Zoombinis

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Zoombinis
Genres Educational, puzzle
Developers Brøderbund Software (1996)
The Learning Company (2001-2)
TERC, FableVision, and Learning Games Network (2015+)
Publishers Brøderbund Software (1996)
The Learning Company (2001-2)
TERC (2015+)
Platforms Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, OS X, iOS, Android
First release Logical Journey of the Zoombinis
March 1996
Latest release Zoombinis
August 2015

Zoombinis is a series of educational puzzle computer games that were originally developed by TERC and published by Brøderbund Software until The Learning Company bought Brøderbund in 1998 and took over developing and publishing the series in 2001. The series consists of 3 games: "Logical Journey of the Zoombinis" (1996), "Zoombinis: Mountain Rescue" (2001), and "Zoombinis: Island Odyssey" (2002). On August 6, 2015, "Logical Journey" was updated and re-released (as "Zoombinis") for tablets and modern operating systems by TERC, FableVision, and Learning Games Network.[1][2] The series focuses on the titular Zoombinis, small blue creatures each with different appearances and personalities, which the player must guide through strange puzzle-filled lands.

Logical Journey of the Zoombinis (1996)[edit]

Creating Zoombinis at Zoombini Isle

Zoombini Isle, the Zoombinis' homeland, has been taken over by the evil Bloats. The Zoombinis flee but end up in a mysterious and treacherous land. Players must guide the Zoombinis through this land to reach the safety of Zoombiniville, a land of hope and prosperity for the Zoombinis. The game was made in 1995, and released in 1996.[3]

The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro wrote that the game was less insipid than he expected, and that the pattern and deductive logic puzzles teach "how to think" rather than a specific skill.[4] Karney said the game was fun and praised its audio cues for children with little reading skills. In 1997, the game won "Best Home Education for Pre-Teens" at the 12th Codie awards.[5]

Gameplay[edit]

The player starts at Zoombini Isle, where they assemble a team of 16 Zoombinis, picking from 5 different options each in hair, eyes, nose color, and footwear, for a total of 625 possible combinations. Each combination can be used twice in the game.

Zoombini Isle to Shelter Rock-- "The Big, The Bad, And the Hungry"[edit]

Allergic Cliffs[edit]

There are two bridges hanging over a cliff supported by wooden pegs, which the player must send the Zoombinis across. Two huge faces are embedded in the cliffside under the bridges, each one allergic to certain Zoombini features, which the player must deduce. If the player sends a Zoombini across the bridge whose face is allergic to one of the Zoombini's features, the cliff will sneeze and the Zoombini will be sent tumbling back to the other side, and a peg will spring loose from the bridge. If all six pegs come loose, the bridges will collapse onto the faces and the Zoombinis who did not make it to the other side will be stranded.

Stone-Cold Caves[edit]

The Zoombinis arrive at a stone face divided into four caves, guarded by four guardians. The paths to each cave are arranged so that they are each guarded by two stone guardians, who will only let Zoombinis pass if they have the right features, similar to Allergic Cliffs. If the wrong cave is selected, a guardian will release a rock slide, sending the Zoombini tumbling down the path to the bottom. The player has many chances to find the right cave for each Zoombini before a rock slide tumbles down from above and seals the cave paths, leaving behind those who have not entered a cave.

The guardians are the wise and quiet Onyx, the sweet and snobbish Ferrous, the grouchy and mean Ignorameous, and the cute and beautiful Crystal

Pizza Pass[edit]

The Zoombinis arrive on a dirt road guarded by trolls: Arno, Willa and Shyler. There is a pizza machine to the left which has options for different toppings for a pizza and ice cream. The trolls are hungry, and the player must create a pizza with unique toppings for each of them. If none of the trolls are happy with the toppings on the pizza, it will be thrown into a pit. But if one of the trolls likes all of the toppings present on the pizza, it will be thrown onto the rock behind that troll instead. Once a troll receives a pizza with all of the wanted toppings on it and no unwanted toppings, the troll will move to stand on his or her respective rock and wait for the remaining trolls to be satisfied. If the player is unsuccessful in delivering the correct pizza after 6 tries, a Zoombini will be whacked as a warning. Each incorrect delivery after that causes a Zoombini to be whacked all the way back to Zoombini Isle. Once all trolls are satisfied, they will finish their pizzas and the remaining Zoombinis will be allowed to continue their journey. Arno is grouchy and naive, Willa is beautiful, witty and bossy, and Shyler is very shy, quiet, sweet, and cute.

