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Video Game / Logical Journey of the Zoombinis

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The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis is the first and most well-known in a series of Edutainment Games. The story focuses on the Zoombinis, an idyllic race of cute blue Waddling Heads, each with different appearances and personalities, who live in peace on Zoombini Isle. One day, a race called the Bloats came in and offered to improve their trade routes and infrastructure. But the Zoombinis soon found themselves exploited as underpaid laborers for the Bloats, and so they set out to find a new homeland across the sea.

At the start of each trip, the player can customize (or randomly generate) a group of 16 Zoombinis. The puzzles often involve the Zoombinis' features - hair, eyes, noses, and feet - and often require trial and error in order to figure out the rules. The puzzles themselves range from braving difficult terrain (crossing bridges over allergic cliffs or traveling over a chasm in a bubble), to getting past the locals (such as the Pizza Trolls or the Fleens), to simply getting them all in the right place (in their seats on a barge, or in rooms in a hotel).

At the very end, the Zoombinis that were successfully led through the dangers find themselves in Zoombiniville, where they build more and greater monuments as the population grows.

Had two much less famous sequels, Zoombinis: Mountain Rescue and Zoombinis: Island Odyssey.

  • In Mountain Rescue, after a group of Zoombinis get lost exploring a mountain, they come across another group of explorers from a race called Boolies, who have also lost their way from their hometown of Booliewood. The Zoombinis must help the Boolies by bringing them back home in order to summon the Boolies' leader, the Grand Boolie Boolie.

  • In Island Odyssey, the Zoombinis discover the Bloats have since abandoned Zoombini Isle, leaving it an ecological wasteland. The Zoombinis send a team to survey the damage, who discover that the local Zerble population is on the verge of extinction. The Zoombinis set out to help the Zerbles and restore the ecology of Zoombini Isle.

In 2015, a remake of Logical Journey, simply titled Zoombinis, was successfully funded on Kickstarter. It was released on iOS and Android shortly afterward, and later on Windows and Mac (through Steam) and Kindle. There were multiple bugs in the game as released that make some of the puzzles freeze at times, and make others unsolvable. Many bugs weren't addressed until mid-2022.

Tropes in the game:

