Friday, April 12, 2024

My First Rush Hour Puts 3 Year Olds In a Jam

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Ever wanted to capture the feeling of being stuck in traffic? Want to inflicts that on your toddler? Well this might be the game for you! My First Rush Hour is a simplified version of Thinkfun’s already popular puzzle game, Rush Hour. In Rush Hour you have to follow the rules as to how cars move and try to free the red car to get out of the “maze”.  It takes brainpower to deal with. My First Rush Hour takes the same traffic jam problem by streamlines it so even small children can get in on the fun.

my first rush hour box art

What’s Included?

  • Parking lot game grid with exit ramp
  • 1 red hero car
  • 6 vehicles of different colors and sizes
  • 1 safety officer 
  • 15 double sided challenge cards
  • 1 Instruction card
my first rush hour components

How Does It Play?

The plastic parking lot is laid out and players select a challenge card to slide in underneath the transparent game grid. There are 5 cards for each level giving you a total of 10 east, 10 medium, and 10 “hard” challenges. After the card is slid in, all vehicles and safety officer are placed in their proper positions on the top of the plastic grid. Sometimes you can match the correct item in its position because it shows the matching color and shape that represents that item.

my first rush hour puzzle levels

Other times, you might only have a color its left grey and the shape is the only clue as to which item goes where. The instruction card is used for players to reference, helping place the correct item on the correct space.  After all items have been placed in the correct spots, facing the right way, the player can then get the red hero car out of the traffic jam and down the exit ramp.

Depending on the puzzle, you can move the one square small cars forward and backward from the way it’s facing but these cars can not turn. The bigger vehicles, on the other hand, are stationary and can’t ever move. The safety officer can move forwards, backwards, left, or right to make a better path for the hero card when its in the way. The red hero car can go in all direction including turning in a space to get out. When moving any pieces on the board, you can never lift them up off the board, they slide according to their directions that they can move. All these rules are also listed on the instruction card. The player or players win after moving the red hero card out and can then choose another card providing a different puzzle. 

my first rush hour placing the vehicles on the grid

The Verdict?

Prior to this, I had played the “base” normal version and also a similar version made into an app. I really appreciated the puzzles and was excited to see my kids share the same experiences that I did when I first played this game. I was surprised to find how easy these puzzles were. We started with a random easy puzzle and my 5 year old simply drove the red hero car out of the traffic jam without needing to move anything else. We thought lets let our 3 year old try a different easy puzzle and see what he does. All the pieces were placed correctly and he, just like my 5 year old, drove the car right out without having to move anything else. We thought hmmm ok the easy are way too easy, so lets do a hard one and see what puzzle gets presented. Expecting something that might challenge the kids, the hard puzzle only caused the kids to move 1 car back a couple spaces and then just like the easy puzzles, they drove the hero car right out of the traffic jam. We tried to find the hardest puzzle and it only caused the player to move 2 items total to get the car out. 

my first rush hour cars on the grid

These puzzles are just really easy. The kids didn’t complain, and they were excited about the pieces and moving them around, but we felt like it didn’t contain a puzzle hard enough for either of them. So, is the game more for kids younger then 3? Possibly, but it would be hard for those younger kids to handle the pieces without lifting them up off the grid. 

I understand that this version of the game is “my first” rush hour, but by the time a kid is able to play with this toy or puzzle, they will be advanced enough to most likely play with the other versions like possibly the rush hour jr. or rush hour itself. I personally don’t know how those actually play and how hard the puzzles are, but I feel like they would be a better match for a kid when they are ready to try these puzzles out. 

My kids also wanted to move the bigger vehicles, but they are to be stationary in this game. I felt like letting all the vehicles move would match the theme and make a little more sense for the game, although I understand that it could make the puzzles more difficult. But that’s exactly what I think my 3 year old needed. 

The pieces look great. I love the setup of each puzzle as the player places all the components on the grid with the clues it provides, also making sure each vehicle is facing the correct way. This is almost a puzzle before the “puzzle”. But the actual puzzles I felt disappointed with.  When playing with it we now place all the components where we want making our own puzzle for the active player to solve, and that works better. 

my first rush hour using the reference chart

You can pick up My First Rush Hour on Amazon.

Images via Brody and ThinkFun

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