Year Published: September 1, 2007
As wonderful as the summer months can be, many parents are immediately faced with a number of challenges as their children are released for their vacation. The struggle of finding ideas to keep children busy is very real, and I walked into summer this year knowing that I had no intention of keeping my 5 year sitting at home idle as I also watch over our two year old.
Fortunately, I walked into the break with a game plan. Having spent some 15 years working in educational and day care programs for K-8 graders, I was in a rather unique position now as a parent of having been required to make all of the toy purchases for all the children in my programs at one point in time. I wanted to get some games. Rush Hour was at the top of my list of things to buy for my 5 year old.
My wife, of course was a bit cynical when I stated that I needed to get a few board games “for the children” this summer (surely she thought I was secretly getting them for someone else under a false pretense. Who? Me? Would I do such a thing? 😉
I ended up purchasing Rush Hour : Deluxe edition when we finally took our outing to the not-so-local toy store a few weeks ago. Yes I could have purchased this on Amazon much sooner, but I really try to support the local stores as much as I can, so had to wait a few months longer than I would have liked.
But the wait was worth it.
Rush Hour has been available in North American since the late 1990’s now, and I remember being among the first to try it, although in limited capacity. Being that I usually had a room full of children to supervise, I could normally only watch children play the game, with the rare occasion that I could partake in the game myself, but my recollections of the game remained strong enough to know the game’s strengths well enough to know that it warranted an immediate purchase for me once my children became of age to play it.
For the uninitiated , Rush Hour : Deluxe Edition (and whatever other edition you may find that uses the same name), is a puzzle game meant for just a single player, where the sole objective is to get your shiny red car out of a traffic game and home safely.
The fact that this is a one-player game may seem a bit limiting at a glance, but I will qualify that in my experience, this is the game’s greatest strength.
The Deluxe Edition comes at a price that is especially fair considering all the use it may end up getting. I was able to find mine for about $25 USD, and you can probably find it cheaper if you look. There are other editions out there, some lesser valued and some greater, but I wanted to get the Deluxe Edition in particular for the upgraded metallic paint job the plastic cars received over the standard edition. It also comes with 60 puzzle cards instead of 40 available in the standard edition.
The game board itself is a black plastic grid that is designed to place various cars and trucks in such a way that they can only slide vertically or horizontally, depending on the initial orientation of the vehicles. They are essentially locked into being able to move only left-right or up-down once placed, as soon as the board is set , you are not allowed to lift the cars or trucks to reorient them!
The game starts by choosing a puzzle card, which range from Beginner to Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and Grand Master difficulties. The player then sets up the grid with cars and trucks as prescribed by the picture on the card, and then the game begins. Easy as pie!
The sole goal is to find a way to move all of the traffic out of the way so that your flashy red car can move to the game boards’ exit located at the upper right corner of the board.
Simple in theory. In practice it can be quite taxing for a developing mind—but also quite entertaining!
The magic of this game really lies in its ability to test logic and reasoning skills in a fun and intuitive way. I know my 5 year old’s skills pretty well enough that she can struggle with following rules consistently, and that while she is extremely gifted in some areas, sometimes logic isn’t her greatest aptitude at this stage in development. Still, one has to learn to push their limits and challenge themselves, and I can say that I am very much pleased in how quickly my daughter learned to rise to the challenges of Rush Hour.
While I initially did need to watch and supervise the first few games to make sure she followed the rules, she caught on quickly and best of all has now found a fun new activity she can partake in whenever she needs a break from her younger sister.
And, in the past few weeks, she has grown in confidence and ability in Rush Hour enough that I can leave her unsupervised with the game for a good chunk of time, and can trust that when she tells me she completed a puzzle legitimately , she is sincere. When I come to look at her “solution” to the traffic jams, it is easy enough for an adult to tell by the final orientation of the cars and trucks that she has not cheated. As of yet, she has completed the first 10 “beginner” level challenges, and can do them with relative ease now, and has moved onto the Intermediate level sets. Sometimes , her success may be luck or the result of trial and error, so to play it safe, I will often have her replicate her results to ensure her triumph is due more to skill than luck.
So Rush Hour can fare very well for some 5 year olds, but is that all the game can accomplish?
Not in the least.
In my experience, the game actually holds up very well with all age levels.
I remember countless days where a lone teenager would be stuck waiting for their parents to arrive to pick them up as the last child remaining in my program at the end of the day. This game was a life saver, for both me and them. All they needed to do was select an age-appropriate challenge, and they could spend the rest of their afternoon peacefully working out the puzzles. Even on days where many children were there, I would often enough see children grouped together trying to play and help each other out in determining solutions.
But as an added benefit…there is yet more!
Believe it or not, I find that Rush Hour is actually very fit for adults as well as children, as rare of an occurrence as this may be!
I walked into purchasing Rush Hour fully knowing that its upper-tier challenges are satisfying enough for grown-ups. Although the game itself may not be as replayable once you have completed the challenges for adults as much as it is for children, a parent can just as easily waste an afternoon or two or three in taking on the Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and Grand Master challenges of Rush Hour. But more to the point, they can actually have fun with it!
As an example, last week my two year old was very cranky and I needed to put her down for a nap. Rush Hour usually is kept in a hidden spot so that the 2 year old does not wreck the game for my 5 year old, so consequently it only comes out when I know I can safely separate the two children. As I walked in to my wife’s home office where the game is hidden, she said she wanted to try it out then and there to verify that the game is indeed as education as I stated it is for children. So she had me set up the game using an Intermediate challenge, and I left the game with her for about 10 minutes while I went to calm down our cranky toddler.
I literally had to pull the game away from her when I came back. She didn’t want to give it back!
I have also spent a few afternoons playing on the Expert and Grand Master puzzles when I have the opportunity, and they are indeed quite taxing “little”brain teasers. I love that this game can be enjoyed by so many age levels.
I did some looking around on Think Fun!’s website , and am happy to report that should we manage to blow through all of the 60 challenges in the game’s deck, they sell expansion decks for those who are looking for more fun. I am saying it’s a pretty safe bet that we will end up buying these.
Long story short, Rush Hour may “seem” like a just children’s game, and treated as such it certainly does excel. I can see the gears turning in my 5-year-old’s head, a clear indication that this game is doing its job as a STEAM or STEM product.
More amazing is the fact that all age levels can have fun with this experience. It may be simple in design and execution, but that does not stop it from rolling over the competition.
But perhaps for parents, the best thing I have to say about Rush Hour is that you can create an experience that is both educational and diversional for your children while you go about completing all of the essential tasks of your day that demand your immediate attention. For the parent that is always struggling to make dinner or performing the unending set of chores-to-do around the house, this game can be a life-saver!
10 / 10 — Rush Hour does what it is designed to do impeccably while being sturdy and good enough for children and adults alike!
Jazz Paladin- Reviewer