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Carmen Sandiego Meets Maxwell Smart

A Review of The Wild World of Madison Jaxx

by Rich Cunningham

James Bond. Jack Ryan. Mata Hari. Carmen Sandiego. Maxwell Smart. MAXWELL SMART !!!! These are all famous espionage figures of fact and fantasy. In their own way, they have contributed our culture of spies, counter spies, and even education. James Bond made having a martini "shaken, not stirred" a popular phrase. Jack Ryan became president of the United States. Mata Hari, well, was Mata Hari. Carmen Sandiego became an educational icon for children learning geography. As for Maxwell Smart, he just goes to show that not every one isn't perfect.

Playing the program we are looking at today, "The Wild World of Madison Jaxx", reminded me of Maxwell. For those of you who remember the television show "Get Smart", it always opened with Max going through several vault doors to get into headquarters. This program starts the same way, but has to pass several id checks, such as palm print and eyeball examinations. Madison then goes to a meeting of his personnel and asks for their help in combating a new and mysterious crime wave. And here the fun begins.

The concept of the game is to help users learn about geography and current events. The intended age range is 8 years to adult. It involves 9 characters of varying backgrounds and occupations, such as a doctor, TV journalist, diplomat, filmmaker and archeologist. The player assumes the role of one of these characters, and then is assigned a mission. The missions are designed to fit the specialties of that character. For example, I played the doctor, and was assigned a mission to find out about a disease in Hungary. What makes this game so enjoyable is there are over 90 different missions to work on, over one hour of narrative video, 530 sites, 450 photos and 200 country and regional maps. There is also an interactive geographical encyclopedia to use. The goal of the game is to solve the case that has been assigned. This accomplished by visiting the different countries, and answering questions about that country. The information to answer them is included in the audio narration and the interactive database (accessed through the player's laptop computer). But answering questions is not all that is required. The players must be quick enough to neutralize the dangerous crooks and spies they encounter, or they could be gone themselves. There is also a crime lab to help store their clues.

This program is a very good one. It emphasizes education, and it does it in an exciting way. The graphics are excellent, but a bit blocky looking. The ability to change the screen size would have been helpful. The geography information that is offered is current, and has enough depth to be entertaining without being boring. I now know more about the country of Hungary than I ever want to know after trying my hand at a case. The graphics reflect the same Corel quality that has made them a leader in desktop publishing and graphics applications. There is not a lot of violence in the game, enough suspense to keep a player on their toes and the edge of their seats. "The Wild World of Madison Jaxx" would be an excellent choice for a young person who is starting to out grow the Carmen Sandigeo series. It has the same focus, geography and history, but with a more mature attitude that befits young teens and teenagers. It is easy to install, and ran without any problems on my system. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to solve a case, so it is easy to finish in one setting. This is a highly recommended program for any home library with students using the computer. My children, especially my 12-year-old daughter, really enjoy this program. I am sure yours will also.

School House Scorecard


The Wild World of Madison Jaxx


1600 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Z 8R7
Phone: 800-455-3169



System Requirements:

Minimum Requirements: Windows 3.1, 486DX2/66 Mhz,
8 MB RAM, 23 MB hard drive, 640x480x256 color display,
16-Bit audio capabilities, Speakers, Double Speed CD-ROM.

Reviewer Used:
Windows 95, Pentium 166, 64 MB RAM,
Matrox Mystique PCI video, Soundblaster AWE64,
Panasonic SQ-TC510N CD-ROM.


Ease of Use 3
Learning Value 4
Entertainment Value 4
Graphics 4
Sound 4

Overall Score:

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