  • 100% Completion:
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Many of the puzzle names: Pizza Pass, Titanic Tattooed Toads, Mirror Machine, etc.
    • All of the Zoombiniville monuments have this in spades. Even the verb describing how the monument was built is often alliterative with the building's name.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Arno, Willa and Shyler are referred to as "Pizza Trolls," but they resemble walking trees without leaves. They also love pizza and sundaes, but are extremely fussy about their toppings.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The Zoombinis are blue and the Fleens are green, though neither of them are particularly humanoid.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: One of the narrator's lines in Zoombiniville reassures the player that they've done enough for now and they should go get some fresh air.
  • Armless Biped: Some Zoombinis. The rest don't even have legs, bouncing around on springs or floating around on propellers.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • In the Kickstarter campaign for the remake, the lowest-tier rewards were "Just the toppings", "Come on, more stuff!", and "The perfect (digital) pizza", all of which are based on lines from Arno the Pizza Troll.
    • The trailer for the campaign itself also included several. It started off with Arno shouting "MORE TOPPINGS!!" The trailer then goes on to say, "More fun! More ways to play! More graphics and sound! More adventure! MORE ARNO!!"
  • Beef Gate: The second half of the game ramps up the difficulty of the puzzles; the Fleens minigame specifically seems to exist to punish players who "cheated" some of the earlier games by creating twins, as you have to find the three Fleens that will trigger the swarm.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shyler the pizza troll; his Shrinking Violet persona doesn't stop him from getting violent with the Zoombinis if they don't get his pizza right.
  • Black Bead Eyes: One of the eyes options for Zoombinis in the remake.
  • Blatant Lies: Captain Cajun opens up his level with "Well, sit wherever you want to, I don't really care." He cares. Although it's true for the very first Zoombini that sits down.
  • Bleak Level: The last three puzzles are all in a cave and have gloomier music and creepier ambient sounds compared to the rest of the game. It's also the only leg of the journey where you don't meet anyone new.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: In the original, half the Zoombinis are different in appearance (the other half are the first half's twins). In the remake, it is possible to have more than twins, just not on the same crew anymore.
  • Circling Birdies: Zoombinis that have recently taken a tumble will have stars circling their heads for a moment.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Bloats come off as malignant business owners, which fits in with the game's description of Zoombinis and their business-like manner. Two major examples being the exploitation of Zoombinis as menial laborers and turning their island into a wasteland in Island Odyssey
  • Cyclops: Some of the Zoombinis only have one eye.
  • Digitized Sprites: The first game uses pixel art (and the remake uses vectors), but the two TLC games have pre-rendered CGI images.
  • Does Not Like Spam: The Pizza Trolls have certain toppings that they hate. Another thing to note is that each topping is favored by only one troll at most; the others hate that topping.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: If you get through a route without losing Zoombinis three times, all of that route's puzzles become harder.
  • Every Pizza Is Pepperoni: Averted. Pepperoni is one of the toppings you can put on Arno the Pizza Troll's pizzas, but it isn't treated as the "default". Nor is it more likely than any other option to be the topping Arno wants.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Fleens may well be this to the Zoombinis. On easier difficulties, each trait they have even directly corresponds to a Zoombini trait. On harder difficulties, their traits correspond to another Zoombini trait.
    • Apparently, the Fleens used to be an offshoot of the Zoombinis until they were mutated... by bad hair products.
  • Evil Laugh: One of the several snippets of narration that can play at the Shade Tree rest stop includes the narrator bursting into one after boasting that the most dangerous trials are yet to come.
  • Excuse Plot: The Zoombinis need to make it to their safe haven, and only you can help! Are you a bad enough dude to help the Zoombinis?
  • Fat Bastard: Shyler the Pizza Troll is the nice one with a pudgy tummy despite him being very shy due to where his name originated.
  • Floating in a Bubble: This allows your Zoombinis to cross the Bubblewonder Abyss. Of course, there are many obstacles in the way...
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Harder difficulties of the Titanic Tattooed Toads level have these coming out of the water to block the way.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: If you get mismatched images on the central crystal of the Mirror Machine, the crystal will lower into the path of the unfortunate Zoombini, who will smack face-first into the crystal and tumble into the abyss.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: The Zoombinis have kids' hairstyles. The Fleens have punk/gangster hairstyles or headwear, and they're evil.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Gravitational cognizance variety at Hotel Dimensia. When a platform yanks itself out from underneath a Zoombini, the Zoombini won't fall until after he/she has looked down.
