Ever have one of those Christmases where someone gives you something you don’t want – like a terrible cold? That was my Christmas this year. I spend a chunk of time on my couch trying to get into the holiday spirit but really I just kept the tissue companies in business. One good thing came out of all of this – I got to play a lot of ThinkFun’s Rush Hour. Now I know in the past I’ve said that one-player products aren’t games and this is a game review website, but I’m going to make an exception for this one because I like it so much.
Rush Hour is a great brain-teaser/puzzle. The game consists of 15 cars and trucks that block your little red “fancy” car from getting off the grid. To play you select one challenge card and set up a little traffic jam. The goal is for you to get your car off the grid and it may take quite a bit of shuffling the other cars back and forth to make this happen. The puzzles range from very easy to pretty challenging and the folks at ThinkFun were kind enough to include answers on the back of each card in case you are stumped. There are also add-on packs that come with new cars, like a white stretched limo and a yellow taxi, that create all new puzzles so you have something to tackle after you’ve managed to conquer the forty it comes with!
Since it was released in 1996 more than 5 million copies of Rush Hour have been sold and it can be purchased in 32 countries! Rush Hour is used in schools to teach kids critical thinking skills including problem solving and strategy and this February ThinkFun is planning another Rush Hour iPhone Contest in which they will donate copies of Rush Hour to needy schools in the winner’s name! (for more info: click here)
Rush Hour was invented by Nob Yoshigahara, a famous Japanese puzzle inventor who brought the concept to ThinkFun (then Binary Arts) back in 1995. At the time is was called “Tokyo Parking” and instead of being a traffic jam, it was a hellish parking lot. (Frankly, those seem pretty similar to me living in Chicago – our expressways at rush hour always look like one long parking lot!) Anyway, ThinkFun improved upon Nob’s concept by placing it in a nice grid with cars that easily slid back and forth. They also changed the name from Tokyo Parking to Rush Hour and insisted on keeping the message positive. Instead of being angry at the terrible parking skills of the other cars, players see getting out of the tangled mess of rush hour traffic a challenge. And with some of the more difficult cards – it really is!
In addition to the physical Rush Hour game, if you own an iPhone you can get the Rush Hour app that was released right before Christmas. For less than a buck you can get over 2500 puzzles! Quite a deal. (And don’t be fooled by any of the similar apps – you really want the official Rush Hour one!)
So despite not really being a “game” this puzzle gets high marks with the game testers here at The Game Aisle. It’s a great product to enjoy when no one wants to play any games against you!
Rush Hour Stats:
$20 at Amazon and stores that sell ThinkFun games. Other versions like a Railroad, Safari and Junior are available. (Brain Fitness version is pictured at the top) Add-on packs will run you about $8 for 1 new car and 40 new challenges.
Time depends on level and skill
Ages 8 and up