There are significant changes to the puzzle as the level of difficulty increases:

  • Not So Easy: Only Arno is present. There are 5 pizza toppings.
  • Oh, So Hard: Arno and Willa are present. There are now only four pizza toppings, and ice cream and 2 ice cream toppings are added.
  • Very Hard: Arno, Willa, and Shyler are all present. Ice cream toppings remain the same as the preceding level, but all five pizza toppings are again available.
  • Very, Very Hard: Same as Very Hard, but now with three ice cream toppings.

Shelter Rock[edit]

At the Shelter Rock checkpoint, there are two different paths to take the Zoombinis, a north path through "Who's Bayou", and a south path through the "Deep, Dark Forest". Both paths lead to Shade Tree, the next checkpoint.

North Trail-- "Who's Bayou"[edit]

Capt'n Cajun's Ferryboat[edit]

The Zoombinis must be placed on Capt'n Cajun's boat so that every Zoombini has at least 1 feature in common with the Zoombinis sitting next to them. Capt'n Cajun will throw any incorrectly-placed Zombinis off the boat. On Not So Easy, the seats are arranged in a line, so each Zoombini is next to 1 or 2 others. On Oh So Hard, the seats are in a 2 x 8 grid, so each Zoombini is next to 2 or 3 others. On Very Hard, the grid is 4 x 4, so each Zoombini is adjacent to up to 4 others. Very, Very Hard is still 4 x 4 but with the rows slightly shifted to make a rhombus shape, so each Zoombini is adjacent to up to 6 others.

Titanic Tattooed Toads[edit]

The Zoombinis arrive at a pond with lily pads that have different shapes, colors, and flowers, as well as toads with tattoos of shapes or colors that correspond to the lilypads. The Zoombinis must trust the toads to guide them through the maze of lily pads. Charting paths in advance is key, as picking an incorrect path will cause the toad to be stuck and force the player to leave the Zoombini behind behind. Once all the Zoombinis are through the maze of lily pads, they may continue traversing Who's Bayou.

Stone Rise[edit]

The Zoombinis happen upon a stone hex grid in which if they match up correctly with each other, it'll rise. The Zoombinis can only stand in certain spots or else they will be electrocuted and forced to pick a spot again. The Zoombinis must be matched up with each other according to symbols in the grid. When the player is finished, the hex grid tiles containing properly-placed Zoombinis will rise, allowing them to leave Who's Bayou.

South Trail-- "Deep, Dark Forest"[edit]

Fleens![edit]

The Zoombinis arrive at a clearing in the forest, where they encounter sixteen fleens on rock formation and a tree branch. Each fleen has four distinct features, hair, nose color, eyes, and feet, which correspond to features on each of the sixteen Zoombinis. In the Not So Easy level, each feature directly corresponds to the feature of the Zoombinis, while later levels may use a transitive function or randomize the correlation. The goal of the level is to remove all three fleens from the tree branch, while using as few Zoombinis as possible, since there is only room for 6 Zoombinis to stand out of the way before they fall off of their branch and are chased by their matching fleens back to Shelter Rock. When all three fleens are removed from the branch, a swarm of hornets emerges from their nest and chases the fleens away, allowing the Zoombinis to continue through the forest.

Hotel Dimensia[edit]

As the Zoombinis venture deeper into the Deep, Dark Forest, they happen upon a hotel. The owner is very strict about which Zoombinis can stay in which rooms. An incorrect pick for a room rejects the Zoombini from the room and causes time to pass; when time runs out the hotel closes and no more Zoombinis are allowed in. When all the Zoombinis are sorted into the correct rooms, they may continue through the forest.

