Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (1985)

Info

Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
Educational, Adventure Vintage

(Pre-1990)

Broderbund Broderbund Detective, Chase criminal, International travel

WIWICS is an educational game for children. Gameplay is simple. You assume the role of a detective and follow clues to determine which city criminals has fled to. Keep doing this for a few rounds before finally catching up with him or her. By that time you must have narrowed down your suspect list to one and have obtained an arrest warrant from Interpol. Now spot the criminal and affect an arrest. If you do not manage to track the thief down within a limited number of days, you lose the case. Same happens if you fail to narrow down your suspect list and obtain arrest warrant for the right suspect whom you are chasing. The primary challenge is to recognize which country/city the criminal has fled to from the clues you get. You should get it if you want your children to expand their general knowledge.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0: Simple
Complexity 0: Simplistic
Story 0.5: Chain of missions like a campaign
Lore 1: Real world geography and culture
Immersion 0.5: Although very primitive, it does give you a sense of immersion
Difficulty 0: Easy
Learning Curve 0: Easy
Total Score 2/7: Lightweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 2: Moderately met
Creative 0: Not met
Mastery 1: Slightly met
Destructive 0: Not met
Entertainment 0: Not met
Pace 0: Not met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 3/21: Bad Game (It is educational afterall!)

Game Review

TL;DR It is a nice little time-pass for adults. For children it is a really good game to learn about geography and different cultures of the world, and also about processing information. It is a good educational game for children, however being from 1985 it is doubtful if chidren will be able to derive any fun out of this.

Pros

  • Expands general knowledge

Cons

  • Repetitive and grindy

Game completed.

Purpose – Relaxation

Gameplay – A bit repetitive but okay.

Graphics – Ancient vector graphics.

Performance – Peanut.

Entertainment – Nada.

Plot (if applicable) – Finish case after case to get promoted to Ace Detective and then finally catch Carmen Sandiego.

Replay value – None.

Immersion – Kind of immersive, especially for a child. You can imagine yourself a detective.

Overall it is a good educational game.

Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (1982)

Info

Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
cRPG, Open-world, Dungeon-crawling Vintage (Pre-1990) Richard Garriott a.k.a Lord British Sierra Online (originally),

Origin Systems (subsequently),

EA (presently)

Medieval, Fantasy, Magic, Sci-fi, Space

Ultima II is the sequel of the much celebrated cult classic Ultima. In the early 80s, games of the Ultima series were revolutionary and this one was no exception. It had built up on the success of its predecessor by introducing further complicated features into the gameplay; perhaps too complicated as Ultima II is unanimously considered the most difficult title of the whole series. The world of Ultima II is harsh and unforgiving! The setting is Earth in various different time periods. You play the role of the hero summoned by Lord British to vanquish Minax, evil consort and protege of Mondain who was the main antagonist in Ultima. Minax has come of age and has become more powerful than ever Mondain was, and is bent on destroying Earth, the planet which was the birth place of the hero who killed Mondain, so that the eventuality of Mondain’s death is prevented from transpiring. To this end she has opened several gateways through time-space and has spread her villainy inside men from various era of the Earth in order to ensure a nuclear holocaust in 2111 AD. You must kill Minax who is residing presently in the origin of time – age of legends, in order to stop this from happening. Thus in the course of your journey you will go back and forth in time through various time doors, looking for clues on how to kill Minax. Throughout the over-world you will kill monsters. There is dungeon-crawling and space travel to other planets. Raising your stats is not an easy task, gold is precious, and you are in constant need of food in order to survive. If you want a hard challenge and wish to absorb the history of Ultima first-hand, you have to play this game.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0.5: Moderately complex
Complexity 1: Complex (iventory)
Story 1: There is a story
Lore 1: Rich (World of Ultima)
Immersion 0.5: Although role-play but premature
Difficulty 1.0: High difficulty
Learning Curve 1.0: Steep without help or guidance
Total Score 5.5/7: Heavyweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 3: Well met
Creative 0: Not met
Mastery 2: Moderately met
Destructive 0: Not met
Entertainment 1: Slightly met
Pace 0: Not met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 6/21: Moderate Game

Game Review

TL;DR Not the best of Ultima games. People say its the worst, but I have not yet played all of them, so can’t say that. But this game is quite bad. Without cheating and guides, it is just plain self-abuse. So buy only if necessary to experience whole of Ultima series for historic reasons.

Pros

  • Set in the world of Ultima so has its unique charm

Cons

  • Pathetic gameplay features
    • No automap for dungeons
    • Stats increase is random and unpredictable
    • Experience points and leveling only influences frequency of monsters
    • Character balancing is terrible
  • Grinding, grinding, grinding
  • Bad save system
  • Nothing is intuitive

Game completed with save-game editor cheat.

