that yes, men did play female roles in Shakespeare's time rather than any native of the timeframe.
  • Developer's Foresight: You can try all sorts of things with items. You can try taking items you aren't supposed to (which results in an on-screen character saying "Hey! You can't take that!"), or handing an item to people or your good guide to have them either tell stuff about it or react to it. Or, most humorously, try and arrest the thief at objects you can click on... which includes people and yes, even the good guide.
    • The reactions can be rather humorous. Try using the battle axe on Rock Solid, and he'll say "OUCH! Don't cut me down to size!" and make a surprised face. Try arresting the good guide and they'll say a comment like "I don't think there's a crook in the crook of my elbow." or "Uh gee, I don't think there's a thief in my pocket, do you?"
    • There are a few cases in which you have a Point of No Return (Such as 1002), and the thief is arrested past that point. If it's possible to reach that without having fully assembled the Carmen Note, you will be barred from progressing until you obtain the Carmen Note.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Sir Vile is a bad guy, but the word "servile" means "having or showing an excessive willingness to serve or please others"
  • Energy Weapon: The ACME prison's second iteration has lasers instead of metal bars. This is presumably part of the same system that keeps Carmen from bailing out her cronies with the Chronoskimmer again.
  • Eternal English: Everyone speaks English, of course. Sometimes they have Poirot Speak (Gutenberg says "ach" and "bitte" a lot, Yuri Gagarin says "da" and "nyet" a lot, etc.) or Just a Stupid Accent.
  • Failed a Spot Check: You have to arrest criminals in rather... obvious places. (See Idiot Ball.) At least some spots make a bit of sense. (Such as how one time, Buggs Zapper is hiding underneath a table that has a cloth over it, or where Jane Reaction is hiding inside a bag attached to a llama.)
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • Carmen Sandiego speaks cordially to you, but she is determined to keep stealing.
    • Jacqueline Hyde manages this halfway. Her nice side mentions it's nice to see you again after you've arrested her, but her mean side gloats about Carmen succeeding.
  • Fetch Quest: Many, notably in Cases 3 and 5.
  • Genre Shift: As mentioned above, the original Where in Time from the 1980s played very much like Where in the World, only with picking the correct time period in addition to the location; this one is a linear adventure game akin to Monkey Island. The final level is much closer to the 1989 version.
  • Going Through the Motions:
    • Characters will use a single animation for the duration of their speech, which is ridiculous if they have more than a couple of sentences. Averted with Sacajawea—she actually will make several motions as she speaks to you, and you are in fact supposed to gauge that when she describes something, the corresponding motion is what the Shoshoni will recognize, since they don't speak your language.
    • In Mission 4, Murasaki looks sad in her animation, even after bringing the moon to her as she wanted. However, in the previous case, Leif Erikson's animation changes after bringing his crew to the shore. He starts off looking worried, but smiles for the rest of the case. Similarly in Case 14, Benjamin Franklin looks worried until the Declaration of Independence is signed, and smiles at the end of the case, and when you revisit him in the last case.
    • Many characters only change their speaking animation when they move areas, since the animators would have had to reanimate them in a new location. This includes Thomas Jefferson (Moving from Charlottesville to Philadelphia) and William the Conqueror (moving from the top of the castle to inside the banquet hall). Both characters smile in their second placing, since their problem has been solved.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Sir Vile is held by his whenever he gets captured.
  • Guide Dang It!: There are a few of these:
    • Beethoven's case actually does have a deaf-friendly version. Unfortunately, figuring out how to activate it isn't inherently obvious.
    • In 1776, you need to give a box of tea to some british soldiers. How do you get it? Fish it out of the Boston Harbour. The only way you can possibly guess that the Jetsam you can fish up is in fact a box of tea is by knowing of the Boston Tea Party. Definitely an easier puzzle for Americans and Canadians.
    • Invoked in 1004 - A piece of the Carmen Note is in one of the guards' rooms. However, nothing says specifically which room it is, so a player will have to brute force it... or check the manual, which includes it in the "hints" section.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Joe, the owner of Joe's Cotton Cornucopia, has one. Whenever he's reported about those requesting cotton in the middle of night or when there's someone else near his office, he'll certainly blow a fuse.
  • Heroic Build: Rock Solid is the largest and burliest man in the Acme Team.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Some of the hiding places the culprits choose tend to be places where they could seamlessly blend in with the historical surroundings.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • You often have to check locations that are out of place or hinted by Carmen to arrest the criminals. Several times it's actually kinda blatant, or where the criminal was hiding in plain sight. (Wouldn't Isabella have found something odd about a chart in her room? Shouldn't the person holding the camel Buggs Zapper was behind have noticed it was a cardboard cutout? Why in the heck did Beethoven not see a friggin' SOUSAPHONE in the orchestra?!? And how come Thomas Edison didn't see Dee Cryption hiding right behind a box in plain view of him? And Julius Caesar must have never looked behind the Ionic Pillar that had a crook behind it). The Beethoven one particularly deserves plenty of mention... for one, the crook was technically hiding in plain sight, Jacqueline Hyde had a sousaphone in an orchestra. Shouldn't Renee Santz have spotted something was up immediately? (Beethoven pointed out that it sounded odd.)
    • Carmen leaving behind the Chronoskimmer in Yuri Gagarian's time. This means that, as the chief points out, she can only use the tunnels she previously created rather than use new ones.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: On multiple occasions, the characters make puns.
  • It's Up to You: The good guides won't do much beyond occasional aid and bringing in the crooks. Finding everything and running the interrogations is your job.
  • Jerkass: The boss and guard of Joe's Cotton Cornucopia are unpleasant people.
  • Lightbulb Joke: Dee Cryption asks "How many ACME agents does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" in the Thomas Edison episode. This ends up being Tempting Fate as the same lightbulb that was screwed in destroys her forcefield that kept her from getting Time Cuffs slapped on her.