Mudball Wall[edit]

This is the last obstacle the Zoombinis happen upon in the Deep, Dark Forest. Mudballs must be fired at the correct sections of the wall (with dots) to allow the Zoombinis onto the ledge above. An incorrect section; nothing happens; however, a correct section and boulders will drop down and launch Zoombinis onto the ledge from the wood platforms depending on how many dots were on the section fired at. How many columns and rows there are on the wall varies by difficulty, as well as what's available as options to fire as a mudball on the wall. There's a limited amount of mud so the machine must be used with caution. Once all the Zoombinis are on the ledge, they may venture out of the forest.

Shade Tree[edit]

Once the player has gotten at least 16 Zoombinis to Shade Tree, the player may continue to Zoombiniville.

Shade Tree to Zoombiniville-- "The Mountains of Despair"[edit]

Lion's Lair[edit]

The Zoombinis arrive in a lair with a lion statue that only lets bypassers pass if they complete its puzzle, which is to sort the Zoombinis on the tiles in a specific order according to the instructions on the wall. Later difficulties remove most of the instructions meaning the rest of the order is only a guess. An incorrect pick for a tile will cause the tile to initiate a trapdoor sequence during which the Zoombini is dropped through the wrong tile and flung through the right tile into the right spot. Each time this happens, the door loses a peg, and if all the pegs are lost, the door will drop shut on the remaining Zoombinis leaving them behind. Once all the Zoombinis have found a spot on the right tiles, the lion statue will lift its paw and allow the Zoombinis to pass.

Mirror Machine[edit]

Stumbling into a mine, the Zoombinis find another obstacle, which requires that the images on the mirrors on both ends match up with each other on the center mirror in order for a Zoombini to pass. Correct matches and the center mirror will lift up and let the Zoombini through on the cart. An incorrect match, however, will result in the mirror falling down and letting the cart by on its own while the Zoombini itself crashes into it and falls into a void below, resulting in it being left behind. Once all the Zoombinis are lined up on carts, they may exit the mine and continue.

Bubblewonder Abyss[edit]

The Zoombinis arrive at an abyss with a bubble machine they must use to cross it by getting into bubbles. Instructions are laid out on a grid so as to give the Zoombinis ease at crossing the abyss. Later difficulties feature more difficult instructions. If a Zoombini is sucked into a whirlpool, it will be left behind. Once all the Zoombinis have crossed the abyss, they may continue on to Zoombiniville.

Zoombiniville[edit]

Zoombiniville is where the Zoombinis form a new society after having to leave Zoombini Isle. The first time the player completes each leg of the journey at each difficulty without losing any Zoombinis, a new monument is added to the town. There are a total of 16 monuments.

Zoombiniville Monuments
Monument Section Difficulty
Band Shell The Big, The Bad, and The Hungry Not So Easy
Swimming Pool The Big, The Bad, and The Hungry Oh So Hard
General Store The Big, The Bad, and The Hungry Very Hard
Library The Big, The Bad, and The Hungry Very Very Hard
Bowling Alley Who's Bayou Not So Easy
Courthouse Who's Bayou Oh So Hard
Playground Who's Bayou Very Hard
Opera House Who's Bayou Very Very Hard
Windmill Deep, Dark Forest Not So Easy
Firehouse Deep, Dark Forest Oh So Hard
Observatory Deep, Dark Forest Very Hard
Monument Deep, Dark Forest Very Very Hard
Schoolhouse Mountains of Despair Not So Easy
Clock Tower Mountains of Despair Oh So Hard
City Hall Mountains of Despair Very Hard
Paper Clip Museum Mountains of Despair Very Very Hard

Zoombinis Mountain Rescue (2001)[edit]

After the foundation of Zoombiniville, the Zoombinis find peace once more, until a small group of them get trapped inside a cave seeking shelter from a storm. They meet up with strange creatures called Boolies who occupy a city known as Booliewood. As a result of the storm, the Boolies have been scattered across the land, and their mayor, the Grand Boolie Boolie, has disappeared. The goal of the game is to rescue a total of 400 Boolies and bring them to Booliewood to return the Grand Boolie Boolie.