Purpose – Study

Gameplay – It is a NIGHTMARE. What was Garriott thinking?? Mindless grinding. Half of the features in the game are optional show pieces. Raising your stats is out of your control, unpredictable, random, and extremely costly. There is no modicum of balance. The clues to the story are buried under tons and tons of shit. You have to talk with 200 NPCs to get one bit of clue, that also in incomprehensible riddle form. It is practically impossible to play this game without a guide or cheats. I have no idea how they used to manage playing this back in the day.

Graphics – CGA pixel graphics. Has not aged well.

Performance – Peanut.

Entertainment – There is of course a story,  connected to the rich lore of Ultima series. Also it has some humor of the suggestive type and some weird charm of its own… and also the hype surrounding it.. the cult status. Yet, it is not as good as its predecessor. .

Plot (if applicable) – Clear plot, lore, world of its own.

Replay value – None. Unless you want to try out different levels of difficulty by creating different type of characters.

Immersion – Not quite as immersive as its predecessor.

Overall a bit of pain really, that is best avoided. Can only be tolerated for the sake of experiencing history and evolution of Ultima

Borderlands (2009)

Info

Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
FPS, RPG, Open-world Modern (2001 -2010) Gearbox Software 2K Sci-fi. Futuristic, Wasteland, Aliens

Borderlands is an experiment in blending RPG with FPS in an open-world setting which worked out really well. Its a charming shooter with every element of shooters in it, but also ensures a balanced level of sanity through its open-world and RPG features. In this game you play the role of a (or a group of in co-op mode) mercenary(s) with the mission of finding the legendary “vault” – a repository of advanced alien technology in the planet of Pandora. Pandora however have been mined and exploited by large interplanetary corporations through means of cheap convict labor. The corporations have left the planet releasing the convicts on their departure, which has resulted in bandit run madness and chaos. The convict turned bandits and Pandora’s dangerous wildlife make survival difficult in this planet.You have to get rid of such bandits and monsters in your quest for the vault. Eventually you will also have to face the military forces of one of the corporations who want the vault contents for themselves. Along your journey you earn skill points, learn new skills, upgrade your weapons (there are lots and lots of them) and gear and become more and more fearsome.  The setting is the planet Pandora which resembles vast post apocalyptic wastelands with some mountainous terrains, caves, and canyons as well. There are story missions and side missions which can be received from various characters or bounty boards strewn across the various in-game locations. There is a vehicle for transport and a fast travel system although most mission specific locations are inaccessible to vehicles and have to be traversed on foot. Gears, weapons and first aid can be bought and sold in vending machines across the lands. If you like both FPSs and RPGs, then this is a must-play game for you.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0.5: Moderately complex
Complexity 1: Complex (inventory, trading items)
Story 1: There is a story
Lore 0.5: Borderlands series
Immersion 0.5: Character identity but not role-play level
Difficulty 0.5: Some tight corners along the way
Learning Curve 0: Easy
Total Score 4/7: Mediumweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 0: Not met
Creative 0: Not met
Mastery 3: Well met
Destructive 3: Well met
Entertainment 2: Moderately met
Pace 3: Well met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 11/21: Good Game

Game Review

TL;DR A superb open-world game, blend of FPS and RPG. Lots of shooting, fighting, hunting, and explosions. Rewarding gameplay.

Pros

  • Lots of weapons
  • RPG aspects
  • Rewards tactics
  • Good progression system
  • Nice unique art style

Cons

  • Checkpoint based saving that only saves your state and not your location
  • Some sections are repetitive
  • The “story” is not much of a story

Game completed. (DLCs in progress)

Game-time 48 hrs for primary campaign excluding DLCs.

Purpose – Excitement

Gameplay – Gameplay is generally good and rewarding. Death is not permanent – neither for you, nor for most of your enemies, i.e. enemies usually re-spawn except specific villain characters tied to the story’s progression. XP can be thus farmed but it is not really necessary as there are enough side-missions for leveling up purposes. The only tricky part in the gameplay is the checkpoint based save system. It only saves your current state and does not save your current location. If you die (in the same session) you are relocated to your nearest checkpoint; however if you quit your session then you are relocated from your nearest spawn point (spawn points are sparser than checkpoints) and also all enemies re-spawn. Apart from the save system, gameplay is good and enjoyable in every other aspect.

Graphics – Good with its own unique art style.

Performance – Good.

Entertainment – Blowing up heads with shotgun or sniper rifles is all the entertainment. Also burning enemies or striking them down with electric shocks.

Plot (if applicable) – The plot is cliched and shallow.

Replay value – There is good replay value, as you have four different characters to play with and also there is a second playthrough mode.

Immersion – Not much to speak of in this department. It is definitely not one of the most immersive games out there.

Overall it is a solid, meaty, and enjoyable experience.