A few months ago I gushed about a Kickstarter campaign that promised to bring one of my favorite computer games ever, Zoombinis, to the 21st century. Due to the success of that campaign, the Zoombinis app is now available on iTunes and Google Play. Windows, Mac, and Kindle Fire versions will be available later this year.
I was excited to download the app a few weeks ago when it finally became available to Kickstarter supporters. Back when we were allowed to download our own software, I had the game in my classroom for my students to play. I highly respected the logic skills the game promoted, so when my daughter was younger, I bought a version for her to try at home.
My daughter is now 12, and vaguely remembers playing the original game. I guessed that she would like the app, but I did not predict the high level of engagement that I’ve observed the last few weeks.
The Zoombinis game is all about logic. Your goal is to get the Zoombinis to their new home, navigating through perilous puzzles along the way. Each Zoombini has the following attributes that can be mixed and matched: hair, eyes, feet, and noses. The challenges are based on those attributes.
For example, the Allergy Cliffs have 2 bridges. If you place a Zoombini on the correct bridge, the little guy will quickly cross. If it’s the wrong bridge, the cliff sneezes him or her off. You have to figure out the “rule” for each bridge. Only blue noses? Only the ones with glasses? Carefully test your theories before too many sneezes make you lose some Zoombinis.
There are several different types of puzzles along the journey. If you aren’t good at one, that’s okay; the puzzle remains on that level until you’ve mastered it. Each puzzle is tailored to your skills, so after a few trips to the end you may end up with different puzzles on different levels of difficulty.
One particular favorite is the pizza puzzle. You must figure out exactly what toppings Arno wants on his pizza. Children quickly learn that you need to be methodical because random guesses will end up with a Zoombini or two getting booted off the screen.
Playing Zoombinis together is a fun way for my daughter and I to bond. It’s also a great opportunity to model problem-solving skills. One of the most frustrating qualities of the game is also one of the best qualities – very few instructions are given. Watching a child struggle is never easy, but the way his or her face lights up when solving a Zoombinis problem makes it all worthwhile.
The Zoombinis app is $4.99. This may seem like an enormous amount for an app, but I guarantee that it’s worth it. It teaches so many thinking skills and sustains interest for a very long time. If you are a teacher or a parent of multiple children, you will be happy to know that different students can save games on the same iPad so their progress won’t be lost.
This game is cute, fun, and educational. What are you waiting for? Download it today!