  • Mean Boss: Joe from Joe's Cotton Cornucopia doesn't respond kindly to the surly guard being outside the factory or the report that Ivan and the player want thread in the middle of the night.
  • No Indoor Voice: Big Boss Joe talks loudly, even though it's midnight. Strangely, there's no one to tell him to keep it down.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: While you do see plenty of characters speaking with accents, most people are speaking with American accents. This is somewhat justified in a pragmatic sense - as the characters would realistically be speaking a language or dialect that has not been spoken in centuries (millennia in the case of Rome & Egypt) and thus the voice actors would have almost no frame of reference for how these figures would speak modern English.
    • Some are done on purpose, such as William the Conqueror and a baron who supported William's claim to the English throne speaking with French accents due to being from modern-day France, or the "Redcoats" speaking with a much more obvious English accent to show their loyalty to the crown as well as being part of the British Military.
  • Pilgrimage: A level saw Ann Tickwitee investigating the theft of some salt (necessary for preserving food) from Mansa Musa's caravan as they prepared to set out on their historic Hajj in 1324.
  • Public Domain Artifact: One guard in 1004 will mention that his sword is apparently part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan - meaning it's the Kusanagi no Tsurugi. Of course, it's possible he could just be boasting...
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Any offscreen Curb-Stomp Battle between the Good Guides and the VILE agents. One notable one is Rock knocking out the Baron while they're both in the water.
    • Carmen getting past every person she meets in the final level when retracing her steps, including several that confront her for wearing red.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sometimes the accents of the characters aren't very good.
  • Politically Correct History: Zig-zagged mostly by omission, as this is a kid's game—but they actually do leave a few things in, such as how women in 11th-century Japan weren't allowed to read or write in Chinese or how female roles were performed by men in the 16th century. Played straight insofar as the ACME good guides, regardless of their race or gender, seem to be unimpeded by No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel.
  • Plot Hole: You don't arrest Dee Cryption in Disc 1, yet you see her in jail. How'd she get in there?
  • Punny Name: All five Good Guides have names based on their area of expertise (Rock Solid deals with exploration, Polly Tix with politics, Ann Tickwitee with ancient civilizations, Ivan Idea with inventions and Renee Santz with art), and all VILE agents have punny names based on their personality or modus operandi (Sir Vile the knight, Dr. Belljar the scientist, Baron Grinnit the aviator, Medeva the witch, Buggs Zapper the mobster, Jacqueline Hyde, who has two personalities, General Mayhem the military advisor, Jane Reaction the chemist, and Dee Cryption the hacker). The blatant punniness is even lampshaded with lines like "I wouldn't dream of sending you to the Renaissance without Renee Santz."
  • Race Lift: Ann Tikwittee was Ambiguously Brown in the 1996 versions of Where in the World/USA is Carmen Sandiego, but here her skin was lightened up and her features make her look more Asian. This is also carried over to Word Detective.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Lynne Thigpen's Chief seems to be the only live-action human in an otherwise all-animated universe. Don't ask why, she just is. (Though interestingly, the otherwise-cartoon Rock Solid extends a very human hand from offscreen after the Leif Eriksson level to offer her some grapes he brought back with them.)
  • Rule of Three:
    • You have to find three pieces of a note Carmen wrote to find out where her minion is.
    • There are three steps needed to finish mummifying Thutmose III.
    • Before Lefi Erickson can hold a Thing, a democratic vote between all members of his crew, you need to gather his three shipmates.
    • You need to gather three batches of supplies for William the Conqueror to defend his castle.
    • To progress in the Incan era, you need to count the inventory of three different items.
  • Shown Their Work: Sure, they took some liberties here and there, but they did actually do a lot of research. The manual explains what liberties had to be taken.
  • Sore Loser: None of the VILE henchmen are happy about being caught. Jacqueline Hyde is the only one who lampshades that you're just doing your job before she switches to her Hyde mode.
  • Supernormal Bindings: The Time Cuffs, which must be activated first, are otherwise normal handcuffs that have the ability to detect time-travelers.
  • Take Your Time: Quite literally. No matter how much of a "hurry" a character is in, the player does not have to rush anything.
  • Time Police: Who are apparently sanctioned by the US government.
  • Time Travel: You don't say!
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: You can somehow cross the Sahara Desert, vast swaths of China, the Atlantic Ocean and the U.S. colonies in what's implied to be mere hours rather than weeks or months.
  • Totally Radical: Ivan Idea talks this way. Notably, he did not really talk this way in his prior Where in the World and Where in the U.S.A. appearances - he was at least more subtle.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Every level opens with the good guide stepping out of thin air, usually into a scene with at least one historical figure present. None of the historical figures in question find this to be something unusual. Out of all of them, only Kublai Khan in the Marco Polo mission has a (somewhat easy-to-miss) visible reaction of surprise to Rock Solid suddenly appearing out of nowhere, and even then he just quickly goes to back to wondering where Marco Polo is.
  • Vikings In America: The third case is set during Leif Erikson's expedition to Vinland, where the player must help recover their ship to help Leif and his crew return home.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: You start many a mission by just starting up a conversation with a major ruling figure like it's no big deal.
  • When He Smiles: After receiving applause for his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, Beethoven, usually the grumpy type, wears a big happy grin.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The male ACME agents have no problem beating the crap out of or otherwise manhandling the female VILE agents.

Alternative Title(s): Carmen Sandiegos Great Chase Through Time


Leif the Luckless

Carmen's thief is messing with the Vikings' arrival in the New World.

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