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Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego returns to its gaming roots in an interactive special

Think Black Mirror: Bandersnatch but for kids

Netflix isn’t hiding its ambitions to push further into the world of interactive storytelling, and a trailer for its Carmen Sandiego Choose Your Own Adventure-style special teases what’s to come.

In Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal, the iconic spy is tasked with doing the Villains International League of Evil’s (V.I.L.E.) bidding after they capture professional thief Zack and his sister Ivy during a heist. If Carmen Sandiego doesn’t succeed, Zack and Ivy will have their minds wiped and become operatives within V.I.L.E.

The trailer, seen above, shows how viewers will take control of Sandiego during her mission and the types of decisions they’ll have to make to move the story forward. Players will decide whether Sandiego should enter V.I.L.E.’s headquarters from the ground floor or the roof, for example. Considering Carmen Sandiego started as an educational video game character, giving fans of the Netflix show the ability to play out an entire episode like a game is a nostalgic return to her roots.

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal is one of three children’s interactive specials Netflix is reportedly planning to make, according to a Bloomberg story from August 2019. The other two series set to receive interactive specials include Boss Baby and Last Kids on Earth. Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, has long talked about how important interactive entertainment is to the company, but he has also noted they want to do projects that make sense. Carmen Sandiego, which appeals to younger kids and is based on a video game, is a perfect combination.

“Gaming is becoming more movified, and movies are becoming more gameified, but it won’t take over,” Sarandos told the Evening Standard last year. “People still want to be told a story.”

Netflix’s biggest interactive special, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, was a rousing success for the company — according to the company. The special won two Emmys and nabbed show co-creator Charlie Brooker a Nebula Award for his writing for the episode. Netflix also told Variety last May that 90 percent of viewers chose to play the special rather than watch it as a form of passive, linear entertainment, which was a big deal for the company. The level of participation led Netflix to “launch a whole new slate of adult interactive content,” according to Variety.

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal should be an even easier sell considering the target audience. The special will be available to watch and play on March 10th. It will run for 45 minutes.