Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Great Gateway Grab

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Great Gateway Grab Game Poster Image
Short, fun game has kids practicing fractions and symmetry.

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The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about math and explore the world in this entertaining adventure game, which features number problems suitable for middle-school students. Players get to practice their skills recognizing numerical patterns, calculating weight, and carrying out basic mathematical operations ranging from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division. In addition to playing mini-games that use middle school math, kids also visit locations ranging from the United States to India and absorb a bit about local cultures and landmarks. Like all Carmen Sandiego products, this game delivers on being educational -- and fun. 

Positive Messages

This game makes math fun by challenging kids with problems that fit within the context of the adventure. It shows kids how math can be useful in real life situations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kids listen to and read dialogue from several helpful game characters, including ACME agents, subject matter experts, and civilians. The player's character, a male or female detective, focuses on chasing after his or her suspect and ensuring justice is served. Many different ethnicities are represented in the game.

Ease of Play

All of the puzzles are suitable for the game's intended audience of middle-elementary school kids. Instructions are clear, and hints offer guidance rather than just giving answers away. The investigation, meanwhile, is linear and without any significant obstacles that could lead to kids getting stuck.

Violence
Language
Consumerism

This game is a part of an educational media franchise that includes books, games, television series, and films.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Carmen Sandiego Adventures in Math: The Great Gateway Grab is a short but fun educational game that will help kids practice math skills they're likely studying in school. Players will learn the basics about different kinds of angles, work on a couple of shape symmetry puzzles, and organize mixed decimals and fractions. They'll also learn a few essential facts about the landmarks and cultures of India, Brazil, and Greece, and eventually use logic to determine the identity of the game's villain. There is no offensive or contentious content.

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What's it about?

Carmen Sandiego's crew of V.I.L.E. villains are at it again in CARMEN SANDIEGO ADVENTURES IN MATH: THE GREAT GATEWAY GRAB. One of her henchmen (or henchwomen) has masterminded the theft of the Gateway of India, a 100-year-old monument in Mumbai, and it's up to the player to find out who. Kids start by selecting a one of the game's stock detectives (there are a few men and women of different ethnicities from which to choose), then head to India to begin questioning people and looking for clues. They'll encounter and solve ten contextual math problems -- connecting wires, bypassing fingerprint readers, weighing pineapples -- as they collect information that will eventually allow them to identify the culprit. Expect the whole adventure to last about an hour. A practice mode lets kids go back and retry the math problems again and again, with different numeric values inserted each time.

Is it any good?

The Great Gateway Grab is a fine learning game for kids. Its math problems are well balanced, suitable for its target age group (middle-elementary school kids), and make sense within the context of the investigation. Plus, its story has some interesting twists and turns, not least of which is a dilemma concerning the containment of a solvent that can dissolve any container. (We'd still like to know whether the novel solution used in the game has any basis in reality!)

You get what you pay for -- the production values are decidedly low, and it's no longer than an after-school special -- but the educational value is good and the mystery is compelling. The math problems are fun, and kids can replay them over and over again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how we use math in everyday situations. Try getting kids to do simple calculations for you when it comes to calculating tax or a tip at a restaurant. Ask them whether they prefer using fractions or decimals, and why.

  • Families can also discuss foreign cultures. Do you want to visit any of the countries in this game? Which country would you most like to see? What is it about different places that interests you? The food? The people and customs? The climate? The sports?

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