Gameplay[edit]

The player begins in Zoombiniville, where they assemble a team of 16 Zoombinis. There are two "Rescue Site" checkpoints between Zoombiniville and Booliewood, where Zoombinis that do not make it through challenges return to.

Zoombiniville to Rescue Site 1[edit]

Turtles[edit]

This is similar to "Lion's Lair" from "Logical Journey". The 16 Zoombinis must be arranged in a specific order across the shells of 16 turtles that form a bridge across a river, based on a guide engraved on a log on the riverbank. On higher difficulties, some of the pattern is worn away, and the player must deduce the correct order through trial and error. Each time a Zoombini is misplaced, a leg is removed from the pier. When all of the legs fall away from the pier, the pier falls into the water and any remaining Zoombinis are sent back to Zoombiniville.

Pipes of Paloo[edit]

This is similar to "Stone Rise" from "Logical Journey". The Zoombinis must be matched together across a network of pipes, with each pipe indicating a feature (hair, eyes, nose, or feet) that the Zoombinis on each end must have in common. The plumbing networks range from simple pairings in "Not so Easy" to a single interconnected network of all 16 Zoombinis in "Very Hard". When all connections are made, or the player gives up and decides to leave Zoombinis behind, the player turns a master valve and all correctly placed Zoombinis are sucked down the pipes.

Aqua Cube[edit]

The Aqua Cube consists of a cube with 8 corners (or 2 interconnected cubes on Very Hard, for a total of 16 corners), each of which contains either Zoombinis or a Fleen. The player operates a control panel with 3 levers to move around the cube in each of the 3 dimensions (with an additional lever on Very Hard to move between the cubes) and catch the Zoombinis while avoiding the Fleen(s). The levers are not labeled, so the player must figure out which is which through trial and error. All Zoombinis caught by the player are saved from the cube and placed on the shore, but if the player catches a Fleen, all the Zoombinis on the shore are chased back to Zoombiniville. In the Oh So Hard and Very Hard levels, there is also a "Warp" button, which allows the player to pull multiple levers and move across multiple sections of the cube in a single turn and reach stranded Zoombinis while avoiding Fleens.

Rescue Site 1[edit]

After exiting the Aqua Cube, the Zoombinis reach the first "Rescue Site" checkpoint, where the player can store their Zoombinis and go to other bases on the map before continuing their rescue mission. The second leg of the journey requires 8 Zoombinis instead of 16, so the player will likely have extra Zoombinis in case the whole team does not make it through. From Rescue Site 1, the player can choose a left (north on map) or right (south) tunnel through the caves.

North Tunnel[edit]

Scarab Hall[edit]

The Zoombinis enter a cave with a series of scarab beetles on the wall in varying colors, each with a corresponding circle of the same color on the wall. The player must use buttons on the base of the wall to rotate the beetles in various patterns until they are all on the correct circles. For each time a player gets all of the beetles arranged properly, a set of doors opens in the cave, allowing up to four Zoombinis to pass through at a time. For a player to get all 8 Zoombinis through the cave, they must match all of the beetles in 2 different arrangements.

Chez Norf[edit]

The Zoombinis come across a village of furry creatures called Norfs, who will only let the Zoombinis pass if they serve the Norfs the right meals (a main course and a beverage, with a dessert as well on higher difficulties). The player must use the clues the Norfs give to deduce what each Norf wants. The more Norfs the player feeds before making too many mistakes, the more Zoombinis are allowed to pass.

South Tunnel[edit]

Rescue Site 2 to Booliewood[edit]
Ski Slopes[edit]
Boolie Pinball[edit]

Zoombinis help Boolies change from frowning to smiling by hitting them with pinballs. Boolies who are frowning will change to smiling when hit directly or indirectly when standing to the left of a smiling zoombini who has been changed to frowning (similarly to binary code). More Boolies are added as the difficulty increases.

