Review by D'Hoost
"A great game for learning, and after 10 years I still love it."
When you have little children, it's best to give them expose them to the computer slowly, through the right channels. "Give them simple games that teach them house to use the mouse" my mother always says (as a preschool teacher). Games like Mixed-Up Mother Goose are great for little kids because the game teaches basic computer mouse skills and also teaching the child nursery rhymes.
The three largest children's companies back in the day were PROBABLY the Learning Company, Sierra and Broderbund.
Sierra had Doctor Brain and the Incredible Machine, the Learning Company had DOZENS of games, and Broderbund... they had the Zoombinis. The cute little blue things captured the hearts of many, and regardless of age, it will be sure to bring enjoyment to everyone.
The premise of the game is that you are in control of a race of creatures known as the Zoombinis. These little guys have been mercilessly enslaved against their will and seek to find a new home elsewhere. It's your job to lead them to safety.
Now, don't think Lemmings just yet- the two games have nothing in common. This is not a game of controlling mindless characters frantically while trying to stop them from committing suicide off a cliff. No, this game is a whole other pretense.
The Zoombinis have escaped their slave drivers and wish to reach a new home that they have dubbed Zoombiniville. Don't look any deeper than that, because that's the entire story. The game isn't about plot anyway, it's about the gameplay.
So, the gameplay- The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis consists of 12 levels broken up into four paths of three. Each level requires the gamer to use visual interpretation and logic to deduce the best way to proceed. Some levels have multiple paths to take and only Zoombinis with certain features can take each path- it's up the gamer to figure out which Zoombinis can go which way based on patterns of how the game rejects them from the other paths. If you don't figure out the puzzle in the allotted time, your Zoombinis fail to complete the puzzle and must return to the beginning of whatever path they're on.
There's also a learning curve of sorts- the game starts on easy mode, and once you have managed to complete a puzzle without making a mistake, the difficulty will increase. There are four difficulty levels, so you could be on Easy mode in some puzzles and on Very Hard in other levels depending on where your strengths and weaknesses lie. A brilliant system allows for you to get the full challenge out of the game without being forced to move on to the next skill level before you are ready.
If you have children, it teaches them good computer interface as well as requiring them to look at and analyze what they're playing. A playable game at an age as early as kindergarten and easily difficult for adults of all ages, The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis will probably survive for many years to come as one of the fundamental learning games for children on the PC.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/06
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