In this case study we’re going to examine the soundtrack of Logical Journey of the Zoombinis (Brøderbund, 1996). We’ll deep dive into a couple of specific musical features, and consider how the music lends an emotional edge to an abstract, if not downright alien, game.
The 90s were something of a golden age for “edutainment” games. (I say this with no small bias, having grown up amongst countless such titles, whose brightly packaged CD cases assured us their contents were “enriching” and “compatible with Windows 3.1 and Windows 95”.) With home computers beginning to gain traction, the genre was new enough for everything to be terra nova, but mature enough to afford dedicated studios and publishers.
It was in this environment that Logical Journey of the Zoombinis was created. Published by Brøderbund (Carmen Sandiego series, Myst), Zoombinis features the adventures of the Zoombinis, a race of little blue folk with distinct nose colours, eyes, and so on. These distinctions form the basis for various minigames that build players’ inductive and deductive reasoning skills. Players learn to test hypotheses (can I safely send my one-eyed Zoombinis down this path?, does this racist hotel clerk want everyone segregated by colour or footwear?), build complex structures, and even debug computer programs. This is some cerebral craziness. One minigame is literally subgraph isomorphism. Continue reading Music and Zoombinis Logical Journey of the Zoombinis is a maths bootcamp without a single number on-screen. How does its music draw young players into its world?