Saturday, June 14, 2008

Xbox Live Arcade Desires: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Live!

The Xbox Live Arcade service has proven to be a great platform for revitalizing older PC and console titles and delivering them to a newer audience - however there are some games missing that may prove to be excellent additions to the service. Consider this....

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Live!
Stop singing the Rockapella jingle in your head. We're not talking about that.

Many children who went to school during the 80s and 90s will recall several games fondly - Oregon Trail, The Munchers series, and Carmen Sandiego in its various flavors. A crook has committed a spectacular heist and it's your job to track them down. Fond memories include the blocky graphics chosen to represent the various cities around the world, the henchmen as they snuck across the screen when you chose the correct city to go to, and the occasional flying knife or other object intended to harm you, the gumshoe. Collect all the clues and you could get a warrant from your successful sluething. Find the crook before you get your warrant and they go free. The howls of frustration still ring in many ears.

As with the Xbox Live Arcade Desires series of titles so far, the same case can be made for this game's revival. Carmen suits the family demographic Microsoft is desperate to steal from Nintendo, by cleverly educating players while injecting a good dose of fun to cover up the "not-so-awesome" parts. Again, the title is flexible in the sense mom and dad can take part in the fun while the child can still be the star. And nostalgia is just plain cool.

Improvements here could be simply amazing, depending how much effort is put into rebuilding this title for the Xbox 360. As agents travel they could see other henchmen and have to help act as an informant to other A.C.M.E. agents working on other cases ("I saw him with a red coat.") by choosing from a few possible responses. As cities are traveled to, news feeds from the area could scroll on the screen courtesy of RSS. And of course cities could be changed and updated with new pictures and relevant information over time. A mega-case could be put out in which agents must work together to help find the ever elusive Carmen herself. The possibilities here are amazing.

So Where is it?
Carmen Sandiego has perhaps the toughest time of all Xbox Live Arcade Desires games so far - revival attempts on the GameCube resulted in a spectacular flop. While Carmen Sandiego and the Secret of the Stolen Drums was considered a decent update by many critics, marketing was poor and as a result the desired sales did not materialize. When you're expecting sales off a beloved title that flops it puts more than a single nail in the coffin for future revivals. With the economy struggling, securing funds for a doubtful sequel just may not happen.

If someone out there with power is reading this, consider a revival of Carmen Sandiego. There is definitely a market out there, but keep the expectations real.


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