  • Grid Puzzle
    • Mudball Wall has a grid with the color and shape of the ball determining which cell gets hit; "Very Hard" and "Very Very Hard" add a second color inside the shape. On "Oh So Hard" and "Very Very Hard", one variable doesn't correspond directly to its position in the grid, but a pattern still applies to it (e.g., the top row's shape order might be square-star-triangle-circle-diamond but the next row is star-triangle-circle-diamond-square).
    • Hotel Dimensia requires Zoombinis to be sorted by one of their features per dimension of the room grid. The size of the hotel corresponds with the difficulty: on "Not So Easy" there's only one dimension (sort by one of the four Zoombini features), on "Oh So Hard" and "Very Hard" the hotel expands to two dimensions (one feature for the row, another for the column; "Very Hard" has some rooms blocked off because of Fleens wrecking them), and "Very Very Hard" has three dimensions (the third one achieved by subdividing each of the rooms into a suite with five rooms apiece).
  • Growling Gut: It happens mostly to Shyler the Pizza Troll and Crystal the Stone Guard when both of them are hungry.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Though not very obvious due to her apron, Ulla Instantaneous, the innkeeper of Hotel Dimensia/Didimension Hotel, doesn't wear pants.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After being an obstacle the Zoombinis had to overcome in the first game, Arno ends up assisting the Zoombinis in Island Odyssey by loaning his garden for them to plant seedlings necessary for the Zerbles' survival.
  • Hidden Elf Village: It may be argued the first game is the origin story of a Hidden Elf Village. Zoombiniville is an idyllic, deliberately secluded town that a completely virtuous species settled in order to escape persecution.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: From "Not So Easy" to "Very, Very Hard".
  • Idle Animation
  • Inherently Funny Words: "Snozzleberry" in Island Odyssey.
  • Jet Pack: Some of the Fleens have them in place of feet.
  • Large Ham: The narrator, and Arno the Pizza Troll.
  • Living Crashpad: Defied - if a Zoombini is loitering where another Zoombini is about to fall, the first Zoombini will scramble out of the way.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • The Fleens puzzle can easily become this if you use twins.
    • You may well be leaving some Zoombinis behind at Hotel Dimensia/Didimension Hotel if you place your first Zoombini in the wrong room on Very Hard, due to some rooms being unavailable.
    • The Lion's Lair puzzle is this on Very, Very Hard, since you're only allowed a few mistakes and you don't get any hints.
  • The Migration: The Zoombinis flee Bloat-controlled Zoombini Isle and seek a new place to settle.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Implied during the Mirror Machine puzzle. Some Zoombinis scream in terror as they hurtle over the gap in the tracks, others whoop in delight.note 
  • Non-Indicative Difficulty:
    • The Titanic Tattooed Toads can be easier on Oh, So Hard than on Not So Easy. Thanks to the new lilypad-swapping wand, you have more options for solving the puzzle and can recover if you accidentally put a toad on the wrong path.
    • Fleens! can be harder on Oh, So Hard than on Very Hard because only four Zoombinis can fit on the tree branch at once instead of the usual six. Since it takes three Zoombinis to lure the necessary Fleens down, you can only afford one wrong guess before you start losing Zoombinis.
    • Hotel Dimensia can be harder on Very Hard difficulty than on Very, Very Hard due to the boarded-up rooms. On Very Hard, you can leave some Zoombinis with no place to go if you place the first ones wrong, and it's not easy to tell before you screw up irreversibly. Very, Very Hard adds more rooms, but none are boarded up, so perfect completion is always possible.
  • NPC Boom Village: Zoombiniville. Successfully navigating your Zoombinis rewards you with new citizens for this up-and-coming settlement. As the town gets bigger, you get more monuments to your achievements.
  • Obsessively Organized: Captain Cajun will not let you sit on his boat if you don't share a similar attribute with the people next to you.
  • Orphaned Series: Before the Kickstarter revived it, the Chain of Deals that publisher Broderbund went through was not easy on the Zoombinis at all.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • If you get all the Zoombinis to safety, at least one of the normally stuffy Stone Guards will be impressed and congratulate you.
    • Arno has a chance of giving a sincerely heartfelt thank you when you make him his pizza.
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: Zig-zagged. The revival adds pineapple as one of the toppings to put on Arno's pizza, and he's likely to want it as much as to exclude it.
  • The Pratfall: Often (but not always) accompanied by stars circling the unfortunate Zoombini.
  • The Quincy Punk: The Fleens are, for the most part, a bunch of little green Waddling Head Quincy Punks.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Zoombinis.
  • Rock Monster: The Stone Guardians and the Allergic Cliffs.