Booliewood[edit]

Once the Boolies arrive their count shows up on a mold of the Grand Boolie Boolie. When the mold is full the Grand Boolie Boolie shows up.

Zoombinis Island Odyssey (2002)[edit]

In this game, the Zoombinis discover that they left the Zerbles, the native moths, to die in their former homeland of Zoombini Isle, and return to the Isle, which is now empty of the colonist Bloats who earlier enslaved the Zoombinis. A group of 12 Zoombinis, which can be customized, each carry a Zerble caterpillar to the island to restore the island life. The player must then complete different puzzles, such as growing berries and breeding butterflies, to eventually restore the ecosystem of the island. This game incorporates science concepts as well as math concepts into the puzzles, including intersection of rates, cryptography, astronomical time, Venn diagrams, and Punnett squares, as well as some reincarnations of puzzles from Logical Journey. The graphics have again received an update. The Zoombinis are fully 3-D, but their features are no longer important in gameplay. When the Zoombinis release 224 Zerbles into the wild, the game is won.

Gameplay[edit]

Catapult[edit]

In Catapult, the player must determine which slot in the wheel will fall onto the net that allows the catapult to hurl the Zoombini and caterpillar over the cliff. Some of the slots will miss and fall in the water. There are stones and mud balls. Stones are limited but only they can get the Zoombini over the cliff. Mud balls are used to determine which slots will send the Zoombinis flying. If a stone falls in the water, a Zoombini can't get over and the player will have to start over to get the Zoombini on the cliff.

Hieroglyphics[edit]

There is a wall with slots and various bricks with pictures on it. Without a key, the player must determine which symbols match. For each correct brick put in, the door opens allowing a Zoombini to enter. If too many wrong tries are done, the door will be sealed and the remaining Zoombinis can't get inside.

Planetarium[edit]

There are two dioramas, one of a tree on earth from space and one of the same tree with the sun setting. The players job is to insert coins into the dioramas so that they match the clock in the middle. When the player is successful, the caterpillars will hatch from their cocoons into moths.

Greenhouse[edit]

The player must put each moth on a path of flowers that will lead them to the other side.

Arno's Garden[edit]

Arno the pizza troll returns from the first Zoombini game. Here, he is a gardener helping plant berries. The player's job is to put the each of the plants that match in either the same leave, roots, buds, etc. But if two or three plants completely opposite are put together, Arno immediately digs it out and the sun sets a little. If the sun is gone then it's game over.

Feeding Corral[edit]

Mating Barn[edit]

Zoombinis (2015)[edit]

Graphical improvements ("Pizza Pass" level)
Original
Remake

In 2015, Logical Journey was remade for modern systems, under the name Zoombinis.[6][7] The main improvements of the remake are updated graphics (see pictures) and that the game is designed to run on modern operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and others). Zoombinis was officially released on 6 August 2015 for iOS and Android and was released for Windows and Mac, as well as Kindle Fire,[8] on 28 October 2015.[9]

In 2014, TERC, the original creator of Zoombinis, began an internally funded redevelopment of the game. Then, in March 2015, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund additional enhancements and releases, including PC and Kindle versions. It was successfully funded.[10] Also in 2015, the National Science Foundation awarded TERC nearly $2 million to study how much "computational thinking" kids do while playing Zoombinis, both at home and in the classroom, and whether teachers can extend the lessons outside the game.[11][12]

Educational Effects[edit]

As a computer game, Zoombinis is an entertaining activity for students from elementary to middle school. However, as an educational tool, Zoombinis stands above many other mathematical, analytical, and logical educational methods. The game works with problem solving through mathematics, deduction, and hypothesis testing primarily by clearly stating the goal of the problem at hand, with the option to either deduce for one's self or learn from with gameplay strategies for success.[13]

Mathematical Aspects[edit]

