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Article:    Our Favorite Educational Software Game 

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It was first released in 1996, and the original CD-ROM spawned sequels, yet this game remains our favorite educational software game in 2004. Zoombinis Logical Journey is an outstanding program. Why? It has withstood the test of time, appeals to girls and boys equally, has sizable content, is fun to play, and is a fabulous workout for the mind. 

Little blue creatures, called the Zoombinis, are odd yet entirely endearing. They are peace-loving characters who need some help, and players instinctively want to do just that! They have unfortunately been turned into slaves, and leading them to freedom is the premise of the software.

The goal of the game is to get Zoombinis from Zoombini Isle to Zoombiniville. Obstacles, in the form of challenging logic puzzles, are met along the way. Players need to choose 16 Zoombinis each time they return to Zoombini Isle. They toggle through different combinations of the four variables that not only make Zoombinis different, but become variables in many of the puzzles. This is because the Zoombini's attributes form the basis of the logic puzzles themselves (in most cases).

The four variables are: eyes, hair, feet, and noses. For example, a Zoombini might have a blue nose, one eye, pointy hair, and wheels as "feet". Another Zoombini might have a purple nose, sunglasses, hair in a ponytail, and skates.

The first challenge the Zoombinis face along the road to Zoombini Isle is Allergic Cliffs. The cliffs are allergic to certain attributes of the Zoombinis, but it's up to players to determine exactly which cliff is allergic to which trait. Using trial and error, and powers of deduction, players may be able to get all or many of the Zoombinis across. One of the best-loved activities involves the Pizza Troll (see screenshot immediately below), who is finicky about the toppings he would like to see on his pizza, but who is not telling exactly what it is he wants. Educated trial and error is necessary in order to feed the Pizza Troll what he wants, which will grant the Zoombinis passage through to the next puzzle.

As children progress, the puzzles remain the same but increase in challenge.

The only problem with the game is that it is difficult to "beat". The highest difficulty level seems impossible. This doesn't deter children from playing, however.

Two sequels have been released in the last few years. The second title in the series, Zoombinis Mountain Rescue, is the stronger of the two. As solid as the sequels are, however, neither has the devotional appeal of the first.

We have owned the Zoombinis since its original release, and it remains a favorite with my children. Their friends often ask to play the game when they are at our home for play dates. Interestingly enough, it has captured the interest of my kids sporadically as they grew. One of my daughters enjoyed the game as young as 4 years old (on the basic level) and now that she is 10, she still returns to the game.

The beauty of Zoombinis Logical Journey is reflected in its harnessing of play (involving experimentation and inventiveness) as the means through which children develop logical thinking skills.

To buy:

Zoombinis Logical Journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 2004/Updated October 2005
 

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