Rush Hour is a good time killer, but in the long run a mediocre puzzle game about traffic jam doesn’t offer enough fun.
No, Rush Hour has nothing to do with the Jackie Chan film series sharing the same name. This puzzle board game – as its name suggests – is about cars caught in a traffic jam. Your task is to move the red car out of the game board through the only available opening located in the right side of the board. In fact, it doesn’t have to be the red car as there’s always only one car that can exit the board. So if you enjoy more freeing a green, blue or any other colored car it’s totally okay to replace the red car with it. Nevertheless, you can’t replace the red car with a truck as the puzzles are designed for cars. That’s sad news for the truck fans.
The game itself is very simple to play. You select a puzzle card and place the cars and the trucks on the game board as indicated in the card’s picture. By moving the vehicles you’ll try to free the one car. The vehicles can only move back and forth, thus some of them will only move horizontally and others vertically during a puzzle.
The movement can be very limited depending on the puzzle you’re playing. The game board is sized 6×6 squares. The cars are the size of 2 squares, and the trucks are 3. The more there are vehicles on the board, the less there are options for what vehicle to move and where. Though a puzzle filled with vehicles may seem hard at first glance it can actually be easier than a puzzle with less cars and more moving space.
There are 4 different difficulty levels featuring 10 puzzles each, so in total there are 40 different puzzles to play. The difficulty levels are beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. However, when playing on a certain difficulty level the number of the card doesn’t really tell you how hard the puzzle actually is. In other words, when playing on beginner the second puzzle can be trickier for you to solve than the ninth puzzle.
Once you learn to think like a plastic car you’ll start to solve the puzzles with a faster pace. Still, every now and then you may get stuck in a certain puzzle for a longer time. If you think that there’s no way to solve the puzzle you can flip the puzzle card. On the flip side there are step-by-step instructions on how to beat the puzzle. At first the instructions may feel harder to read than a real-life road map but once you get the idea it’s really not that hard.
Rush Hour is simple and challenging but it’s far from perfect. It’s a good game in small portions but during longer sessions you start to feel boredom. There’s no variation in the gameplay or any surprise elements to keep the game fresh so playing is always just the same. Additionally, you don’t get a huge satisfaction for solving the puzzles so playing the game isn’t rewarding enough. In conclusion, Rush Hour is a mediocre puzzle game which is mainly good for killing time.
Designer: Nob Yoshigahara
Publisher: ThinkFun, Alga
Release year: 1996
Age recommendation: 8+