  • Rollercoaster Mine: The Mirror Machine puzzle features carts that Zoombinis have to ride. There's a gap in the tracks that each Zoombini has to fling themselves over - whether or not the central crystal has matching images determines whether the Zoombini makes it across with the cart or gets knocked off into the abyss.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: An unusually benevolent example. Apparently, bees have no problem with Zoombinis, but they do have a problem with Fleens. Then again, the Fleens were the ones who disturbed them first.
  • Slave Race: The Zoombinis almost become this when they are tricked by the Bloats at the beginning of the game. The game depicts the Zoombinis' search for a new home.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: The game is practically built on soup cans. Some of them make more sense in the context of the story than others, but they're all fairly outlandish. Slips into Alphabet Soup Cans at some points.
  • Speaking Simlish: The NPCs speak English, but the Zoombinis and the Fleens communicate in nonsensical chatter.
  • There Are No Tents: Hotel Dimensia is a hotel in the wilderness run by a kind squirrel named Ulla Instantaneous. It's a safe place for the Zoombinis to stay in for the night, but getting into the hotel is a puzzle in itself.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Some Zoombinis do not sound happy about the prospect of being catapulted over Mudball Wall.
  • Tone Shift: The first leg of the journey is bright and silly. However, once the player passes Shade Tree, things get substantially darker (in terms of lighting and content) and more serious. The lack of new characters to interact with makes things feel even more lonely and strongly indicates that the Zoombinis are truly in dangerous territory.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Arno the pizza troll goes from being a selfish and wrathful obstacle in the first game, to a grumpy but loyal ally in Island Odyssey who is helping the Zoombinis restore their island.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The minigames require various amounts of trial and error in order for you to collect enough information to solve the puzzle. One of them (specifically, Fleens!) appears to be a member of this contingent, but can be figured out before sending any Zoombinis if you pay careful attention to the puzzle.
    • At least, so long as you didn't make all or most of your Zoombini party out of sets of twins, which takes it past Trial-and-Error Gameplay and into Luck-Based Mission territory. For that matter, even if you just have a few duplicate Zoombinis, if one ends up on the branch then it's impossible to tell which twin you need to send out before trying it.
  • Two Girls to a Team: There are three male Zoombini hairstyles and two female ones, though their actual genders are ambiguous.
  • Unexplained Recovery: While the Zoombinis surviving failing most challenges to try again later are Hand Waved in the manual by saying they're resourceful, Bubblewonder Abyss shows Zoombinis being sucked into a vortex and vaporized if you fail. And yet, they're right back at Shade Tree afterwards. There's also the Easter Egg if you throw a Zoombini into the chasm in the Lion's Lair; they get chucked back from the pit onto the platform.
  • Unwinnable: Depending on the exact makeup of the group, it might be mathematically impossible to get all sixteen Zoombinis onto Captain Cajun's Ferry if your party has too many Zoombinis with unique traits. Thankfully, the Ferry is the first puzzle on the Who's Bayou route from Shelter Rock and you can customize your party's makeup before setting off for the Ferry, so restarting won't take too much time. This situation is more likely at the higher difficulties due to having more neighbors for each seat to match traits with, though it's still possible even at the Not So Easy lowest level; getting that situation purely by random generated Zoombinis is so remote though you'd have to be doing it on purpose to get into it.
  • Updated Re-release: TERC came up with one on Kickstarter.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Of course there's the obvious way (intentionally getting things wrong), but in examples that you won't be punished for, you can electrocute a Zoombini in Stone Rise by dragging them onto an unavailable space, and in the Lion's Lair, you can throw them into the chasm instead of placing them on the path. They wind up back where they started, but still.note 
  • Video-Game Lives: In certain areas, the number of "chances" you have are represented by things like pegs keeping a door or bridge from collapsing, the number of Zoombinis on a tree branch, or a clock that ticks down to midnight.
  • Waddling Head: The Zoombinis have no arms, and move stuff around by carrying it on their heads or pushing it. One of the Stone Guardians calls them "little pebbles." The ones that have feet do, however, have legs connecting their feet to their bodies.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Arno the pizza troll. Whereas previous levels allowed the player to progress if they so much as got one Zoombini through, Pizza Pass requires the player to solve the puzzle in order to proceed. As such, younger players whom brute forced their way through The Allergic Cliffs and The Stone Cold Caves are likely to lose every remaining Zoombini to Arno. This serves as a wake-up call for players to start paying attention in order to get anywhere in the game.