The different games a player encounters when trying to get the Zoombinis from Zoombini Isle to Zoombiniville represent many mathematical characteristics. "Pizza Pass", "Allergic Cliffs", and "Stone Cold Caves" exercise the sorting, grouping, and comparing of information. "Captain Cajun's Ferryboat", "Stone Rise", and "Titanic Tattooed Toads" reinforce ordering, linking information, and problem solving. "Fleens!", "Mudball Wall", and "Hotel Dimensia" emphasize graphing and mapping, while "Lions' Lair", "Mirror Machine", and "Bubblewonder Abyss" train the player in sorting, organizing, and algebraic thinking.[14]

Deductive Reasoning[edit]

Sub-games such as "Allergic Cliffs" and "Stone Cold Caves" require the player to find patterns and arrangements of the Zoombinis in order to pass the obstacle. Each game also has a select number of attempts which may be failures before a Zoombini is taken back to the beginning of the game at Zoombini Isle, giving an incentive for the player to think critically and not randomly guess answers. As a result, these games enable players' deductive skills while also enforcing strategic efficiency.[14]

Hypothesis Testing[edit]

Players also encounter critical thinking with testing and observing different logical outcomes in "Pizza Pass" and "Mudball Wall". By examining the varying characteristics of toppings on a pizza and the number and color of dots on a wall, the player can experiment with the correct patterns to get the Zoombinis to the next level. Similarly, with the deductive reasoning sub-games, these exercises discourage random guessing by giving only a few options to fail before losing a Zoombini.[14] However, with the games that involve more hypothesis testing, the incorrect guesses remain on the screen in a categorized pile so that the player might learn from previous attempts to come to the correct conclusion.

Game Effectiveness With Students[edit]

With the game's release in the Spring of 1996, through its continued use in the present, observations of the game have shown it to be efficient and useful for students and teachers alike. As a learning tool, the game is fun and interactive for children born into the continuously evolving technological era of 2016. The characters are generalized, but still have a cartoonish look to entice any young person who wants to learn, and the format of the game inspires group work. The communication created between two or more players talking about how to find the right kind of pizza or nose, eyes, and hair matching Zoombini is a simple and effective way that students have fun learning with the game.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dean Takahashi (2015-02-17). "Nonprofit brings back Zoombinis educational game and launches Kickstarter". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  2. ^ Shao, Yiqing (2015-02-18). "Zoombinis App to Be Released for Tablets and Desktop". Boston magazine. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  3. ^ "Logical Journey of the Zoombinis.(Broderbund)(The Learning Arcade) (Software Review)(Brief Article)(Evaluation)". Computer Shopper (subscription required) – via HighBeam Research. 
  4. ^ Pegoraro, Rob (April 7, 1996). "The Learning Game". The Washington Post  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "1997 Codies awarded for best software.". Tape-Disc Business  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). April 1, 1997. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Zoombinis on the App Store". iTunes App Store. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  7. ^ "Zoombinis on Google Play". Google Play. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  8. ^ "Zoombinis app page". Amazon app store. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "Zoombinis Steam Page". Steam. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  10. ^ "Zoombinis". TERC. Kickstarter. February 17, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  11. ^ Toppo, Greg (2015-08-06). "How a beloved video game came back from the dead 20 years after its improbable birth". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  12. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#1502882 - Zoombinis: The Full Development Implementation Research Study of a Computational Thinking Game for Upper Elementary and Middle School Learners". Nsf.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  13. ^ MURRAY, MEGAN; MOKROS, JAN; RUBIN, ANDEE (1999-01-01). "Mathematically Rich, Equitable Game Software". Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. 5 (3): 180–186. 
  14. ^ a b c Moss, Thomas P. (2004-01-01). Playful thoughts: A study of the effects of “Logical Journey of the Zoombinis” on elementary students' mathematical attitudes and reasoning skills (Ed.D. thesis). United States -- New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. 
  15. ^ Rubin, Andee et al. What Kind Of Educational Computer Games Would Girls Like?. 1st ed. Massachusetts: TERC, 1997. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

External links[edit]