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Dossiers > Articles and Reviews in English > Games > [ENG] Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego?

[ENG] Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego?

Carmen SanDiego
IntroI had decided I would relax for once this week. My tickets for the Bahamas were already booked and my luggage was all packed and ready to go on tomorrow morning's flight. A few days rest would have done well to my tired body. But life is life, my boss called me tonight asking if I was fit for a new mission. After thoughts and seeing the challenge I got decided ... to postpone my holidays.

Carmen SanDiego Loading Screen  

MissionThe news was terrible. An invaluable treasure was stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Believe it or not, the plans of the pyramids had disappeared! I turned immediately on SkyRadio on 96.8Mhz to hear the confirmation of this robbery and according to the reporters, a few well-known suspects were already tracked down. Local security patrols failed miserably in safeguarding this national treasure and left the thieve escape without anyone noticing.
A few moments later, Egyptian telly aired fuzzy pictures from CCTV that clearly showed the suspect running out of the building with the maps. As the journalists said and by looking more closely at the video, I could clearly define a female acting alone.
Was I going to deal with Katherine Brunch, Merey LaRoc or maybe Ihor Ihorovich. All were good candidates! I wanted to know more and decided to take the next flight to Cairo to find out more.

In a rush I managed to catch the 23h40 flight. Fortunately I didn't forget my company AMEX card. Imagine paying that fortune for just a 4 hours trip? I could have easily spent this amount for a journey around the world in 80 days. During the flight, in between two sleeps, I educated myself on the mission's details. I really appreciate my boss and I am used to it. A 12-page confidential file was already prepared and given to me when I arrived at the British Airways lounge at Heathrow.

From the window, I could preview the immensity of the city and I could even see in the distance Gizah. Cairo is a city of 25 million, the biggest of Africa and the Middle-East. It was not going to be an easy task to find that thief!

I decided to start my day with a typical Egyptian breakfast to think about how I would organise my day. The server brought me a baladi bread, taameya's, foul and delicious hallawa. The full city seemed still under shock about what happened the day before. I asked the server: "What do you think of all this?". He answered: "Sir, it's dramatic! If we don't find back the plans of the pyramids, we'll never know how they have been built!". That was evidence.

I went to the bank to check my account and while at my private bankers desk he informed me, totally amazed, that he just made the transaction of his life by changing almost a million Egyptian pounds into something like 250 millions Liras... to a hurried lady with a strong Meditteranean accent that left in emergency in a limousine for Mena House's Oberon Golf Club in Gizah, at the foot of the pyramids! I thanked him very much. This was a lucky start. I rushed out.

Less than an hour later I arrived in front of the club-house where indeed a limousine was already parked. "Where is your customer?" I asked. "She joined the golf club director. I understood she wanted to climb Mount Titano with him... in San Marino".  I was surprised, this was just hard to believe. A few seconds later I heard a helicopter leaving a bit further away. Too late, she escaped in front of me! Why San Marino? Why all this money? Two calls later, I was on my way to my private jet to fly into Rimini, the closest airport to the small republic that is well-known for its fiscal paradise. Only I needed a better pair of shoes to climb to the top of the 739m height mountain. 



My chauffeur drove like crazy, used his horn abusively but was kind enough to stop next to a shoe store I had noticed on the side of the road and since I have Egyptian feet (to the contrary of Greek) I had no troubles to find a beautiful pair. I boarded my jet, a Beechcraft King Air 90, with the hope to arrive first in San Marino. This was a fine and wonderful trip to rest and relax a bit. My boss is really a nice guy, I already told you... he had foreseen a charming hostess to accompany me to Italy.

Flying at night is not a problem for me. However, get back to work in the early hours has never been my strong side. Quickly after having landed in the small republic I immediately took the occasion to complete the collection of Euro coins for my little nephew. He was going to be a happy man, I tell you! Apart from this little break, I was there for a much more serious matter... arrest the suspect.  My first idea was to go straight to that famous mountain and see from there. It was a beautiful day. I arrived in a very remote village at the foot of the mountain where I could not see anybody around. Only I could see a car with a Slovenian number plate parked next to a small creek. The door was left open. I looked inside and besides a dozen tennis magazines in the back seats there was nothing much else to see. I saw a small path going up into the forest and walked it up straight away, at a very fast pace. I followed the yellow marks and quarter of an hour later I walked into a big field of flowers. A shepherd was sitting on a rock a little bit further away. I greeted him and asked:  'Buongiorno, avete visto cualcuno passare questa mattina?'. Not surprised, he answered: 'Si signore, una bionda, una bionda! Certamente inglese. Mi ha detto che sarà a Londra sta sera per studiare il suono del Big Ben! Gli ho risposto che non era la buona direzione. Ah Ah!'. I could have thought it before, my suspect was certainly Annie Dazzle! A renowned blond English lady that was famous for the most horrendous crimes around the world and that had special interests in luxury and tennis. It was not for nothing that she travelled in limousines. I turned on my Spectravideo SVI laptop MSX to confirm my suspicion. A click on 'Compute' and I knew I had it right. My boss opened an international arrest warrant against her. Not wanting to loose any precious time, I went back to my jet and left for London City Airport. My visit to San Marino was very short but productive.



If I had a parachute, I would have asked the pilot to drop me above river Thames, but I am not James Bond, you know. Don't misunderstand me, my cup-of-tea is more like the dolce vittà and far niente, but when business catches me up I am really capable of everything. Not even Bond would say the contrary. I called him and he picked up the phone: 

-  Bond, James Bond.
-  Hi James, this is SuperCobra. You've probably heard I managed to have an international arrest warrant this morning against Annie Dazzle. I was wondering if you were also on the 'affaire'?
- You know, you are cleverer than you look...

