Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Rush Hour by Thinkfun - visual puzzle with vehicles

Purpose of App: This app mimics the physical ThinkFun Rush Hour game. Get the red car to the exit by moving the cars and trucks that are blocking it out of the way. The cars can only move forward and backward in the direction they are facing.

Strengths: Many levels with no in app purchases. iTunes states that there are 2500 challenges. There is also a hint and solve button for users to apply to each level.

Weaknesses: Unlike the physical game, the user does not have to set up the board following a visual. The game can be hard for those with decreased frustration tolerance or ability to follow directions.

Suggested Audience: Children and adults with good or developing visual motor skills, in addition to good frustration tolerance and ability to follow directions.

Star Rating Breakdown:
 Meets intended goal
Worth the Price
Ease of Use
Educational Value
Level of Customization

If you would like to download Rush Hour ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using the following link:


Rush Hour is one of my favorite visual planning games to use with many of my students, and I couldn’t wait to try the app during my sessions. My students love to work for screen time, and with this app I can sneak in some therapy with the fun.

Rush Hour is a visual puzzle where the user attempts to get the red car to exit the side of the game board. The other cars and trucks vary in length and block the way--getting the red car to exit requires visual planning and problem solving. The user may need to move the red car in the wrong direction at first, in order to allow other cars in the way to move, requiring flexibility of thinking, too.

In this pictured board (Easy #7), the user would complete the following sequence: move the red car left two spaces, move orange car left two spaces, move purple truck down two spaces, move pink car down one space, move blue car down one space, move yellow truck down three spaces, and then finally move the red car out the exit on the right.

There are 625 challenges for each of four levels: easy, medium, hard and expert. This is significantly more than the physical game, which comes with 40 levels and the option of buying more sets of cards in amounts of 40. This is a great deal for only $2.99, especially when compared to the $20 required for the physical game.

This app provides the fun of the game without carrying around the 16 cars, board and cards. There is no wait time for setting up the board and with one click the next level is ready to go. When the level is complete, the student receives an instant visual reward. Since there are so many levels, each one increasingly harder than the last, students can work with this app over many sessions.

Rush Hour also reinforces the rules of the game for students still learning. Many children with decreased frustration tolerance or inattention to direction find it hard to not pick up the pieces of the physical game and move them out of the way of the red car, or turn them like a "real car does." The app only allows you to move the cars in the forward and backward direction based on which way they are facing.

The app isn't especially customizable, however. There is no option for a simplified game board, such as a smaller dimension and shorter distance to the exit. This would benefit younger students, or those with developing skills, encouraging success and accomplishment before trying the harder puzzles. In addition, the number of cars can't be selected. Some children are distracted by a lot of visual clutter, and an option to choose how many cars are presented could help the app be more accessible. In addition, while it's convenient to not have to set up the game, the actual set up of the physical game does help address additional visual processing and can give insight into additional areas to address in therapy.

Aside from the four difficulty levels, this game does not offer much customization, and does not allow different user profiles. For use in a school, or with several children, the scores would remain or need to be erased for each individual.

Even with these weaknesses, Rush Hour is a good choice for students needing a challenge for visual processing.

 Shelly is trying to figure out formatting a blog post...

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