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Traffic Trouble - Rush Hour!

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Beating the traffic

Rush Hour is a popular sliding puzzle game from ThinkFun with a straightforward objective: free the trapped red car from traffic! Originally called “Tokyo Parking”, this game was designed by renowned puzzle creator Nob Yoshigahara in the 1970s and was distributed in America in the 1990s. Since then, it has sparked a renewed interest in sliding puzzles, which continues till this day (e.g., “Unblock Me” is a popular game on the app store which uses the exact same concept).

A player first positions the vehicles in the 6x6 grid as shown on the challenge card (there are 40 cards to work through) and then begins sliding the vehicles in either direction to open up a path for the red car to exit the grid. The challenges progressively become more difficult to solve.

Multiple spin-offs have been created: Rush Hour 1, 2, 3 and 4, Rush Hour Shift, Rush Hour Deluxe and Rush Hour Junior.* These versions each have their own unique set-ups that are sure to keep you entertained for hours on end. Rush Hour works as a fun pastime for people of all ages; it’s surprisingly addictive and very satisfying to complete a challenge!

Finding the right sequence of steps will require some patience, trial and error, logical thinking, and a bit of luck. Overall, it’s a great way to de-stress and keep the mind active at the same time. Stuck on a challenge? Try working backwards to decide which vehicles need to be moved first so as to clear a path for the red car.

For those interested to find out more about Rush Hour, be sure to check out Michael Fogleman's article. Utilizing his expertise in coding, he wrote a puzzle generating program, and compiled a database of “interesting” starting positions for the game. A playable online version of Rush Hour that he created can also be found here.

Besides Rush Hour, other famous sliding puzzles include the Classic 15 Puzzle or the Huarong Dao puzzle, both with interesting backstories of their own. But Rush Hour remains the modern era’s most ubiquitous sliding puzzle; it’s fun, intuitive, with just the right amount of difficulty thrown in.

*If you wish to try out these puzzles (we currently have Rush Hour 2, 3, Deluxe and Shift), check out our class plans (we offer free trial classes on mechanical puzzles and science toys) and rental kits. Do contact us if you have any other queries!


“Rush Hour Game Review”. Board Game Review. Published November 2020.

“Rush Hour puzzle solver and generator”. FlowingData. Published July 13, 2018.

“Rush Hour: Traffic Jam Logic Game” ThinkFun. Visited July 2021.

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