Better than looking cleverer than you are! So, do you have any news to share?
- Prepare you trip to Peru. We have spotted Annie in a Change close to Leicester Square where she asked for Soles. We followed her in a Latin American grocery where she bought some rum. The owner told us she wanted to study Spanish colonialism. The stupid then managed to escape. The crowd was so dense that we lost track her in the tube at Covent Garden. I don't know what she prepares but I believe you have to act fast. 
- Thanks so much Bond, with a bit of luck I'll capture her in Lima!
- Watch out Cobra, she's dangerous. Please pass by at Q's, he has new gadgets for you and a new watch, your twentieth I believe.
- Time goes really fast, you're as always a gentleman.
- My pleasure Cobra, bring us safely the maps of the pyramids back!




My boss is really lovely, he knows the full world and has always good ideas. I'm a small detective but I have my connections. It's not nothing to know James Bond. That guy has 60 years of experience in the Secret Intelligent Services and he is still unbeatable. What a man! He gets all my honours.  

So I took a black cab for Brompton Road. Work is one thing, I entirely agree. Leisure is another thing, and I enjoy that and I'll never make concessions about it. I also like Harrods and nobody ever has stopped me from going there for some shopping. "Omnia Ubique Omnibus", doesn't that ring a bell to you? My purchases done and I was on my way for yet another monstrously long flight and I could only dream of being tele-transported to Lima. I felt really tired and felt asleep while drinking a delicious mocha  in a Prêt-à-Manger outlet...  how I then managed to get into Heathrow was a mystery and don't ask me how I managed to get on the plane!



I didn't know much about Peru, not even the national airlines name. I was there to arrest Annie Dazzle, nothing more, nothing less. Just I had to be careful not to let her go her way and escape once more. This time I chose to stay determined and to set aside my little touristic breaks, though I secretly hoped I could visit the country as one should do. One of my dreams has always been to go to lake Titicaca, the largest and highest lake of Latin America located in the middle of the Andes at over 3800m altitude! This is must truly be an amazing place to visit, also knowing that you can navigate on it. Nevertheless I had to put this dream aside. Upon my arrival I could hardly resist watching the people around me walking in their traditional clothes. The shops were marvelous to watch with plenty bright colours. Quickly work took it over. Peruvians are very kind people and through their hospitality I quickly learned that Annie was again playing cat and mice with me. Before I even finished drinking my infusion, I knew she was already flying into Istanbul. She was probably one of the biggest liars I had ever dealt with. None of what she said or claimed was sincere. Studying the Big Ben, bullshit. Learning about Spanish Colonialism, let me laugh. One thing she didn't know is that I would not leave her alone. Though she was an enduring person, I had no intention to let her win. I hurried up to get in time in the Turkish city to finally arrest her...

24 hours later, I landed in Atatürk airport. I had a good rest and was full of energy, especially after having seen 'The Fugitive' during the flight, an astonishing movie where the killer always manages to escape police, a bit in the same manner as Annie Dazzle. I was really in a fantastic mood, though I knew this was maybe not my final destination. First I went to Kapalı Çarşı, one of the largest covered bazaars in the world. A real labyrinth with over 66 small roads, 2500 stores and many many craftwork shops. It was the perfect place to hide but also a real Ali Baba cavern where you can find everything you want. To help me, my boss had foreseen an interpret and a few local secret agents to accompany me. Thanks god because my Turkish is not yet that good. All the hints that we collected pointed us to think that she would go to Colombo in Sri Lanka because she wanted to catch a Sea Snake and learn more about Veddag artifacts. She even tried to find a Tamil dictionary in a library!



I received a SMS while I was on my way to the airport: "Annie Dazzle registered on a flight to Kigali. She's trying to scramble the tracks. Don't go to Colombo".  Discreetly I boarded the same plane as her. Rwandese police where informed and ready to put the shackles when she would land. My mission ended in the middle of the jungle, not really I place I would have chosen for my vacations. But since I had an almost unused pairs of walking shoes, I decided to spend a few days in the jungle to meet gorillas. An unforgettable experience. As I felt asleep under the stars I thought it would probably be a good idea to go home...  my boss was certainly already trying to reach me for a new adventure. And my holidays? Do you think he ever thinks of them?
And Annie Dazzle in all this? She was of course captured and the pyramid maps where found in her luggage. She was emprisoned and extradited to Egypt where she was forced to general labour works in light to safeguard the Egyptian cultural inheritance. Three years later, she managed to escape again...

The End.




A word on the game:
I had the idea to review this game since a very long time but didn't know how I would write it. I hope you enjoyed reading it despite my lack of experience in this kind of writing. Besides this fiction and totally unrealistic scenario as well as total-crazy travel around the world within hours leaving little time to do a serious detective's job, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego is a classic game. It's adaptation to MSX by SLotman is well done though the game is a bit slow. Missions are quite simple if you have minimal cultural and geographical knowledge and I hope they become more difficult as you advance in the game. Also, I was totally surprised to arrest Annie Dazzle in Kigali when all witnesses in Istanbul pointed I had to fly into Colombo... a pity because this should not have been the case. If you have a closer look at the screenshots above, you'll also notice on one of them a blue screen with 'Your Computer made an Illegal Operation... Press any key to continue' that occurred when I tried to compute for the arrest warrant. Surprising. Bug or intentional?

Conclusion:
It took 4 years time from the moment the game was announced first and when it finally came out in April 2007. For just 5$ (approx. 3 Euros), you have the opportunity to acquire a new homebrew game for a very small price. It's not free but don't forget that by buying it you'll also reward the work of passionate people about MSX. I wish you a lot of amusement and a lot of success in your future detective career.

Official site: Carmen SanDiego MSX


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