I love puzzle games - the more frustrating the better! That way when I finally do get to finish them, the feeling of satisfaction is all the greater. The main drawback that I've found however, is that I do tend to get very caught up in them and have been known to lose sleep in order to finally solve a tricky problem. I'm at a loss to explain how I never completed the Rubix cube (taking the stickers off doesn't really count does it?) and the only excuse I can find for that is Homer Simpson's "if something is hard to do, it isn't worth doing!" Roadside Rescue was given to me as a present by my newly wed friends who's wedding I had helped out with (it's the thought that counts!) Produced by ThinkFun, it is one of a series of innovative puzzle games which are equally suitable for kids and adults alike. You can find details of this and other products on their website www.thinkfun.com and should be able to pick their products up in most decent toy shops. The game looks innocent enough and in actual fact would be fairly easy to dismiss as a kids toy if you saw it on the shelf. It comes in a brightly coloured box, the centre of which is a blister pack containing a series of coloured vehicles. Do not let appearances deceive you however - this game will drive you mad, time and again and is fiendishly difficult at the advanced levels. The playing surface is a 3 lane road upon which you set out a number of appropriate coloured vehicles, potholes and construction cones according to one of the 42 challenges in the puzzle book provided. The aim is to maneuver either the police car, ambulance or fire engine or a combination of them to a designated spot on the playing surface by moving the other vehicles out of the way. Although this sounds straightforward, the basic premise is complicated by making the vehicles different sizes or overlap into each other's spaces. The challenge book provides a solution to
each puzzle but only a coward would dare to look at these! There is a distinct method to solving the challenges but sometimes you will solve them by luck. The luck element becomes less of a factor with the more complicated challenges (which involve more of the emergency vehicles) but at the lower levels it can be immensely frustrating - just imagine puzzling over it for 1/2 and hour only for an 8 year old to move three pieces, announce the puzzle finished but with no idea of how its been done - then go back to the start and attempt to replicate the feat! In that the booklet provides the shortest solution, you can continue the challenge even after completing the puzzle by trying to do it in the fewest moves. After completing the puzzles you are unlikely to remember how you did them so this does have a fairly long shelf life. The higher levels have still got me flummoxed and I admit that I have given up on certain challenges and will go back to them later - promise! In addition, you can pick up another book with a further 42 challenges and this is just one of a number of similar games. In the run up to Christmas, this is an excellent and inexpensive (retails at around a tenner) stocking filler which could be given to almost any member of family. This, and other games produced by ThinkFun are packed with excellent ideas and provide hours of entertainment for all ages.